Sometimes it seems that every time I turn around, Marware’s got yet another case from their Sportsuit line aimed at yet another specific audience — not that that’s a bad thing. This time it’s the Sportsuit Sprinter for the second-generation iPod nano, which Marware claims to have designed for runners and “active walkers.” If you’ve been put off from exercising with your iPod because you didn’t like armbands, maybe the Sportsuit Sprinter is what you’ve been waiting for.
Like the rest of Marware’s Sportsuit line, the basic part of the Sprinter is the black neoprene Sportsuit. You slip your nano in from the bottom and adjust a neoprene flap to secure the nano, leaving the headphone jack accessible through a small hole. The front controls and screen are accessible through a clear, flexible window that spans most of the length of the case. A small outline on the top shows you where the hold switch is. On the back of the case is a base for Marware’s Multidapt system, which allows you to attach either the included belt clip or hand strap, or one of a number of optional accessories, such as a swivel clip, car mount, bike holder, or lanyard. Your nano’s dock-connector port isn’t accessible while the neoprene flap at the bottom is closed, but you can open that flap and connect Apple’s dock-connector cable — or even dock the iPod without removing it from the case completely.
The hand strap is padded, adjustable, and pretty comfortable. My hands are on the larger side, so I found that the padded part didn’t quite reach all the way around, which mean the bottom of my hand rubbed against the unpadded strap. Still, for those who don’t like wearing armbands, the Sprinter’s hand strap was perfectly functional; it’s not going to fly off your hand, and you don’t have to clutch onto your iPod for dear life.
My major gripe with the Sprinter, like the other Sportsuits, is that it can be annoying to use the nano’s low-profile hold switch through the case’s neoprene. Sometimes it works, but at other times you can fiddle with the switch for a minute without getting it to go on or off. And although you can rig the Sprinter to accept the Nike+iPod Sports Kit transceiver by opening the neoprene flap at the bottom of the case, the case clearly wasn’t designed for that; you’ll want to check out the company’s Sportsuit Relay instead.
Overall, the Sprinter will protect your nano well and the hand strap is a nice alternative to armbands. The difficulty with the hold switch remains my biggest complaint with the Sportsuit line, and I wish Marware would find a different way of dealing with it, but other than that the Sportsuit line is filled with quality cases, and the Sprinter is no exception.–Dan Moren