AVA nano Elements
At a Glance
AVA's Elements case for iPod nano is basically a metallic version of their Smooth E case, which we've rated highly. Instead of a smooth, black liquid-polymer finish, the model I tested was shiny chrome that looked like the back of an iPod.
Like the Smooth E, the Elements is a two-piece hardshell case. It has great protective features including a hard-plastic screen protector built-in. There's an opening in the case for the Click Wheel, slightly recessed to prevent damage, and another slot at the bottom to get at the dock-connector port and headphone jack. To open the case, you pull up on the face of the case and then pull down (though the process is actually pretty simple, AVA includes a detailed installation guide, a thoughtful touch). After removing the case's entire face, you place the nano into the felt-lined interior and then reattach the front. Also like the Smooth E, the Elements features an external hold switch that you line up with the nano's own hold switch. This works great and remains the best method I've yet seen for accessing the hold switch when inside a case. Also included are a lanyard, a magnetic cable grip for your headphones, and a pouch in which to store your earbuds.
The Elements also shares the Smooth E's minor flaws. The opening at the bottom of the case for the dock connector and headphones is a tight fit for some third-party accessories like SendStation's PocketDock FireWire and my third-party headphone plug fit, but barely. Also, the Elements' inside cavity is just a tad bigger than the nano, so you can feel the nano rattle around slightly if you shake the case.
Overall, the Elements is an excellent case, just like its less-flashy brother. It does cost slightly more than the Smooth E, due to its metallic finish, so you'll have to decide if that aesthetic factor is worth the extra money for what is basically the same case. --Dan Moren