Incase’s Neoprene Case for the first-generation (1G) iPod nano might not offer the sleek lines of a silicone case, or the rugged protection of a hardshell, but it’s still a decent offering, with features like good accessibility, solid protection, and a robust belt clip. Though it’s called a “Neoprene” case, the neoprene is only one part of the case: both the front and back have a stiffer, vinyl-like material stitched to them, which offers a bit more protection than neoprene.
The Neoprene Case is a snap to use (so to speak). Slide the nano in from the bottom, and then secure the bottom’s Velcro flap; the nano fits snugly in place. There’s a small cutout at the top of the case for accessing the iPod’s hold switch, and the headphone jack is left exposed, but everything else is protected. Both the iPod’s screen and its Click Wheel are protected behind clear, flexible-plastic windows. The window over the Click Wheel can make it somewhat difficult to scroll or adjust volume, since it doesn’t always sit flush enough for the touch sensor to work correctly, but most of the time it’s fine. The Velcro flap at the bottom covers the dock connector, but if you flip that flap open, you can easily connect a dock-connector cable. The hold switch, though accessible, is sometimes difficult to use through the small opening.
The back of the case has a sturdy belt clip permanently attached to it. Though it adds some bulk to the case, the tradeoff is that you’re unlikely to have the case fall off while jogging, for example. However, clip isn’t adjustable, and it orients the nano upside down, which can help in reading the display, but may annoy some users who prefer to have it the other way around.
Overall, the Incase Neoprene sleeve is a solid entry in its category. Of the issues I mentioned above, the Click Wheel window is probably the most annoying, but it’s not enough to prevent me from recommending the case. And with its included belt clip, the Neoprene Sleeve is a good choice for those looking for a case that will keep up with their workout routines. –Dan Moren