Review: Marware SportSuit Safari for iPod mini

Pros: It’s cute enough for younger users, adequately protects the iPod mini against scratching and typical drops, belt strap rather than clip a good idea.

Cons: No screen or control access unless you pop the mini outside of the case; lanyard isn’t as fashionable as it might have been.

Review: Marware SportSuit Safari for iPod mini

Marware SportSuit Basic, Convertible, Runabout and Safari

Marware is now shipping the black-colored SportSuit Basic, a $24.95 case that is almost identical to the Action Jacket, save a few particulars, the more interesting $34.95 workout version called the SportSuit Convertible, a middle-of-road $29.95 wristband variant called the SportSuit Runabout, and an entirely different fur-covered $19.95 pouch design called the SportSuit Safari. Each case has advantages and disadvantages; only one scored an iLounge Excited rating. Note that this review is excerpted from a longer combination review of all of these products, see the separate Marware mini case reviews for additional details.

SportSuit Safari

Last in Marware’s new line is the SportSuit Safari, a new case concept that younger female iPod mini users may like. Unlike the functional neoprene and vinyl SportSuits, the Safari is a simple pouch that happens to be sized for the iPod mini and coated with faux fur.

Like the other SportSuits, the Safari’s neoprene interior is scratch-proof, but this case offers neither visual or sensory access to the iPod mini’s screen or controls. It’s a furry little bag that partially closes with a fabric and Velcro strip, leaving only the headphone jack and hold switch accessible. If you’re looking for a young fashion statement rather than brilliant design, this is your case.

Review: Marware SportSuit Safari for iPod mini

But for the $19.95 price, the Safari does include a few nice touches. Each case includes an adjustable neoprene lanyard to turn the mini into a necklace, a small metal D-ring to connect with the lanyard, and a fabric rear strap that’s just the right size to attach to a belt.

A small rubber Marware logo and a fabric Marware tag are the only branding elements on the case, though the lanyard also has a large logo and name on the back of its soft, oversized neckband. We found the neckband comfortable, if slightly on the large side, a contrast with less noticeable but thinner and itchier string lanyards.

You’ll either like or dismiss the six SportSuit Safari designs, which are identical save for color: panther (black), polar bear (white), lion (yellow), flamingo (pink), giraffe (yellow with brown spots) and leopard (yellow with black blotches). The faux fur feels inexpensive but appropriately durable for the price, good enough to throw in a purse without worrying about damage to an iPod.

Given their relatively low prices, we see the Safari cases as inexpensive impulse buys, niche-specific enough that we can overlook their lack of general appeal.