Pros: Simple but great design makes your iPod mini look even cooler in person, protects all of its surfaces (save its top and Action button) against scratch and shock damage, reasonable price.
Cons: Top of iPod is exposed (under a lip), as is Action button.
The editors of iLounge have been following the development efforts of Japanese iPod accessory maker Power Support for almost two years. With products that were previously available only to Japanese consumers, Power Support’s designs – attributed to Ryoichi Mase – have always seemed to transcend mere functionality, instead combining great features with unique design.
And some but not all of their products are commensurately expensive, a fact that is explained in this way by a representative of Power Support: “we are hoping that the high quality of the products will be appreciated by the discriminating Apple consumer. We realize our products may not be for the masses.”
Having tested seven of the company’s new products, which are available now for the first time to customers in the United States, we partially agree. There is no disputing that the products are high quality, and that they will be appreciated by discriminating buyers. But we also think that most of Power Support’s products are quite ready for the masses. The only issue is whether the masses will learn about them, or whether Power Support will remain the well-kept secret of serious iPod fanatics.
Many people evoke the old saying, “rules are made to be broken,” but few people break the right rules in the right ways. The Square Type Silicone Jacket Set from Power Support is one of the rare positive exceptions, breaking an iPod case design rule (“make it match the iPod’s curves”) with a unique approach that works visually and practically.
Having tested so many iPod and iPod mini cases, we’re all too aware that the market is now cluttered with too-similar options, and as reviewers, it’s a challenge to get excited when we see the same case design over and over again. By the same token, we focus a lot of attention on little improvements here and there, because even small differences between cases can make one product more useful or aggravating than another.
Power Support makes two Silicone Jackets for the iPod mini. The Round Type Silicone Jacket is highly similar to other cases we’ve seen, so we’re holding off on that review for a bit, but we felt compelled to immediately review the company’s Square Type version.
The Square Type Silicone Jacket stands apart from all of its competitors primarily because of its shape: using square edges, the case is a perfectly rectangular rubber box, a perversion of the iPod’s soft curves that frankly we could not have imagined would look so cool in person. Because of its shape and use of translucent rubber material, the Square Type case is like a small block of frosted ice, turning the iPod mini’s metal edges into reflective, almost prismatic shades of color, and giving the mini the ability to stand up on its top or bottom sides without further assistance. In person, it is undeniably cool despite its break with all past iPod case conventions, and adds unusual emphasis to the iPod’s contrast with its digital audio competitors: the case apes the boxiness of so many other designs, yet uses translucence to show the unique treasure inside. Rubber square edges also just happen to add several extra millimeters of thickness at points to the case’s anti-shock ability.
Each Square Type set from Power Support includes three pieces: the silicone rubber case, one transparent screen protector called Crystal Film, and one transparent Click Wheel protector called Wheel Film. Together, these three parts cover the entire iPod mini save its top, Dock Connector port, and Action Button, which is almost the maximum amount of iPod mini protection we’ve seen in a rubber case. (Only Lajo’s exoflpmini provides more, and then only when combined with the iShades screen protectors, which are sold separately.)
A millimeter or two of rubber lip separates that top edge of the case from the mini, so even if the Square Type-encased mini were dropped on its top, the case would absorb the blow. As the mini doesn’t fall out of the case when it’s turned upside down – mostly because of the extra gripping strength of the Square Type’s edges – this small lip turns out to be as good of a solution as we’ve seen for providing both true top-mounting accessory access and a fair amount of protection. (The thin membrane surface on iSkin’s mini case, for example, blocks a major peripheral but better covers the iPod mini’s top.) With the Square Type case, scratching is our only remaining concern.
Dock Connector exposure is relatively minimal: the hole is just large enough for Apple and Belkin accessory cables, which is perfect for our in-home and in-car purposes. Though users of other companies’ bottom-mounting accessories may have issues, we found the size to be good for most of the accessories we attach to our iPod mini. Power Support could make the hole a little larger in the future, but doesn’t need to change it much to reach perfection.
Value and Conclusions
Given that combination of the Square Type case and the two Films sells for $22.00, we would not hesitate to recommend this protective and seriously interesting case design to any iPod user. It’s competitive on price with other offerings, about equally protective with anything else made to date, and very cool to look at. We commend Power Support for taking the design risk and doing something so visually different with the shape of the iPod mini: they’ve created the rare product that bulks up the mini’s curves in a cool and useful way.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge. A consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time, Jeremy’s recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school -ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Company: Power Support
Compatible: iPod mini