Pros: iPod mini-sized enclosure that offers full waterproof and anti-shock protection, plus a quality belt clip and rope necklace.
Cons: No screen or control access while inside; waterproof headphones still sold separately.
If you’ve read our review of Eroch Studios’ LiliPod, you already know almost all there is to know about the company’s new Lili mini ($34.99) waterproof case for the iPod. They’re almost the same case, only in different sizes, the latter made exclusively to hold the iPod mini inside.
The key feature of the LiliPod is the one that distinguishes it from every competing iPod case subsequently released: it’s actually watertight. Safe to submerge in a pool or bathtub, the LiliPod is also the only iPod case you’d take in the shower. It’s also shock-resistant, and therefore one of the safer cases you can use when rock climbing or participating in extreme sports. Since we wrote about it in February 2004, a few competitors have appeared, but each has promised only water and/or shock resistance, and has in fact leaked when given a submersion test.
Not so with the Lili mini. A black clasp on the right front side of the hard, all-white plastic shell opens to split the case in two; pop your iPod mini in upside down, and a headphone plug on the bottom left side slides easily into the mini’s port. A soft foam interior holds the iPod mini in place and guarantees that no matter how much the case is abused, the mini inside will be fine.
Like the LiliPod, Eroch’s web site humorously touts the Lili mini as appropriate for virtually any outdoor activity, and it is. Rubber seals at the case’s splitting point and on the headphone jack kept the mini safely dry in our submersion and splash testing.
You still get an adjustable silver and black necklace cord with the Lili mini, and it’s a quality piece of rope: thick, well-woven, and soft to the touch on your neck. At 42 in total length, it’s more than adequate to hang however low you want it to hang, but you’ll probably want to adjust the plastic sizer to keep it at a comfortable level. The other alternative is to use the sturdy integrated rear belt clip, which may be more appropriate depending on where you’re going with your mini. The neck cord is easy to remove from the case, but a fair challenge to get back on, so if you’re planning to use the case only with the belt clip, be forewarned.
Like its older brother, the Lili mini has two limitations. First, you have absolutely no access to the iPod’s screen and controls when inside; you’re best off hitting play on a playlist if you’re going to use it, because you can’t even connect a remote control. Second, for any of the case’s most exciting uses, you’re going to need waterproof headphones, and Eroch still doesn’t sell them. They’re still available separately from this link for a reasonable price; we wish that Eroch would make a bundle available with a quality pair, as we’ve tested some that weren’t too impressive. You can also use the case with any standard pair of headphones, assuming you’re going to go near water with them.
A third issue we had with the LiliPod has been partially remedied: it used to be likely that the case’s top would rub against the iPod when you opened it up, but now, if you insert the iPod mini properly and don’t jostle the case, that won’t happen. Shake the case while running, for example, and it’ll still happen, but the mini’s less susceptible to scratching, so it doesn’t matter quite as much now. And there’s one other difference: the bottom headphone port is now closer to the case rather than dangling from an extended cord, a neutral change.
The paucity of other fully competitive options continues to make Eroch’s Lili cases waterproof standouts, and the company’s $34.99 price only helps – it’s a good value for the dollar. While the lack of front UI access won’t endear the case to control freaks, and begs to be properly engineered around, there’s no doubt that the Lili mini provides as weathersafe an environment as has yet been devised for the iPod mini.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.
Company and Price
Company: Eroch Studios
Model: Lili mini Waterproof Case
Compatible: iPod mini