capsule review

TuneWear IceWear mini

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At a Glance
  • TuneWear IceWear mini

Like other skin cases, TuneWear's IceWear protects your mini in a layer of silicone. However, it has a few unique features that set it apart from most of the competition. For starters, whereas most other skin cases wrap around the top of the iPod -- allowing you to access the player's top controls but preventing you from using top-mounted accessories such as FM transmitters and remote controls -- the IceWear leaves the top edge of your iPod mini exposed. This provides slightly less protection, but it means you can use such top-mounted accessories without having to remove your iPod from the case. (And the truth is that unless you drop your iPod directly onto the top edge, this exposure isn't likely to result in damage.) The left and right edges of the IceWear also feature thick silicone ridges which offer both a better grip and better shock protection in case you drop your iPod mini.

The IceWear also provides a unique approach to the traditional "belt clip." Instead of using a removeable belt clip -- which adds bulk and usually still leaves a nub or post behind when removed -- TuneWear has integrated a belt loop into the case itself: The back of the case provides two slits, through which you weave your belt or bag strap. Although this design makes it more difficult to quickly remove the case from your belt or bag, it's much more secure than a traditional belt clip, and I appreciate the sleeker form factor.

As with most skin cases, the IceWear leaves your mini's Click Wheel exposed/accessible and provides a hole on the bottom of the case to accommodate Apple's dock connector cable. However, unlike many current skins, the IceWear also leaves the iPod's screen exposed -- TuneWear's philosophy is that screen protectors make it more difficult to view the screen. Instead, the case provides a raised bezel -- several millimeters thick -- around the screen to help deflect blows to the area. A small object or sharp corner could conceivably hit the screen, but most larger objects should be blocked. This design doesn't protect the screen as well as the rigid screen protectors used by some other cases, but it's an interesting approach.

I also like the type of silicone used in the IceWear, which TuneWear describes as the same grade as that used in professional diving masks -- its clearer than the silicone in most other cases, and you immediately notice how much softer and stickier it feels.

Overall, the IceWear isn't the most protective iPod mini skin -- look to Speck's ToughSkin mini for the ultimate in protection -- but it's certainly the most unique in terms of useful design touches. If it provided a rigid screen protector, it would likely be our favorite "skin" case for the iPod mini. But even as-is, we like it a lot.--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • TuneWear IceWear mini

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