Review: iSkin mini

Pros: Quality rubber, includes belt clip and nice screen guard, top-mounting peripheral compatibility, above-average protection of the iPod mini, good colors.

Cons: Lacks Click Wheel protection, belt clip is on the small side, Dock Connector cover slightly tough to open.

Review: iSkin mini

After last month’s onslaught of different silicone rubber cases from Lajo, competitor iSkin has released its iSkin mini case – a smaller version of the eVo case we’ve reviewed for third-generation iPods. Like the eVo, the iSkin mini resembles Lajo’s standard eXo silicone case design, lacking Click Wheel protection but covering almost everything else on the iPod.

The key differences between iSkin and Lajo offerings are the pack-ins: iSkin includes a hard plastic screen protector, a fully integrated rotating belt clip, and a 3G iPod-sized plastic carrying case to hold all the pieces, while Lajo generally makes these parts optional. At $24.95, however, the iSkin mini is priced lower overall than Lajo’s otherwise comparable exomini case would be if you purchased the same accessories from both companies.

Review: iSkin mini

Critically, however, iSkin is the first on the block to offer a detachable iPod mini screen protector – a smaller version of the one we really liked with the eVo – which thankfully integrates tiny rubber grips on its corners to hold fast to the iPod’s screen without scratching. We love the way iSkin’s screen protection works. Another bonus is the iSkin mini’s top, which like the eVo allows you to attach top-mounting peripherals such as Griffin’s iTrip and Ten’s NaviPod without removing the case.

Both of these well-implemented features push iSkin’s case over the top into the Excited rating category.

The iSkin mini is also a bit more dapper than Lajo’s exomini case: elevated “goosebumps” at the top actually offer superior grip on the rubber, and some nice curved edges on the bottom of the case add additional style. Four small rubber nubs elevate the otherwise flat back of the case slightly off any surface, and now unnecessary heat dissipation holes have been carried over from the eVo design as well. Also like the eVo, the belt clip includes two pieces – one that goes inside the case and locks the second, outside piece on tight. We would have liked the inner piece to be scratch-proofed with soft plastic tape like the eVo’s part was, but then, the mini’s rear is nowhere near as susceptible to damage as the 3G iPod’s.

Review: iSkin mini

Nine colors of the iSkin mini will likely be enough for most users – four of the colors glow in the dark, including the Wasabi (green) and Ghost (white) cases we tested. While most of the colors look close to what iSkin shows on its site, some eVo users were disappointed that the Vamp (purple) colored case isn’t quite the shade it’s advertised to be.

We note that the other shades aren’t quite as vibrant, either. Consider yourself fairly warned.

There are only a few other minor issues. We found iSkin’s integrated Dock Connector cover hard to flip open without a long fingernail, and it’s on the small side – contrasting with the ample flip-open bottom on Lajo’s eXoflpmini case. We’re also still a bit iffy on the strength of the belt clip, even though iSkin says that it’s not going to shatter. But the lack of Click Wheel protection is the only thing we really miss in the design.