Pros: Nice, simple design that accentuates the iPod mini’s already good looks, works well with Griffin’s iTrip mini.
Cons: No Click Wheel or screen protection, not the best case option for those who demand complete protection, or those without the iTrip mini.
Silicone rubber cases for the iPod mini are now fairly common, and we’ve seen many that are good, with some that are even great. On first inspection, small Japanese company Tunewear’s premiere iPod product Icewear seems like just another silicone rubber case comparable to cases made by established iPod case makers Lajo and DLO, but thankfully Tunewear included three small but distinctive features that may interest some iPod mini owners.
Icewear is a transparent case – slightly more glassine than frosted – that protects everything except the iPod mini’s screen, Click Wheel, top, and Dock Connector port. From the front, it looks almost identical to Lajo’s standard exomini case, though it lacks the tiny strap loop that Lajo cases always include, and instead incorporates a set of prominent rubber ribs on each side. These ribs make Icewear easier to grasp, matching an elevated square box that surrounds the iPod mini’s screen, and giving Tunewear’s design an extra hint of coolness.
Otherwise, the case is very similar in look and feel to Lajo’s exomini, and for that matter DLO’s Jam Jacket Pro mini (minus the armband), offering plenty of anti-scratch and limited anti-drop protection for all the surfaces it covers. Unlike these cases, however, the hole for the Dock Connector port is large enough to accommodate most oversized connectors, a nice (if slightly less scratch-protective) touch.
In the past, we’ve had mixed feelings about the lack of top protection on some iPod mini cases: initially a no-top case design seemed like a bad idea given that the iPod mini’s plastic top and bottom surfaces are the most easily scratched, and especially since iSkin’s first mini case found a smart way to cover the iPod without precluding the use of many top-mounting accessories. But ever since the release of Griffin’s iTrip mini – perhaps the most appealing top-mounted accessory made for the iPod mini, which just happens not to fit with the iSkin mini case – suddenly an open-topped case seems like a good idea for some users. Since neither Lajo nor iSkin currently offers an open-topped case, Icewear is therefore a better match for the iSkin mini than these cases, comparable in this regard only to DLO’s Jam Jacket Pro.
Icewear’s third and final interesting feature is a rear design that includes two slits to make the case belt mountable.
Instead of requiring a belt clip, Tunewear has assumed that you can slide your belt through the slits and keep the iPod mini mounted without additional accessories – a fair enough assumption, though some may prefer an actual clip. Of course, with Tunewear’s design, you’ll need to undo your belt to remove the iPod mini unless you want to remove it from the Icewear case, but if that’s not a concern, this is a viable option.
Overall, we like the Icewear case, and think that it’s a good choice for users who have or plan to buy Griffin’s iTrip mini. While it’s not the most protective silicone rubber case we’ve seen for the iPod mini, and we would strongly urge Tunewear to at least offer some sort of screen protector in the future, Icewear’s simple design is an attractive first product from a new company. We certainly look forward to seeing their future offerings.
Jeremy Horwitz is a consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time.