Price: $45 (iPod 5G), $40 (nano)
Compatible: iPod 5G, nano
Power Support/Miyavix Kimono Cases for iPod 5G and nano
Pros: Colorful, novel kimono fabric and leather cases for the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano, with impressive overall look and feel, reasonable pricing given their unique designs and quality, and a “no two look exactly alike” philosophy. Major stand-outs for fashion-conscious iPod owners, permitting full-time access to the iPod’s screen and controls.
Cons: Protection is low by comparison with most iPod cases we’ve tested, lacking substantial screen, Click Wheel, top or bottom coverage. No pack-ins of any kind for wearing or carrying the cases.
Kyoto, Japan-based Miyavix has been pioneering iPod cases for years, and its early 2005 release of the first Kimono case for iPods was a breakthrough in affordable fashion case design. With stitched leather lining the iPod’s screen and Click Wheel, and Japanese kimono fabric surrounding most of the iPod, the handmade cases are visually unique both from other cases and each other - no two are identical thanks to different slices from the fabric - and remain amongst the most beautiful we have ever seen. Working with US distributor Power Support, the company has released Kimonos for the iPod nano ($40) and iPod 5G ($45), preserving the general shapes and designs of earlier cases while changing their exterior kimono fabric patterns. Red, purple, and blue/green versions of each sized case are available, each vibrant and largely floral.
Both fifth-generation iPod models (30GB/60GB) generally fit the case properly thanks to a soft fabric included spacer, which is used only for the 30GB model, and cannot be seen inside the case; the screen hole buckles a little bit, losing a point for the 5G. The nano version fits the identically-sized 2GB and 4GB nanos properly, not losing a point for fit. Both cases do a great job of holding up to everyday use and stresses, earning our top resilience award. But our nano sample had slight finish issues - a rough internal seam along the screen that detracted a point from the otherwise great build quality.
Both versions of Kimono earn our top scores on ease of use, permitting full-time access to all of the iPod’s controls and ports - snap-open flaps on each case’s bottom provide Dock Connector access, and enable the nano case to be used (albeit visually imperfectly) with Apple’s Lanyard Headphones.
The Kimono cases score 4 of our maximum 5 points for innovation, as their handmade and uniquely Japanese designs are both visual standouts and far superior on iPod usability than most of the pouch-like fashion cases we’ve seen. Each case falls a bit shy of our top mark in this regard by not doing as much as could easily have been done on certain aspects of protection, an important part of case design that other companies have handled better, even with equally innovative cosmetics. Other than the 5G case’s fabric spacer, neither case includes any pack-ins of any sort, but both include leather and metal D-rings that can be attached to any straps or bag hooks you might already have.
Kimono’s weakest spot is in protection, which is a surprise given that the case is sold in the United States by Power Support, maker of some of the iPod’s best protective films. Neither case covers the iPod’s screen or Click Wheel, which could have been remedied by these films or other screen/Click Wheel protectors, but isn’t - you’ll need to buy them separately. Miyavix has also left significant portions of each case’s top and bottom open. For instance, the top of each case has only a thin strip of leather next to the iPod’s Hold switch, and a similarly thin leather part that doesn’t provide full Dock Connector coverage. For that reason, the cases get points only for side corner coverage, front and back face coverage, and the medium-grade fabric used as iPod coverage.
Given that the Kimono cases are handmade in Japan, their pricing is evaluated by our handmade case standards, by which they fall slightly ($10 each) under the prices we’ve seen as typical for designs of comparable quality and design. They each get a point for price aggressiveness, and two points of positive reviewer’s tilt because of their stand-out designs and general quality. These are cases that we actively like, and think are good purchases for the dollar. That said, there are cheaper cases that offer more protection, and the Kimonos could have rated a bit higher here.
Overall, the fifth-generation and nano Kimonos are cases that we would recommend strongly to readers - especially women - looking for fashionable and highly distinctive Japanese case designs. In our view, and despite the fact that our case ratings no longer take attractiveness directly into account, these are amongst the very best-looking cases we’ve seen, meriting additional consideration from users looking to break out of the boring, commodity iPod case mold. That said, buyers will unfortunately need to spend additional cash to protect the iPod’s screen, Wheel, and body - a factor which we hope Miyavix addresses in future Kimonos, and Power Support could help for now with bundled/discounted Crystal Film protectors. The protective omissions are all that separates these cases from near perfection.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.