Pros: Beautiful, tassled iPod shuffle cotton fabric and leather fashion cases with strong Japanese influence, included lanyard with bulb for neck adjustment.
Cons: No access to shuffle’s controls while inside; use of included lanyard requires you to cut the one that came with your shuffle.
Case design could be viewed as science or art, and Japanese iPod accessory vendor Power Support demonstrates this fact better than any other company we can think of. On one hand, it makes some of the very best silicone rubber cases we’ve seen for the iPod shuffle – the precision designed, well thought-out, and super protective Silicone Jackets (iLounge rating: A-). On the other hand, it has recently purchased the rights to some of the most beautiful artistic cases we’ve seen – Miyavix’s Kimono cases for the iPod shuffle ($25.00).
These Kimono cases are spiritual successors to the company’s popular iPod mini and full-sized iPod Kimono cases (iLounge rating: A-), which we first spotted back in January of this year. We use the word spiritual because the two original cases were only a little shy of brilliant, combining beautiful Japanese fabric patterns with properly iPod-tailored leather and holes. The look mightn’t have been right for every iPod owner, but they were incredibly bold and impressive designs.
The new shuffle Kimonos use the same black leather and even bolder floral fabrics – one is described as rattan yellow, another crimson red, and the last pale blue. Miyavix’s yellow case includes a dangling green tassle and an orange lanyard; the red case a magenta tassle and red lanyard; the blue case a blue tassle and slightly lighter lanyard. Each of the lanyards uses a black bulb to hold its sides together and permit easy adjustment around the neck.
Initially, the lanyards didn’t make a lot of sense. Each Kimono includes a black leather snap that closes over the shuffle’s bottom cap, and there’s a hole at the top of the case for headphones. Do you insert your standard USB capped shuffle, pass the lanyard through the leather loop and snap the case closed? If so, how do you guarantee that the shuffle stays in place?
In fact, Miyavix’s Japanese web site and instructions suggest that you cut your iPod shuffle’s lanyard and pass through the replacement lanyard in its place. Then you open the snap on the case, stick your shuffle in, and close it with the new lanyard hanging out. Alternately, you use your lanyard cap with its original rope and don’t sweat the color difference. Ta-da – unless your lanyard cap comes loose, there’s no risk of having your shuffle fall out. And even then, it’s unlikely: the case uses pressure to grip the shuffle pretty tightly.
But the other oddity of the Kimono design is that it makes no real effort to provide access to the shuffle’s controls while inside. Diagrams suggest that you pop the shuffle out of the top hole of the case to use the controls, and practically speaking, this is your only option – the case is too thick to use the shuffle’s buttons. The older Kimono cases left holes for their iPods’ controls, and Power Support’s screen and Click Wheel guards make the lack of fabric protection easier to deal with. This compromise isn’t quite as easy or as smart, though it is more protective.
It’s because of design decisions like these that if there were only two schools of thought on case design, we would have to be inclined to lean towards the scientific approach over the artistic one. Power Support’s scientific Silicone Jacket found all the right ways to protect the shuffle and make it usable without screwing around. Between the lanyard cutting and the lack of control access, Kimono makes you do a couple of things you might not want to do in order to fully use the case – on your neck, at least. If you’re going to pocket or bag your shuffle, then all you need to worry about are the controls.
These issues aside, each case is undeniably attractive. The magneta-tassled Kimono in particular has a beautiful pattern, but all three cases could as easily be in fashion shows as in the possession of average people. Gold accents on two of the cases are especially eye-catching, with each of the tassles a close second.
Overall, these are good but not great iPod shuffle cases. Control access is key, and one of the reasons the Silicone Jacket for iPod shuffle was so impressive was that it was as practical as it was protective. Similarly, the earlier Kimono cases were beautiful and practical – the new Kimono cases are just beautiful. If you’re the sort of person who lives the shuffle lifestyle to its fullest – press play and enjoy whatever comes on – you’re most likely to enjoy the shuffle Kimono, especially if you don’t mind chopping your lanyard cap to accommodate the new rope. If not, we’d strongly urge a look at the company’s better thought-out Silicone Jacket instead.
Company and Price
Model: Kimono Cases
Compatible: iPod shuffle