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Published December 15, 2004


Slappa HardBody CD Cases

If you like to read books or watch television shows about natural history, then you’re familiar with the proposition that one method of survival for a small-sized species in a hostile environment is to find an ecological niche to exploit. By finding a niche that no other species is using, the species does not place itself in competition with larger species and, in many cases, will go unnoticed by all but the most careful naturalist.

I was reminded of this truth of the natural world by the arrival at my house of several of the new CD cases manufactured by Slappa. Slappa is not one of the high-profile audiophile electronics companies, but they have found a niche in the audiophile world and have exploited it to its full potential.

The cases that I received are from Slappa’s HardBody line of CD cases. The company’s press releases state that the cases were developed with audiophiles in mind, and that consumers were consulted during the design phase to offer constructive criticism. The results are the best disc-storage cases I’ve seen.

The HardBody cases under review here can hold 40, 80, 160, or 240 discs (the number of discs each model holds is also its name), though you should cut those numbers in half if you like to store booklets with the discs. There are four different styles: Camel and Black Wave feature suede-like brown-and-tan and black exteriors respectively; the black-and-gray and blue-and-black Graphite and Blue styles have exteriors that have a wetsuit-like feel. A 360 Pro model is also available in the Graphite style, though I've not seen it.

The HardBody 40 measures a petite 7" x 7" x 3" ($15.99 USD), the 80 is 7.5" x 12" x 3" ($25.99), the 160 is 13" x 12.25" x 3" ($35.99), and the 240 tops out at 13" x 12.25" x 5.05" ($49.99). The exterior body of each case is a molded heavy-duty container that could, if necessary, survive a drop to the ground. The zippers are large and apparently strong; the pull-tab is Slappa’s logo. Inside each is a velvet lining, a mesh pocket on the inside cover, and Slappa’s patented "d2" pocket design. Each pocket is really two: one made of soft waffled material for the disc itself, and an outer pocket with a clear plastic window for the booklet. The pockets are of generous size, and everything is stitched together -- you don’t have to worry about glue drying out and your case falling apart.

My CDs seldom leave my listening room, but I thought of several uses for the HardBodys. Most obvious was taking discs with me while I commuted or auditioned new audio gear. In the past, I’d carry along a bag of ten or so discs, feeling like a lunatic as the jewel cases clacked against each other all the way to the store. The Slappas radically diminished the bulk while keeping things much neater and eliminating clacking; instead, I felt a sense of calm organization. If you audition equipment often, then buying a HardBody 40 for $15.99 seems a no-brainer.

The HardBodys would also be good for storing your music collections at home. Jewel cases take up a lot of room and lack the sex appeal of LP jackets; getting rid of them in favor of these well-made cases makes some sense. If you don’t have much space, then a couple of the larger HardBodys will likely hold all of your CDs and take up very little room. A quick approximation suggests that a HardBody 240 holding 120 CDs and their booklets would replace four to five linear feet of shelf space. Where once you had racks or bookshelves full of jewel cases, you’ll be left with three or four stylish briefcases that can be stored and moved around quite easily.

College students who find themselves moving in and out of dorms two or three times a year are prime targets for HardBodys. When an undergraduate, I made the silly decision to haul most of my records back and forth from home to school and back again. You could carry two HardBody 240s in one trip and accomplish what took me ten trips up and down several flights of stairs. And think how little space these cases will take up in your U-Haul or trunk or cramped dorm room. These cases won’t be so easily used if you have CDs with Digipak cases, but such CDs are in the minority.

While the HardBodys are marketed to music lovers, they make great cases for all computer-related discs. Not only do I have a pile of commercial computer CD-ROMs that I’ve foolishly stored in a pile in a desk drawer, I also have several discs of my own work that I had no compact, organized way to store. The HardBody 80 stores everything neatly while still fitting in one desk drawer.

It is unlikely that buying a HardBody will excite anyone as much as buying a new CD player or amplifier, but that’s no reflection on Slappa’s level of success. The HardBodys’ relationship with CD players reminds me of the symbiosis of the hammerhead stork and hippopotamus. These storks perch on hippos in order to fish, and in return eat flies and other insects off of the hippos’ backs that would otherwise cause irritation; the success of both species is dependent on their relationship. Slappa’s HardBodys will keep your software safe and clean so that your CD player will be able to deliver its best performance; without a CD player, you’d have no need for these cases.

If you have any need for a CD case, I heartily recommend the Slappa HardBodys. They’re stylish, rugged, inexpensive, and incredibly practical.

...Eric Hetherington

Prices of equipment reviewed

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