Review: Power Support Crystal Jacket mini Set
Pros: An impressively inexpensive and attractive hard shell for the iPod mini that covers most of its surfaces, provides easy Click Wheel access (with Wheel Film protection), and full access to its top and bottom. Can be used with Apple’s iPod mini packed-in belt clip.
Cons: Top and bottom of iPod are exposed, as is Action button, so scratch damage to these surfaces is more likely than with most other hard cases.
Of the seven iPod and iPod mini accessories we received from Power Support, the biggest surprise wasn’t a rubber case or a metal stand, but rather an transparent hard plastic shell that will largely displace many users’ need for more expensive hard cases. Precision-engineered to the shape of the iPod mini, the Crystal Jacket is a unique three-piece offering, including a packed-in piece of Wheel Film protective coating for the iPod mini’s Click Wheel.
Two of the pieces are transparent hard plastic; the first piece is a back plate for the iPod mini that covers the device’s entire back surface and substantial portions of its sides, while the other is a transparent hard plastic front plate that covers the remaining portions of the mini’s sides, and its entire front save the Click Wheel. Power Support sells the Crystal Jacket as part of a $20.00 “set” that includes a third piece, the company’s thin transparent adhesive Wheel Film cover for the iPod mini’s Click Wheel. This adhesive piece is stuck on to the surface of the Click Wheel before either of the other parts is attached, and works well to protect most of the Click Wheel from scratch damage.
Power Support’s design is uniquely functional and limited. When these three pieces are used together, they cover the entire face of the iPod mini save its Action Button, its entire back, and both of its sides. When the front part and Wheel Film are attached to the mini, the empty sides of the mini leave just enough space for Apple’s iPod mini belt clip pack-in, which blends with the front Crystal Jacket to provide a hard and largely protective iPod case with a clip. Neither of these implementations protects the mini’s top or bottom: both are left entirely open for top- and bottom-mounting accessories, or exposed to the elements depending on what other parts you’re using. And Apple’s clip doesn’t fully protect the iPod’s back, but presumably that won’t be an problem if you clip it to something that’s not dangerous.
These design choices turn out to be mostly good ones on several levels. First, unlike Speck’s recently released Mini FlipStand, which otherwise resembles the Crystal Jacket, Power Support’s product doesn’t preclude the use of common Dock Connector accessories. Second and also unlike the Mini FlipStand, the Crystal Jacket give the user the full ability to choose whether to add a belt clip to the iPod mini or keep its back flat. And finally, the case provides suitable hard coverage that compares favorably with hard Click Wheel access-friendly cases such as Rhinoskin’s Deluxe Metal Case, while also not obstructing the iPod mini’s top from top-mounting accessories.
Conversely, there’s a single problem that some but not all users will have with the design: while there are small hard plastic lips at the top and bottom of the case that should insulate the iPod mini against drop impacts, there’s no plastic coverage of the mini’s glossy top and bottom surfaces, and thus scratch guarding of those surfaces is out of the question. Perhaps Power Support needs to consider a new type of Crystal Film for this purpose, but we frankly didn’t mind this given our own uses of iPod mini cases.
Value and Conclusions
For a $20.00 retail price, Power Support provides iPod mini owners with a hard plastic case that’s easy to use, remove, and appreciate visually. Because of the packed-in Wheel Film, the Crystal Jacket Set provides great coverage for virtually all of the iPod mini’s front and back, while offering best of class access to its key controls and ports.
Each Crystal Jacket includes transparent Wheel Film (below), but not Screen Film (top). The hard plastic shell protects the iPod mini’s screen without the need for that film. Though less protective of the iPod mini’s top and bottom than other hard cases - a factor which will bother some people - the ease of this case’s use makes up for that in our opinion. If Speck’s recently released Mini FlipStand featured a detachable belt clip and a larger hole for Dock Connector accessories, it would have been decidedly better (even at a higher price) than the Crystal Jacket, but as the products are, we’d sooner opt for the less-expensive Power Support option.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge. A consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time, Jeremy’s recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.