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The iPod nano's light weight and small form factor make it an ideal candidate for an active lifestyle. The only trouble is finding a case that can accommodate this kind of usage and all the risks that go along with it. While the RadTech Acclaro may aspire to be just such a case, instead of coming across as versatile, it appears to be suffering from an identity crisis. Though it's not a complete failure, it does have some bizarre design flaws that might make you think twice.
A clear acrylic hardshell with a circular opening for the nano's click wheel, the Acclaro has a hinged construction that makes inserting and removing the iPod a breeze. Two locks on the sides of the case secure it; you slide both upwards to unlock it, and the entire front half of the case swings up on a hinge, allowing you to place the nano inside. The bottom of the case is open for access to the dock connector and the headphone jack. The simplicity with which you can insert and remove the nano is easily the Acclaro's best feature.
The case comes with a bevy of carrying options. The default is a neck lanyard that is securely threaded through the case's hinge at the top. RadTech also includes a strangely long wrist strap that seems rather more like a second lanyard, complete with a quick-release plastic connector like those found on many flash drives. In addition, an elastic Velcro armband is available for an extra $5; it threads through a slot on the back of the case which supposedly doubles as a belt loop, though no belt I owned would fit through it.
The Acclaro suffers from other odd design decisions. The placement of the hinge at the top of the case means that the iPod's hold switch is completely inaccessible while inside. But the nylon neck lanyard, which is threaded through the hinge, is the case's strangest "feature." The lanyard is held together with a clasp that takes a fair amount of effort to unsnap (I had to use a screwdriver to pry it apart), and though the lanyard is billed as "detachable," the process to remove it is as follows: unsnap the lanyard's clasp, pull one end of the lanyard through the clasp, cut off the knot that secures it, remove the clasp, and unthread the lanyard. Should you want to put it back on, you'd need to do the process in reverse: rethread the lanyard through the hinge, then through the clasp, then tie a knot to secure it again. If you want to alternate between using the lanyard and, say, the armband, you're stuck repeating this process over and over again -- eventually shortening the lanyard to an unusable length.
In general, the acrylic doesn't have the sturdiest feel to it and, having broken a number of plastic things in my life, I'm somewhat hesitant to entrust the delicate nano to it. All it takes is one of the small plastic pieces of the lock to break while you're out jogging, and your nano could quite conceivably be off and running without you.--Dan Moren