If you’ve ever thought to yourself: gee, the abundance of silicone skins available for the iPod is great and all, but what I really need is a silicone skin for my silicone skin, then boy-oh-boy is the iSkin Duo for you, my friend. What at first sounds like a rather wacky concept is in reality a very nifty case that suggests two cases just may be better than one.
The Duo fits the first-generation iPod nano and, as its name implies, comprises two separate silicone skins. This may seem a little weird at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that iSkin has taken pains with the design. The two skins fit together perfectly and installation is a breeze. Simply insert the nano in through the opening for the screen, then place the included hard-plastic screen protector in between the two silicone layers. There’s also a flimsier Click Wheel protector that slides in between the two layers, though the inner skin already covers the controls, so this protector isn’t really necessary. The Click Wheel protector features a bump over the center button, but there are no markings to indicate the other four buttons, so you might have a little trouble controlling your iPod by feel if it gets turned around in your pocket. There’s an opening for your nano’s hold switch at the top, as well as openings at the bottom of the case for accessing the iPod’s dock-connector port and headphone jack; both of these openings are covered with silicone flaps to prevent dust from getting in. On the back of the case is a removable, swiveling belt clip.
In terms of protection, the iSkin Duo comes up aces. The double layer of silicone means that the nano can handle most drops and falls with aplomb, and the screen and Click Wheel protection keep those delicate elements safe and secure, as well. On the accessibility front, the openings for the dock-connector port and the headphone jack accommodate both Apple’s standard accessories as well as third-party add-ons easily, and the flaps keep the ports covered when not in use. (Although, unlike some of iSkin’s newer cases, the Duo for first-generation nano doesn’t include a Universal dock insert compatible with the case, so you won’t be able to insert a Duo-clan nano into a dock cradle designed to fit a bare nano.)
Aside from my minor complaint about the Click Wheel protector making finding controls a little tricky (unavoidable, given its construction), my only other gripe is that the plastic belt clip feels a bit flimsy. The double-layer silicone construction does add a bit of bulk to the svelte nano, but that’s just a tradeoff of the resilient construction. Indeed, these criticisms are very small when compared against everything the iSkin Duo does offer, which is an extremely accessible, protective case, that’s tough to beat — literally and figuratively.