Review: STM Mini Cocoon Travel Case
Pros: Protects iPod mini perfectly for most travel purposes; looks and feels great. Includes both hard and soft cases, is available in two color options, and improves upon design of excellent earlier product.
Cons: Top hole doesn’t entirely zip closed; included soft case isn’t optimally protective when used without the hard shell.
What’s next when you’ve already made a near-perfect iPod travel case? Make one specific to the iPod mini. And improve it. Amazingly enough, that’s what Australia’s Standard TM has done. The company’s previous Cocoon case (iLounge rating: A) is still our favorite travel case, and now the Mini Cocoon has done it one better.
In quick summary of the previous product, the genius of Standard TM’s design is in a two-piece enclosure: a clear iPod sheathe that can be carried with or without a resilient grey hard shell. While the sheathe is decidedly simple, adequately protecting the iPod when you’re on the go, the hard shell is there to absorb the more serious knocks and scratches involved in travel. The rubber sheathed iPod easily fits inside the shell, the shell zippers up, and you carry the cocooned iPod with an included lanyard necklace, a sturdy integrated belt clip, or a metal eyelet that attaches to separate clips on bags. A mesh pocket inside the Cocoon has room for earbuds, while a hole at the case’s top lets you use your iPod even when cocooned inside.
The Mini Cocoon is basically a shrunken version of the full-sized Cocoon, but with five differences. First, STM is now using a silicone rubber sheathe instead of the vinyl ones it had for 3G iPods in last year’s model. The new frosted clear sheathe has no screen, top, Wheel, or Dock Connector protection, so your uncocooned iPod is slightly more exposed than before. But it fits well and looks good. As with last year’s model, we’re less concerned about the sheathe’s exposed areas because of the product’s intended use with the protective outer shell.
Second, STM has done away with the Velcro pads it previously attached to the back of its sheathe and one interior panel. The purpose was to hold the sheathed iPod in place with Velcro, but the consequence was that wearing the sheathed iPod outside of the hard shell constantly exposed users to a Velcro patch. STM now includes a clear vinyl strip on the shell’s interior panel to hold the iPod mini in there with or without the sheathe if you prefer, but as with the earlier Cocoon, you won’t likely need to use it. There’s not a lot of extra space inside the shell.
Third, though the lanyard still includes a detachable clasping mechanism, the materials have switched from grey fabric and black plastic to clear plastic, which looks equally nice. Fourth, the case no longer includes a Dock Connector hole at its bottom; if you want to plug in your iPod, you can do it through the sheathe, which has a hole properly sized for Apple and non-Apple plugs alike. Fifth and finally, STM’s made color tweaks to the case, shifting to two options: a nice, non-metallic dark gray for both interior and exterior, or a lilac color that we haven’t tested.
With the possible exception of the lack of screen protection in the sheathe, all of STM’s changes were positive or neutral, and again, the screen issue is modest given the way this case was meant to be used. The outside shell is there and works very well to protect the iPod mini against drop, scratch, and even typical crush damage; we feel comfortable using and recommending its use inside of bags and other cramped containers.
We didn’t have any major issues with the Mini Cocoon’s design. A handful of people might want to be able to zip the Cocoon’s top entirely closed, but we felt good about the level of protection as-is. similarly, while it would be nice to be able to remove the belt clip for an even slimmer profile, the case does pretty well with the integrated option STM includes. These are trivial wish list points from our perspective rather than necessities.
Overall, there’s no doubt in our minds that the Mini Cocoon is the first case we would choose to travel with when going anywhere with an iPod mini. It helps that the case was built upon STM’s earlier solid Cocoon foundation – one that we’ve trusted before and enjoyed using for travel, and repeatedly found better suited to our needs than options that have subsequently emerged. Niche issues aside, there’s really not much left that STM could improve about this case design. It’s another highly recommended, solid A product from down under.
Added 6/2005: Subsequent to our original review, we’ve had a chance to check out the lilac Mini Cocoon, which is depicted in the photos above. It’s identical to the gray Mini Cocoon, only in a medium shade of purple, with nice light gray accents on its sides and dark gray on the interior.
Both the Mini Cocoon and its predecessor are now distributed in the United States by RadTech, along with a clear vinyl iPod mini case called the Mini Skin (above, sold separately for $15.95) that serves as a replacement for the rubber one packed in with the Mini Cocoon. For additional details on the Mini Skin, see our updated Cocoon review.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.