While you can always find cases for players such as the iPods or the Zune HD, some of the smaller brands are often a bit hard to get any accessories for- at least third party ones. I-Nique luckily makes cases for most players out there, including the Sony NWZ-S540.
The I-Nique Tuff-Luv Apocalypse Series “The Tree of Life” leather case cover for Sony Walkman NWZ-S540 series (yeah that’s the full name) is one of two leather cases that I-Nique offer for the Sony S540- the other being black with a dragon pattern on the front. This one is red with the “tree of life” imprinted into the leather on the front of the case, but otherwise they’re identical
It has openings for all the buttons and access ports, including the docking port (although that’s a bit hard to get to without opening the case). The backside has a screw that can be removed and replaced with a plastic headphone wrapper (more on this later), as well as holes to let the speaker audio through. The right side also has a metal ring to hook on a carabiner (included), which is supposed to be a substitute for a belt clip as for as I can tell. The front is locked with a magnetic button on the back and flips open to reveal the front, which has more cut-outs for the speakers and of course the buttons.
The case is a solid fit all around and the cut-outs are in the right place for the most part. Unfortunately, having a few millimeters of leather around the buttons doesn’t exactly help the fact the buttons are very hard to press correctly, being all flat. Especially the down button on the d-pad is hard to get access to because on the player itself there’s only a millimeter or so from the button to the edge and to be able to cover the bottom with leather they had to cover part of that button in the process. The other buttons are fine however and there’s also no problem fitting thick 3.5mm plugs into the opening for the headphone jack, though you might have to push the player around a bit to make it fit.
Red isn’t exactly my color, but I do like the basic look of the case a lot. The leather impression on the top adds a nice feel to it and I prefer this sort of decoration over the random metallic badges/buttons they use on some of their other cases – including the Veggie case for the S540. It looks more exclusive and fancy, but it’s also less generic so the pattern might not be to everyone’s liking.
The case comes with a small plastic “thingy” called a Wrap-M that screws onto the back of the player. When on, it has two plastic arms that can be turned- each with a hook to put the end of your headphone cable into. The idea is that you hook it in place, hold the cord down onto the case and the wind up the entire cord, leaving you with only the earbuds being loose. It’s a good idea in theory, but it’s frankly as close to useless as you can get. Even when you have the right technique, it takes a while to wind it up and the same goes for getting it untwined afterwards. The headphone cable has to be very thin and not too long for it to work, as it isn’t really designed to hold that much cable. The diameter of the middle part that you wind the cable around is rather small, which means you need more rotations to hold the cable than any sort of standalone cable wrapper. This means more of a mess and I also doubt very much that this can be used daily without damaging the cable from being pushed under the rotating “arms” all the time. I-Nique has a video of the Wrap-M here if you want to see how it works.
I’m not really a fond of leather cases on small devices as it always adds some bulk, but the Apocalypse case isn’t half bad. I really like the leather impression on the front which gives the case a very nice feel and look to it, and it’s overall a good case for protecting your device. At £15 it’s a good deal considering how much a leather case sometimes cost (especially in the UK and Europe where I-Nique is located) and it’s a great choice for protecting your S540. I wouldn’t expect too much from the Wrap-M, however, as in my opinion it’s more likely to break your cable than save it from getting tangled as well as adding a good minute to the process of packing or unpacking the player for use. At least it’s included in the price so you don’t have to pay the extra £4 that the little plastic part cost if bought separately.