Review: Miniot iWood 5g / iWood Red
Model: iWood nano
Price: €75-95 (plus €10 per engraving)
Compatible: iPod 5G
Following up on its beautiful but expensive iPod nano hardwood carrying case iWood nano, Miniot has released iWood 5g and iWood Red, equally eye-catching wooden enclosures for the fifth-generation iPod. Made only for the 30GB iPod, and best-matching the new U2 iPod, Red (€75) is made from padouk wood, and looks amazing in person; maple, walnut, mahogany, cherry, and oak versions are available for €85 (30GB) or €95 (60GB). As before, you can monogram the case's front and put two lines of text on the inside front lid, each for an additional fee of €10; the lid holds closed with two tiny magnets on the case's right. Each iWood comes in a gift-quality black box, with a single bon-bon inside as an unexpected treat. The prices should make this much clear up front: this is a premium case for those with specific tastes and big wallets.
When closed, the iWood 5g cases provide substantial coverage for your iPod: they protect the iPod’s entire front, back, and sides, leaving holes only for the iPod’s headphone port - sized for virtually all headphones - and the Dock Connector port, which is only big enough for small (Apple-sized) Dock Connector cables and accessories. This latter point might limit the case’s appeal a bit for some users - it’s fine for in-home syncing and charging, but if you were planning to use iWood 5g or Red inside your car, you’ll need to be sure the Dock Connector accessory you’re using is on the slim side. Expect only mild tarnishment with typical daily use. From body to the hinge, the case does as good a job of maintaining its looks and range of motion as possible, given what it’s made of, but don’t expect it to withstand anything that normally could destroy wood.
Unlike the majority of flip-closed iPod cases we’ve seen recently, a genre dominated by plastic and metal cases, rather than wood ones, iWood also covers your iPod’s entire screen and Click Wheel when closed, precluding you from accessing its controls or UI unless you flip the lid open. This is the most significant compromise of the otherwise beautiful design; it’s just not right for frequent iPod video-watchers, an issue which wasn’t quite as pronounced with the nano version of iWood. We’re not as bothered by its full-time coverage of the Hold switch, but note it for your reference.
Limitations aside, there’s no doubt in our minds that these cases are otherwise in the very top echelon of iPod holders aesthetically - Miniot has come up with a design that doesn’t render the 5G iPods overly bulky or cover them in cheap wood-esque paneling, achieving the proper balance of visual and functional effects. If you like wood, and perhaps even if you don’t, you’ll be impressed with how well iWood 5g and Red blend with the otherwise hyper-modern iPod designs. As noted earlier, you’ll have to pay quite a premium to get these cases, though: the cheapest iWood Red sells for the equivalent of $96 today, with the pricier 5g models going for up to $121 before you do any engraving. By U.S. standards, those prices are very steep - forgiveable only because of the quality here - and we still think that some engraving should be included without additional charge.
But if you like wood, have the extra cash on hand, and can live with the two key limitations identified above, you will love the way these cases look, protect, and even smell. iPod owners who primarily listen to music from playlists won’t mind the occasional inconvenience of flipping the case open; similarly, the magnets work well and don’t intrude enough visually on the case’s wooden design to be offensive in any way. Given the restrictions of the material it has chosen to work with, Miniot has done a good job here, and we very much look forward to seeing its future products.