Contour Design Showcase nano
We're big fans of Contour's Showcase iPod cases for full-size iPods, and the company has recently released a version for the much smaller second-generation iPod nano. Although the Showcase nano has a few shortcomings not found in the full-size version, it also features a couple unique new features and is one of our favorite cases for the second-generation nano.
Like the full-size Showcase, the nano version provides very good shock and scratch protection while showing off your iPod's own good looks. The clear-plastic front and rear sections of the case use a clamshell design to protect the front, back, sides, and top of your nano. A layer of black rubber covers the sides of the case and forms a border around the front and back; this rubber offers shock protection as well as a good grip. Despite the excellent protection, the case doesn't add much bulk to the nano's svelte frame.
Inside the case are a number of tiny rubber bumpers -- four in the back and five in the front -- that add shock protection by keeping your nano suspended away from the sides of the case. The only drawback to these bumpers is that the ones on the front are quite small -- enough so that after putting my nano in the case many times, the sharp top edge of the nano began to wear down the bumpers at the top. (Because of the case's open-bottom design, described below, it's easy to put your nano into the case too low and then need to slide it upward.)
Like the full-size Showcase, the two halves of the Showcase nano close, clamshell-style, and lock together using a sliding latch. The latch on this version of the case uses a single slider rather than the two-slider design of the larger Showcase. It's easy to get your nano in and out of the case while remaining quite secure.
The nano version of the showcase differs from its larger sibling in three significant ways. The first is that the Showcase nano protects your iPod's Click Wheel: A removable, silicone "skin" covering keeps scratches away and dirt out. The second is a new belt clip design: instead of the one-direction plastic clip used in the larger Showcase, the nano model includes a stainless-steel and plastic clip that can be attached -- via a spring-loaded mechanism -- to the back of the case in any of four orientations. Finally, The Showcase nano allows full access to the bottom edge of your nano via a removable, rubber panel. The idea behind this panel is that it fits in grooves in the bottom of the case; when the case is closed, the panel is securely attached, proving a flip-open door for the nano's headphone jack. Unfortunately, I found this panel to come out too easily, even without opening the case. And in order to implement this panel, the case is designed so that your nano's bottom edge is recessed into the case -- too far to accommodate many larger third-party headphone plugs. This also means that you can't use any bottom-mounted dock-connector accessories with your nano while in the case. Simply making the bottom of the case flush with the bottom of your nano, as Agent 18 does with its line of cases, might have been a better approach.
If you use third-party headphones with a large plug, or need to use accessories that connect to your nano via a dock-connector plug, this isn't the case for you. But if those restrictions don't apply, this is an attractive case that provides plenty of protection and some nice features; it's one of our favorite nano cases.--Dan Frakes
Contour Design Showcase nano