capsule review

iPod case roundup: Nano mishmash

At a Glance

As much as I’d like to treat readers to another “theme weeks” for iPod cases, I’m running a bit short on cases of any particular style. So this week please enjoy a delectable multi-case assortment. The four cases we look at share at least one common element: they’re all designed for the third-generation iPod nano. But within this diverse hodgepodge, we’ve got something for everyone: a couple silicone skins, a leather slipcase, and a neoprene sleeve.

Incase Protective Cover for iPod nano

Silicone skins are already about the simplest kind of case you can get for your iPod; Incase’s $25 Protective Cover for iPod nano ( ) is simple even by those regards. This piece of molded silicone wraps around your case, covering the back and outside edges. The large front opening leaves pretty much the entire face of the iPod nano visible and an opening along the bottom edge gives you access to the hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack.

Incase Protective Cover

Although the open front means you have unrestricted access to all of the iPod’s controls, from a protective standpoint, it isn’t going to do much to keep your iPod safe and secure. The raised edge of silicone might provide a little shock protection if you drop your iPod on the floor, but if you’re worried about sticking your iPod into your pocket or purse along with keys, change, etc., then the Protective Cover probably isn’t going to allay those fears.

The silicone itself is fairly thick and durable and the back features a wavy pattern that makes it easy to grip, but that’s about all that this case has going for it. The price tag is also pretty steep for a skin that leaves this much real estate unprotected; if you’re in the market for a silicone case, you’re probably best off looking elsewhere.

Uniea U-Suit for iPod nano

Uniea U-Suit

Uniea bills its U-Suit for iPod nano ( ) as a “leather hard case” since it features a leather exterior with a reinforced ABS plastic interior. In form, it’s basically a sleeve; you slip the nano in at the top, which is open, and the case covers the back, the edge around the screen, and the face on either side of the Click Wheel. The controls and screen are left exposed, though recessed, but Uniea also includes a thin adhesive film to protect the screen.

All of the iPod’s controls remain easily accessible when it’s in the sleeve; the open bottom lets you get at the hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack. I found the edges on either side of the Click Wheel a little annoying when scrolling (my thumb kept hitting them), but it didn’t seem to adversely affect the nano’s operation. The leather exterior is pleasant to the touch and the case is robust enough to keep the nano pretty well-protected; the interior features a soft lining that won’t scratch the iPod.

The one major downside to the U-Suit is that the case is rather on the bulky side. The third-generation nano is the thinnest that Apple has ever made and although the reinforced leather doesn’t make it particularly hevavy, it does substantially increase the iPod’s profile. If it’s svelte lines you’re after, the U-Suit probably won’t meet your needs, but if you’re in the market for a decent leather sleeve, it ought to be fine.

Bone Collection Nano3 Cube

Bone Nano3 Cube

Don’t be deceived by the name: the $18 Nano3 Cube ( ) is not a cube. Rather, the front features a distinctive chessboard pattern. The case’s design leaves the screen exposed, though Bone also includes a thin adhesive film that you can affix; the Click Wheel is covered by the case and even features raised markings over each of the wheel’s buttons. The back of the case has raised bumps that make it easy to grip and also has a small hole for hosting a lanyard (not included). The bottom edge of the case leaves an opening for getting at all of the ports and controls there: the hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack.

Overall, the case itself is thin, not adding a lot of bulk or weight to the nano. It’s enough to keep the nano pretty well protected too, though I would have preferred a hard plastic screen protector over the adhesive film. Otherwise, however, the Nano3 Cube is a solid silicone skin at a pretty reasonable price.

Incase Neoprene Sleeve for iPod nano

Our second entry from case vendor Incase is the company’s $25 Neoprene Sleeve for the iPod nano ( ). The case is made mainly of neoprene, though the front and back feature heavier plastic panels stitched to the stretchy sleeve material. An opening lets you access the Click Wheel, but Incase thoughtfully protects the screen with a flexible plastic window. The back of the case has a fixed belt clip, oriented upside down from the nano.

Incase Neoprene Sleeve

To insert the nano into the case, you insert it from bottom, then fasten a Velcro strip to keep the nano from slipping out. The fastener covers the dock-connector port, but lets you get at the hold switch and headphone jack. You can, however, sync or charge the nano without taking it out of the case by simply unfastening the Velcro.

I like the addition of the sturdy belt clip, but it does add a decent amount of bulk to the case, as does the external stitching on the neoprene around the case’s edges. However, the sleeve does a good job of both protecting the nano and leaving its controls accessible. For those in search of a sporty, resilient case, the Neoprene Sleeve is a very respectable option.

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At a Glance
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