Given the popularity of Nike’s new Nike+iPod Sport Kit (also reviewed here on Playlist), it’s not surprising that we’ve seen a number of new cases specifically designed to hold an iPod nano with the Sport Kit receiver connected. And the first such case, appropriately enough, comes from Nike itself. The Nike+ Sport Armband is a thin, lightweight armband, made of Nike’s Pro Compression fabric (much like thin neoprene), that holds your nano and Nike+iPod receiver on your upper arm during exercise.
Like most armbands, Nike’s Armband holds your nano in a thin pouch in the case’s larger middle section; you slide the player into a rubber-ringed opening at the top. However, unlike most armbands, this one provides additional room at the bottom to accommodate the Sport Kit receiver. A small hole in the same area provides access to your nano’s headphone jack; unfortunately, the hole is very small, so larger headphone plugs don’t fit very well. But more significantly, unlike nearly every other armband we’ve seen, there’s no window or clear front piece through which to see your iPod’s screen and operate its controls. Instead, Nike’s Armband has a fabric pouch that completely obscures the nano’s screen. For most people, I suspect this lack of access to the iPod’s screen will be the Armband’s biggest flaw. Although it’s true that armbands, by design, make it difficult to see your player’s screen — your upper arm isn’t the most visible place on your body — the way this particular armband is designed you can’t even see the screen when you’re holding the iPod in your hand. The fact that the Sport Kit displays your run progress on the nano’s screen makes such a design decision even more puzzling.
On the plus side, the Armband provides embossed control labels to indicate where the nano’s Click Wheel resides; you can use the Click Wheel through the case, and the tactile feel makes it easier to do so when your nano is out of sight on your upper arm.
Like most armbands, Nike’s Armband is secured to your arm using large Velcro patches on each strap; a larger patch on one side lets you secure the Armband to different arm sizes. Although the straps aren’t short enough to wear the Armband on a forearm (unless you’ve got fairly big forearms), they provide a good fit for range of bicep sizes, approximately 9 to 14 inches.
Nike’s Sport Armband is the lightest, and possibly the most comfortable, iPod nano armband we’ve tested, and the first that accommodates the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. However, if you want to be able to see your iPod’s screen, this isn’t the case for you.–Dan Frakes