Review: Tunewear Prie Hook Mini
Pros: An boxy leather holder that protects virtually all of the iPod mini. Based on our experience with full-sized Prie Hook cases, alternate colors may be more attractive than the beige version we received for testing.
Cons: On version one of the case, iPod mini is not usable in the case because of misalignment of the headphone port; this is largely resolved in version 2. Alignment of the front holes for screen and Click Wheel are visually off by a couple of millimeters on version 1, less on version 2. On both versions, Dock Connector hole is too small for all but Apple’s connectors. Very expensive for a plain brown leather case.
Updated Sept. 10, 2005: Following publication of our original review, we were sent an updated (currently shipping) version of Prie Hook Mini which resolves the single biggest issue we had with the first version - an improperly aligned headphone port, which rendered the case unusable. While the holes still aren’t perfect, they’re much closer now, and few people will mind. As such, we have revised our rating accordingly, but preserved the text of our original review below for reference just in case you’re shopping for a used case.
Original Review: Version 1
Since the early 2004 launch of the iPod mini, we’ve reviewed over 50 different cases tailored to the unique size and shape of Apple’s mid-sized iPod. Today, we begin a series of quick looks at eight additional cases that range in materials from rubbery plastic to leather and felt, and in place of origin from Sweden to Germany, Japan, China, and the United States.
In our earlier review of Tunewear’s Prie Hook case for full-sized iPods (iLounge rating: B), we noted that we had seen two versions of that case: a so-so beige version, and some tweaked and more visually interesting snake, crocodile and gloss leather versions. The only iPod mini version of Prie Hook - called Prie Hook mini ($54.95) - we’ve seen is a smaller version of the less impressive beige case, and for similar reasons, it’s not so impressive. Tunewear also produces it in four other colors.
In the past, Tunewear’s designs have ranged from superb (Icewear shuffle, iLounge rating: A) to the alright (Poptune for iPod mini, iLounge rating: B-), but its track record certainly is more good than bad. The successful soft and slick Prie cases (iLounge rating: A) would never have foreshadowed these boxy followups, which share a name but not much else.
Prie Hook mini is a leather- and fabric-covered box that dangles an iPod mini from a thick, sturdy, and gloss-polished metal hook. The iPod mini’s screen and Click Wheel are covered by clear plastic, while holes are cut for its headphone and Dock Connector ports. As with a number of other Tunewear cases, the Dock Connector hole is on the too-small side, sized properly for Apple’s cables, but not much else, though in this case Prie Hook mini’s bottom can be opened for easier docking and attachment of larger accessories. The case seals closed with a reinforced bottom flap and two silver snaps, providing very substantial coverage for the iPod mini’s body. Tunewear’s logo is embossed on the rear flap, visible but unintrusive.
The top of Prie Hook mini is unfortunately a mess. Our review sample’s headphone port hole was misaligned to the point where headphones could not be properly connected; a major issue that prevents the case from being useful in any way other than decoration. Similarly, the alignment of both the screen and Click Wheel holes is off by a couple of millimeters, resulting in a not-so-professional look for the front of the covered iPod mini.
On the bright side, the unit is significantly thinner than the versions made for larger iPods - Tunewear did not need to insert any sort of spring-loaded spacer to make this case fit all iPod minis, and the result is a case that’s only modestly thicker than a standard iPod mini, albeit boxier. And unlike the plastic Click Wheel protectors on the larger versions of the Hook case, we had no problem using the one on Prie Hook mini - despite its visual misalignment. In the larger cases, there was so much of a gap between the protector and the Wheel that practical use of the iPod’s controls was inhibited. But in Prie Hook mini, the wheel sits close enough to be usable, and works well.
As with the full-sized Prie Hook cases, Tunewear’s decision to include a very substantial hook in Prie Hook mini was a good idea. Spring-loaded and solid, the metal hook holds to the case’s top with a fabric loop. It’s sized for easy attachment to a bag, belt loop, or virtually anything else you might be wearing. Its largeness works well given the design of the rest of the case.
We expect quite a bit from cases that sell in the $50 and up price range, especially given how many properly designed - and in some cases excellent - cases there are for the iPod mini already. Because of the headphone port issue, which renders the case practically unusable, we consider the Prie Hook mini we received to be defective, and must rate it accordingly, though we strongly suspect that Tunewear will remedy this issue in later Prie Hooks. If we get a chance to see one of them, we’re willing as always to revisit our conclusions and update this review with additional details.