Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2019
There are lots of 3DS XL cases available; only a few details set this one apart, but they're mainly details I think are worth the slightly higher price for this one.
+ The exterior fabric, as advertised, is thick and very durable. Unfortunately, my kitten happens to love this particular texture for sharpening his claws on. Fortunately, the exterior material seems capable of withstanding the fuzzy onslaught; I can't even see picks in the fabric yet. I'll probably have to replace the case in several months to a year, but not needing to replace it next week is a definite mark in favor of TakeCase.
+ TakeCase uses a Velcro "pouch" to hold the console where other manufacturers use a simple elastic strap or nothing at all. The pouch has a stiff backing that sits between the console and the exterior of the case, adding another layer of protection versus damage from outside. The front of the pouch is mesh, but not a simple mesh pocket; it's actually two layers of mesh with a thin wafer of foam between them, adding another layer of protection versus damage from inside. The mesh and its elastic edging stretch enough to almost insert the console without removing the pouch from its Velcro security inside the case. I say "almost" because the Velcro does peel away from the inside of the case when I do this; it's just convenient not to have to remove the pouch as an extra step. However, the console will NOT come out of the pouch without removing the pouch from the case -- a step made easier by a small fabric pull-tab sewn into the top edge of the pouch.
+ The carrying handle is, as advertised, convenient. It's a best-of-both-worlds thick silicone (?) grippy-textured sleeve around a nylon webbing strap; the nylon webbing is strong enough to hold several times the weight, and the silicone wrap has more comfortable dimensions, texture, and squish. The strap is long/loose enough to be grabbed easily without scrabbling at the fabric to pick it up, but the webbing is flexible enough for the handle to lie flush against the edge of the case from the center to within half an inch of the edge. The ends of the webbing wrap around the hinge so they're sewn in place more securely; the interior of the hinge is covered with soft fabric to prevent any rough textures inside the case. It's a tiny thing, but a well-designed handle is a rare delight.
+ The zippers are metal, not plastic, with long but smooth metal zipper-pulls. They glide smoothly around the corners without tugging or fussy alignment. The way the zippers are placed causes them to retract slightly beyond the inner lip of the shell when the zipper is open, so the metal doesn't present a scratching danger when inserting or removing the console. Another tiny detail that delights when well-thought-out.
+ The stylus pen is a nice touch I wouldn't pay extra for, but do appreciate. It's one piece of hard plastic, made to look like a retractable ball-point pen (but doesn't retract) but with a less comfortable grip than most ball-points. The clip works, but is the same plastic as the rest and wouldn't take much pressure to snap off. As a stylus, it's cheap. As a bonus item, it's... nicer than the built-in stylus. Possibly more important than the free stylus are the two elastic pen loops at the edges of the game-storage flaps, one per flap. I can comfortably fit my metal-body Lamy 2000 fountain pen in either loop, although to close the case comfortably with the Lamy and the stylus (and games, charger, and console), the larger Lamy must go in the top flap to take advantage of the extra room; the case will close comfortably around the Lamy in the bottom flap without the stylus, but requires a little more pressure than I like with the Lamy in the bottom flap and the stylus stacked on top of it. However, since I don't intend to carry a metal fountain pen around in my 3DS case, this is merely an experiment to determine how large a stylus can fit in the case; the answer is that anything smaller than a Sharpie marker should fit. While the included stylus is only more comfortable than the stock stylus in that it's thicker, the ergonomic spirit of the bonus is preserved by the roominess of the pen loops and the way they are positioned against the top of the facing accessory pocket, where accessories are unlikely to compete with them for room. This is such a small thing it's down to nit-picking, but is possibly the set-apart feature I use and appreciate the most.
+ The zippered top accessory pocket, advertised as deep enough to hold the official power adapter, is DEEP. A ruler will sink in far enough to read half an inch at the zipper with nothing in the pocket, but given where the zipper and pocket material are sewn in, it could be filled to take up the entire upper half of the case, to a depth of nearly a full inch. This pocket is big enough to hold another portable game console; I can put my entire PSP in the main accessory pocket and still have room behind the top zipper -- and yes, the case will still zip up that way, with the 3DS XL in place. My PS Vita is a tighter squeeze side-to-side, but the same still applies. The game-storage flaps cut into that depth a little, but even with games in both flaps, there's room for the (non-folding) AmazonBasics adaptor, a USB charging cable, a small car USB adapter, and a 12,000 mAh battery (and the 3DS XL itself) without squeezing to zip the case. This is NOT a small difference. This is easily a make-or-break decision point. The small difference here is that the accessory pocket is made the same way as the console pouch: two layers of mesh with a wafer of foam between them. Since the game carts face up into this space, and I suppose could theoretically be cracked by too much pressure against a hard surface like an adapter, that's a nice touch. (Also great if I actually planned to carry my PSP/PSV in there, I suppose.)
* Storage for 16 games; unremarkable. Several other cases offer this in exactly the same manner: strips of mesh, edged in elastic, . The backs of the game-storage flaps are unpadded, with only the soft fabric to cushion them, but the roominess of the case and the padded console pouch help make up for this. I do appreciate the game pockets facing "up" when the case is held by the carry-handle. The pockets feel very snug and secure, but extra protection against games falling out is nice all the same.
* When the handle is up, the zipper opening faces down. Accessories won't fall out if the accessory pocket is zipped; games won't fall out because the game pockets face up in this orientation. However, a few seconds of brisk shaking will break the hold of the Velcro with the weight of the console inside and send the console tumbling down out of the case. This is a neutral instead of a negative, though, because the same case design with an elastic strap instead of a Velcro pouch would drop the console long before the TakeCase will; I do mean it takes several seconds of intense jostling. It's probably best to ignore the double-pull nature of the zipper and close it all the way to one upper corner, instead of letting the zipper pulls meet in the middle front/bottom.
* Other reviewers show their TakeCase arriving in its own box, with carry straps and a microfiber cloth. I received none of these. My TakeCase arrived bare in the shipping box, containing only the stylus-pen and a standard "Do Not Eat" dessicant packet. (Yum!) There's not even a place to attach an additional strap, and those reviews all seem to be from 2016, so I suspect those were features of an earlier version. Since I don't plan to take the TakeCase out of the house without putting it in a bag or backpack anyway, and given my point above about the potential for the console to fall out when the case is carried, I don't feel the loss of the strap all that keenly, and one receives free microfiber cloths with the purchase of everything from Apples to apples these days anyway. My kitten, however, is badly upset over the lack of the additional cardboard box.
- ... I suppose one could wish for more padding on the back of the bottom game-storage flap, or inner material with more cushioning, as other reviewers have done. However, there's so much interior room here -- and the case is so correspondingly thick already -- that too much cushioning would be counterproductive. There's more focus on keeping things in place despite all the extra room, which side-steps the issue of things pressing too hard against the console. It would take work to overstuff the case to the point that interior cushioning would be useful, and more cushioning versus exterior impact would reduce the interior room that's clearly the focus here. It seems like an acceptable trade-off to me.
CONCLUSION: I see several cases that look at least 9/10 as good as this one. I haven't yet seen one I like 10/10 as much, though. Many are less expensive, in some cases only 2/3 as much as this one, but none of those are the 9/10 as good ones. Don't choose this TakeCase if you want something small or slim, something with a wrist or shoulder strap, or something that will guarantee your otherwise-bare console against long drops onto hard floors. It's otherwise a great choice.