The Vaja Balance Case for Zune Review

I am trying to remember the last time that I?reviewed a Vaja case and ended up less than pleased.

…still trying.

After all, it would add so much to my coolness factor if I didn’t get excited every time they sent me a new case to try -?if I could remain aloof, if I didn’t stick my nose against the received item trying to catch a whiff like some kind of leather junkie. But I do.

If it was just a matter of how the leather smells, then I might be able to restrain myself…but no. Vaja also makes some of the most form-fitting, beautifully designed, long-lasting, and stylish cases on the planet. I’m just stating a fact here; Vaja?is to cases, as Ferrari is to cars. With that in mind, Vaja’s prices might make them seem like an over the top extravagance to the casual observer.

So I guess the question that must be asked is do you use a particular item enough to justify putting it in such a fine case?

Today we are going to look at a device in my gadget arsenal that has already given me a lot of service; something that is always with me, in my bag, or on my desk – my Zune.

When Federico, my contact at Vaja, said he would be sending their latest Custom Balance Case for Zune, I knew I would be in for a treat and?Federico did not disappoint. He sent me the Balance in Golden Ochre, one of 18 custom color choices available. Possible options for this case include adding an Ultra Clip (+$4), adding the Rivet Clip System (+$20), adding a line of text (+$10), or adding a custom graphic (+$30). The interactive ordering process on the Vaja site allows you to choose whether the case will go on a black, white or chocolate Zune, and as each option is chosen the final?design will display.

The Balance case is a perfectly shaped holster; it’s molded to follow the exact lines of the Zune, while adding as little bulk as possible. A large cutout frames the viewing screen and the controls.

The only branding evident on the body of this sleek case is the embossed Vaja logo on its lower back. Even stitching in a complimentary color circles the back’s perimeter.

The interior wall of the?holster is composed of soft leather that has been repeatedly embossed with the Vaja logo. The top and sides of the holster’s interior are lined in black nylon to keep the case’s original shape. I know from past experience with Vaja that this is a very effective method?against stretching from use over time.

There is no attached cover for the screen, but Vaja addressed that concern by including a three-pack of stiff clear plastic screen protectors which fit in the case?while?lying on?top of the Zune. These protectors come with a blue protective?film in place?which must be removed.

When the clear plastic protector is in place, the screen is completely covered?while there is a cutout positioned?to allow access to?the controls.

I actually?prefer using the case without the plastic protector, so the rest of my pictures will be of the Zune without it. In its place, I?have been using?a Belkin ClearScreen Overlay for Zune, which I’ll be reviewing soon; this keeps the screen covered and protected while cutting down on glare.

The top of the Balance case is open so that the Zune can slip in. Once in, it is held very securely, as the front of the case actually wraps over the top edge. This not only grips the Zune, it also protects what would have otherwise been an exposed edge. On the back, the stiff and straight leather rises about a millimeter or so above the Zune’s edge, also offering a bit of protection should the player be dropped.

The bottom of the case has a cutout for the Zune’s sync & charge cable. Although there are cutouts on the corners, the case is cut so that the front cover wraps around the top edge of the player, and once again, the stiff back extends about a millimeter to act as a buffer. The Zune is very well protected, while the case adds minimal bulk.

The naked Zune measures 4.44″ tall x 2.48″ wide x 0.65″ thick; with the case on, the Zune measures 4.57″ tall x 2.70″ wide x 0.88″ thick. Once inserted, the case fits so tightly that removal is a bit of a trick. It shouldn’t really ever be necessary to remove the Zune, unless perhaps you are putting it in a speaker dock.

My Zune, while encased in its Vaja Balance, has been rattling around the bottom of my gear bag for almost a month, and neither the case nor the Zune have sustained any damage. If anything, the case has developed a slight patina as all quality leather will.

I can’t tell you if $60 is or isn’t too much for you to spend on your Zune, but I can say that if my option was to buy a couple of less expensive cases, then I would prefer to have just one – this one.

The Vaja Custom Balance Case for Zune is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers.
MSRP: $60 as tested
What I Like: Perfect craftsmanship, beautiful design, yummy leather, protection for both the Zune’s case and screen
What Needs Improvement: Some will find the price intimidating

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

2 Comments on "The Vaja Balance Case for Zune Review"

  1. Mitchell Oke | January 15, 2007 at 5:27 pm |

    Definitely is a great looking case!! Also looking forward to your Zune review. I am seriously thinking of dropping my iPod nano and picking up the Zune, but I can’t till the enterprising hacker community works out how to make it work reliably with Mac!!

  2. Yeeeeeaaah…I was just apologizing to Jenneth because the hold-up on our joint Zune review is completely my fault! We should have it up soon, though. 🙂

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