Review: Miniot iWood touch
In recent weeks, we've had the opportunity to test two cases that we'd place in the "high premium" case category, each one priced to reflect the unusual effort and materials put into its construction. We're reviewing both of them today in separate reviews: one is A.B. Sutton's $88-$108 Simple Slip for iPhone 3G, the other is Miniot's iWood touch for the iPod touch (€95/$149 and up). Neither is a mainstream case, and neither offers the best possible tradeoff of convenience and protection, but they're both interestingly executed and highly appealing to their target demographics.
As we have said many times before, we aren’t fans of flip-closed iPod cases, a feeling that has only intensified as the iPhone and iPod touch have emerged as Apple’s flagship media products: cases that are sealed most or all of the time are inconvenient; unless you’re using a remote control, all you can do is listen to music with them unless you open up a lid or pull your device out. But on rare occasion, we see a really exceptional design that seems like an exception to our general distaste for the genre. iWood is as close as they come to that level.
Based upon designs previously released by Miniot from The Netherlands, iWood touch is a highly attractive flip-open case that’s been carved from natural wood to hold the iPod touch. Even if the case isn’t further customized in any sort of way, the attention to certain details in the carving process is seriously impressive: you get your choice of dark red padouk wood depicted here, maple, cherry, oak, mahogany, or walnut, each for the same price, and can see little magnets in the outer edge, no visible hinge pins, and curves that are literally perfectly matched to the touch’s. The thickness is just right, too; with iWood touch on, the iPod feels about the same as an iPhone, only slightly larger.
A tiny indent on the right side lets you easily open the case, and the touch isn’t loose enough inside to just fall out when the lid flips out. Miniot has also designed the case to hold the iPod touch on its side for video or gaming purposes, employing a small strip of fabric-covered metal as an interior stand. As flip cases go, this one just looks great, and works well.
There are some other customizing options that can make iWood touch even more impressive visually. You can add a monogram (€10), a message (€10), or a corporate logo (€15), as shown with the iLounge logo here; the process of etching appears to be laser-based, as it’s pixel-precise and looks excellent on our sample case. If you’re willing to pony up the extra cash, which unfortunately is tougher at this point than it was in the past thanks to the lower value of the dollar relative to the Euro, you’ll be very impressed by the results.
The problems with iWood touch are, regrettably, ones that took it from our B+ rating—rare for a flip-style iPod touch case—into more common B territory. Despite all of the impressive work that went into crafting its other curves, iWood touch’s bottom has a combined Dock Connector and headphone port hole that’s just a little too small for comfort. The Dock Connector hole just barely fits the tiny current-generation USB-to-Dock Connector plug, but not its predecessor, and doesn’t work with most accessories, either; a Sleep/Wake button hole can only be accessed when the case has been opened.
Similarly, the headphone port portion of the hole is big enough for Apple’s plugs and those headphones that were redesigned for compatibility with the iPhone, but not others; consequently, if you’re using anything except for the iPod touch’s packed-in earbuds, you’ll probably need to buy an adapter, since Miniot doesn’t include one in the package. Finally, the case is neither Universal Dock-compatible nor practical, as its side-swinging front lid precludes use of its screen while in a recessed well like the Dock’s.
Overall, iWood touch is a beautiful-looking case that will be nice for a certain niche of users—those looking for something extremely distinctive to hold the touch inside a pocket, bag, or briefcase, or atop a desk, yet don’t need the sort of dock, headphone, or wider accessory compatibility offered by most of the less expensive iPod touch cases out there. While it’s a shame that the iWood touch can’t cater to all of its possible fans at once, Miniot seems content to produce cases that are works of art first and usable second. If that’s what you’re looking for, and you’re not intimidated by the premium wrought by the strong European currency, we wouldn’t dissuade you from having Miniot carve you an iWood touch of your own.