Review: Speck Products iGuy for mini
Pros: A highly creative holder/stand that turns your iPod mini into a standing character. Protects virtually all of your mini (save its Click Wheel) and permits easy docking and normal use without a hassle. The best “weird” iPod accessory we’ve seen to date.
Cons: No Click Wheel protection, fairly high price for rubber “case,” not entirely practical to carry around because of limbs and bulk; some may not appreciate the humor in the design.
A little bit more than a month ago, the world was unexpectedly introduced to Speck Products’ iGuy (iLounge rating: B+), the first iPod “case” to transform a full-sized iPod into a sort of human character. We weren’t surprised to learn that iGuy was a huge success, or that an iPod mini version was coming as soon as Speck could get it into stores. And now, iGuy for mini ($34.95) is here. Like his full-sized older brother, iGuy for mini adds legs, arms, and a padded derrierre to a small iPod’s existing body and face (screen). He’s made from soft white rubber-like plastic, and uses soft curves rather than sharp edges. Our updated review below is based upon our text for the full-sized iGuy, with differences noted where appropriate.
Each iGuy for mini set includes three pieces: a clear plastic screen protector, a clear plastic internal rear plate that keeps the case together unless you’re ready to open it, and the newer, smaller iGuy body. The character resembles a couple of popular Japanese (and Internet) icons: face-on without an iPod mini inside, it looks like Domo-kun, and with the iPod inside, it looks a bit like certain Morolians from Sega’s Space Channel 5 series. Its alien-like arms are modestly posable, aided by a thick metal wire that runs through the case’s back (and looks somewhat like Domo-kun’s mouth), while its thick but short plastic legs keep the entire character standing upright.
But is iGuy for mini really useful for anything? Sort of - and that’s part of what makes him a strong B-level product rather than an A. On one hand, he’s almost as protective as iPod mini holders come. Your iPod mini’s only really exposed portions are its Click Wheel, headphone port and Hold switch. On the other hand, iGuy might not be the sort of “case” you practically will carry around. While smaller than the full-sized iGuy, you probably won’t throw him into a pocket unless you’re wearing the baggiest jeans; he’s best suited to carrying around in a bag. For that matter, he’s more of an iPod stand that you’ll want to display on a desk and tote around only occasionally. Even if we looked at him purely as an iPod mini stand and not a case, he’s still not the best stand we’ve seen - just one of the most creative.
iGuy for mini does have one nice nod to practicality. His lower body folds open to allow you to connect the iPod mini’s Dock Connector easily to an Apple iPod mini Dock, a pose which looks as if your mini is using the toilet. It’s a pitch-perfect, funny design twist just right for the audience that will want this product.
There’s only one thing missing in the iGuy for mini - actually, it’s missing from the iPod that’s inside. With full-sized, color-screened iPods, it was easy to give iGuy a face of your choosing: just upload something funny to the iPod’s photo gallery and select it. But with the now-discontinued black-and-white iPods, and similarly with today’s black-and-white iPod minis, you can’t do that; iGuy is only there as a funny holder, not as a miniature billboard you can customize. Perhaps additional colors and - darewesayit - clothes and accessories - would be a good next step?
We’re routinely asked about the weirdest iPod accessories we’ve seen, and there’s no doubt in our minds that iGuy and iGuy mini belong on that list - perhaps at the very top of it. They’re two of the funniest and most creative ideas yet, but also not practical as the “cases” they’re marketed to be, and the $34.95 asking price isn’t cheap. For these reasons, we think that people who like iGuys will love them, while others will shrug them off. On looks alone, we’re firmly in the love category, but won’t be using him on a daily basis - the hallmark of A-rated products. Regardless, the iGuys are great ideas, and continue to beg for further (and even more practical) exploitation.