capsule review

iPod Case Roundup: Nano Hardshells

At a Glance
  • Marware Sidewinder for iPod nano

    Macworld Rating
  • Tunewear Tuneshell for iPod nano

    Macworld Rating
  • Agent 18 Shield for 3G nano

    Macworld Rating

With a player as sleek and svelte as the third-generation iPod nano, it’s a shame to hide it away in a bulky case that obscures the iPod’s natural beauty. But at the same time, you want to keep your little bundle of joy protected from the harsh outside world. This week’s case roundup takes a look at three clear plastic hardshell cases for your third-generation iPod nano that’ll keep the music playing without skipping a beat.

Agent 18 Shield for 3G Nano

Agent 18 Shield for 3G nano

Simple and to the point, the $20 Agent 18 Shield for 3G nano is a two piece clear hardshell case that covers the iPod from head to toe in thick, resilient polycarbonate. The bottom is left open so you can use the hold switch, headphone jack, and dock-connector port, and there’s an opening for the Click Wheel. While much of the case has a “lightly-frosted” appearance, the window for the screen is left clear, as is a small square of plastic over the Apple logo on the nano’s backside.

The front and back halves of the case simply snap together, and it’s easy enough to open the case—in some cases perhaps a little too easy. In a couple of my early tests, tossing the nano onto a carpeted floor caused the case to come apart and the nano to fall out, but after I took the case apart and put it back together again, it seemed to hold up better. Still, it’s something to beware of if you’re considering buying this case.

Marware Sidewinder for iPod nano

Marware Sidewinder for iPod nano

Marware’s made a number of Sidewinder cases for different iPod models and, like those, the version for the 3G iPod nano features an extendable arm that works as a cable wrap for your earbuds. In other regards, though, the $25 Sidewinder for iPod nano is a fairly ordinary clear plastic hardshell. There’s an opening at the bottom for the hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack, and one on the front of the case for the Click Wheel. Getting the nano into the case is different from many hardshells. Rather than having two pieces that snap together with the iPod in between, the Sidewinder has a little cover that pops off the top rear of the case. Then you can just slide the nano in and reattach the cover. That construction means the nano is less likely to fall out of the case by accident.

The case also comes with a thin adhesive protector for the Click Wheel and the screen (even though the screen is covered by the case itself). There’s also a belt clip that uses Marware’s Multidapt system, along with an adhesive mount for it. Once you attach the mount, you cannot easily take it off again, though you can detach the included belt clip.

The built-in arm, which slides out of the back of the case, does add some extra bulk to the construction, making it a little bigger than other similar cases. Once extended, you can wrap the headphone cables around the arm and then use one of the two grooves to keep the cords in place, presuming you’re using earphones of similar size and cable thickness to Apple’s own. Using the belt clip puts a little more bulk on the case, as does using the cable wrap, but if you don’t find those extensions unwieldy, and you find the integrated earbud wrap useful, the Sidewinder is a good option.

Tunewear Tuneshell for iPod nano

Tunewear Tuneshell for iPod nano

Tunewear’s $20 Tuneshell for the iPod nano is among the slimmest transparent hard cases I’ve seen. Besides using thin—but no less durable— polycarbonate, it achieves the low profile by using a two-piece construction where the front faceplate actually snaps into the back piece. Once put together, the only openings are for the Click Wheel on the front, and on the bottom for the hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack. If you need to take the iPod out, the front easily snaps out, though not so easily that you’re likely to do it by accident.

The only extra feature of the case is a small included lanyard that threads through two small holes on the bottom rear of the case. Altogether, while the Tuneshell may lack the bells and whistles of some of the other cases we’ve looked at, it’s excellent at keeping your iPod safe and sound, which really ought to be the primary goal of every case.

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At a Glance
  • Marware Sidewinder for iPod nano

    Macworld Rating
  • Tunewear Tuneshell for iPod nano

    Macworld Rating
  • Agent 18 Shield for 3G nano

    Macworld Rating
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