Griffin Technology’s iVault nano for the first- (1G) and second-generation (2G) iPod nano is a two-piece aluminum hardshell case that provides good protection from everyday drops and accidents while simultaneously allowing you access to all of your iPod’s controls.
Using the iVault is simple: it consists of two halves that join together via magnets placed at each corner. Just seat the nano in the back of the case and place the other half over it to snap the cover into place. A thin piece of clear, rigid plastic covers both the Click-Wheel opening and your nano’s screen. There are openings at the bottom for your iPod’s headphone jack and dock-connector port, and another at the top for the hold switch. Griffin also includes a small rubber “stopper” that fits in the iPod’s dock-connector port to keep out dust and dirt.
From a protection standpoint, the iVault is pretty sturdy; it’s machined out of aluminum, after all. Kudos to Griffin for covering both the screen and the Click Wheel; many case vendors neglect the latter. I was a little worried that the magnets would not hold the two halves of the case together securely, but that concern proved to be unfounded, since all but the most forceful shaking failed to dislodge the nano from the case.
On the accessibility side of things, the iPod’s Click Wheel works perfectly well through the plastic, and the hold switch is easy to get at. The case’s headphone jack is large enough for many third-party headphone plugs, and the dock-connector opening is big enough to let you sync with the iPod’s cable, though it’s not quite big enough for some third-party dock-connector accessories. On the other hand, although I like the idea of the little rubber dust cap, it’s easy to lose (I misplaced it twice within a matter of minutes while testing the case).
The case also has minor fit issues with both versions of the iPod nano; it’s a bit large for the 2G nano, which rattles around slightly, and because the dock-connector port is slightly further to the right on the 1G nano, the dust cap doesn’t easily fit flush with the case. But these are minor concerns in a case that otherwise strikes a good balance between protection and accessibility. –Dan Moren