When you’re serious about protecting your iPod from bumps and scratches, you want to turn to a serious case, like one with the word “armor” in its name. While Logic3’s Crystal Armour for the first-generation (1G) iPod nano is a pretty tough customer, a handful of flaws means that it won’t necessarily hold up to everything you dish out.
Made from transparent polycarbonate, the Crystal Armour is a hinged hard case. To open it, you slide the small gray latch at the bottom and then flip up the front half of the case. A pair of rubber bumpers attached to the inside of the case cushion the nano, while a rubber O-ring confers some degree of water resistance (the case is not submersible, though). The only opening is a small hole for your headphone plug and, in a thoughtful addition, Logic3 bundles a short extension cable for third-party headphones whose plugs might be too big for the opening. There’s also an attached lanyard.
The best feature of the case is a flexible rubber cover for the nano’s Click Wheel. It’s attached to the case, so there’s no chance of it popping out and getting lost, and it contributes to the case’s water resistance. While the various controls are marked on the rubber, the only tactile marking is a small raised ring around the center button. The Click Wheel’s controls are very fluid and useable through the membrane, and the cover keeps the Click Wheel well-protected.
One downside to a case that’s as secure as this one is the lack of accessibility. Because the latch is at the bottom, there’s no way to access the nano’s dock-connector port without removing the nano from the case (which I found to be a little tricky; it doesn’t come out quite as easily as it goes in). And since the hinge is at the top of the case, there’s also no way to activate the nano’s hold switch without taking the nano out of the case, which is a little annoying if you accidentally bump the controls when it’s in your pocket.
Though the case itself is pretty robust, I had a couple concerns about parts of it. The latch that secures the case, for example, seemed a little too willing to slide open or closed of its own accord when I squeezed the two halves of the case. Granted, in those cases, the hinge won’t usually flip open, but it would be easy for the latch to slide open without you knowing it. The lanyard is also a bit suspect: a firm pull on the unit not only separated its plastic fastener, but pulled one end free of the fastener. I was able to reattach it, but I would certainly not recommend relying heavily on the lanyard.
These flaws do cause some question about the safety of the Crystal Armour. It’s not a bad case, but the shortcomings do bear note if you’re planning on using the case for extremely rugged activities. There are better similar offerings out there, although none for as low a price. –Dan Moren