The iPod nano is so light — and the flash memory inside so shock-resistant — that it’s perfect for those looking to work out with a soundtrack. This lack of bulk also means that the nano is well-suited to armbands. Speck Product’s Active Sport Lite is a lightweight neoprene case with an elastic armband that will fit both first- (1G) and second-generation (2G) versions of the iPod nano.
The neoprene case itself has flexible-plastic windows over the iPod’s screen and Click Wheel. You insert your iPod via the top of the case; a Velcro flap folds over the top to keep it in place. A small opening at the bottom lets you plug in your headphones. The elastic armband is thick and adjustable and secures with a rubber Velcro tab. (You can also remove the armband and use the case by itself; the loop on the back of the case that attaches to the armband can double as a belt loop.)
The Active Sport Lite is not without its share of quirks. The armband works well, but as with most elastic models, I had some difficulty getting a fit that wasn’t so loose it would slide down or so tight it hurt my arm. I also found the band less comfortable than Speck’s standard Active Sport case, which has a soft mesh lining. Since the Active Sport Lite is closed at the bottom, the dock-connector port is unavailable; those looking to run with the Nike + iPod Sports Kit should look elsewhere, such as the standard Active Sport. Finally, due to the flap at the top, the hold switch is also unavailable when your iPod is in the case.
Though the Active Sport Lite is designed to accommodate both 1G and 2G nanos, there are slight differences in the way each model fits in the case. For example, though the 1G nano is a mere 0.01″ thicker than the 2G nano, the fit for the 1G nano is noticeably snugger. The 1G and 2G nanos also have slightly different placements for their headphone jacks; the hole on the Active Sport Lite lines up better with the 1G’s headphone jack, although both are perfectly useable.
To my mind, the Active Sport Lite suffers from the traditional problem associated with trying to pack too much functionality in one case: it doesn’t do any of its jobs with particular aplomb. The Active Sport Lite is fine for those looking to consolidate their cases, but if you’re looking for a dedicated armband, the Speck’s standard Active Sport is superior at the same price point; if you’re looking for a standalone neoprene case, you have any number of better options. –Dan Moren