capsule review

Contour Design iSee nano V3

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At a Glance
  • Contour Design iSee nano V3

Contour Design's iSee nano V3 is the third-generation (3G) iPod nano entry in the company's clear-plastic iSee line. As with previous iSee models, the nano v3 comprises two clear-plastic pieces--front and back--that provide near-all-over protection without adding much bulk. Because the case's plastic is polished and perfectly clear, your iPod's entire body is visible when in the case (hence the case's name). The downside to this approach is that such cases tend to themselves pick up, and show, scratches easily. (Contour Design seems to recognize this issue: The back of the case has four small, rubber nubs to prevent scratching when you place the case on a flat surface.)

The front and back pieces of the iSee snap together securely; even when dropping an iSee-encased nano onto a hard surface, the case didn't come apart. However, because there's no shock-absorbing material on the inside or outside of the case, the iSee doesn't provide much shock protection; you'll want to turn to Contour's Showcase nano V3 or another type of case for that. To remove the case, you insert a thin coin or screwdriver into a small slot on the side of the case and pry the front and back pieces apart.

Like the Showcase nano V3, the iSee nano V3 protects your iPod's Click Wheel using a removable, silicone "skin" covering that fills the Click-Wheel opening in the front of the case. (You can choose not to use this covering.) The bottom edge of your iPod nano is protected by a translucent, rubber, flip-out door. To plug in your headphones, you flip a small section of the door to the left to expose the iPod's headphone jack. To plug in a dock-connector cable, or to access the iPod's hold switch, you flip the entire door towards the back of the case to reveal the bottom edge of the nano. Although the door does protect the iPod's bottom ports, it also gets in the way at times. And because the nano's bottom edge is recessed into the case, the iSee doesn't accommodate many larger third-party headphone plugs, and you can't use bottom-mounted dock-connector accessories, or place your nano into a dock-cradle accessory, while your nano is in the case. As I mentioned in my review of the Showcase nano V3, I prefer the approach of Agent 18 and several other vendors, which make the bottom of the case flush with the bottom of the iPod.

Like the Showcase nano V3, the iSee nano V3 includes a removable, metal-and-plastic belt clip. However, in an odd design decision, the belt clip doesn't work with the stock back-panel section of the case. Instead, Contour Design includes a second back-panel section with a belt-clip mount; the clip attaches in any of four orientations. (This is the same mount found on the back of the Showcase nano V3.) If you plan on using the belt clip, you remove the stock back piece and instead use this second case piece; a white-plastic disc is included to cover the clip-attachment grooves when you're not using the clip. Given how similar the two back pieces are, and that the belt clip is removable, Contour Design could have helped the environment--and perhaps lowered the price of the case--by including only a single back piece.

Because the nano is so short, when the belt clip is attached so your iPod sits upright on your belt, the bottom of the clip partially blocks the dock-connector port on the bottom of the iPod; you have to remove the clip in order to connect Apple's dock-connector cable. But the clip is easily removed, and I like that doing so doesn't leave a protruding nub or post.

The wasteful issue of two back pieces aside, the iSee nano V3 is an attractive case that offers good protection. In fact, I like it better than the more-expensive Showcase nano V3 thanks to a more secure fit (although one that comes at a cost of easy removal). If you don't need to use your nano with bottom-mounted dock-connector accessories, or accessories that use a dock cradle, it's worth a look.
--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • Contour Design iSee nano V3

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