It’s rare to find a case that’s functional, protective, attractive, and inexpensive, but SwitchEasy’s Biscuits for the third-generation (3G) iPod nano are all that and more.
Each Biscuit — available in white, red, blue, pink, or green with a clear screen window; or black with a semi-transparent smoke window — consists of two pieces of smooth, glossy, Lexan polycarbonate plastic, front and back; you place your 3G nano in the front section and then the back section slides into place to protect nearly the entire nano. The only exposed sections are the nano’s Click Wheel and its bottom edge. However, SwitchEasy includes a static-adhesive Click Wheel protector (more easily applied before putting the nano in the case) and a plastic dock-connector-port cover. The latter attaches directly to the dock-connector port; once it’s on, it stays on — even if you drop the iPod — and leaves only small openings on the bottom of the iPod for accessing the headphone jack and hold switch. Yet despite this all-over protection, each Biscuit adds little bulk to the size of your nano.
The Biscuit would rate highly as a case on its own, but SwitchEasy includes a number of useful and thoughtful accessories. There’s a clear, static-adhesive guard for your nano’s backside that protects the shiny metal from being scratched by the case itself. You get an dock insert that lets you use a Biscuit-encased nano with accessories (speakers, docks, etc.) that use Apple’s Universal dock design. Because your nano’s headphone jack is slightly recessed when the nano is in the case, a 3-inch adapter — black for the black case, white for the others — is included that plugs into the headphone jack and lets you use any third-party headphones, even if they have a large plug. A thick, sturdy lanyard is included that attaches to two small holes in the back of the Biscuit (again, easier to do before putting your nano in the case). Finally, there’s a small microfiber cloth for cleaning your nano before applying the scratch guard and putting the player in the case.
I also appreciated the little touches SwitchEasy added to the case. For example, the area of the case just to the left and right of the nano’s Click Wheel are slightly bezeled to make using the Click Wheel more comfortable. Similarly, because the Click Wheel on the 3G nano is so close to the bottom of the nano, the included Universal-dock insert includes a cutout to provide easier access to the Click Wheel while in a dock cradle. Finally, the case’s smooth, curved edges and corners make it comfortable to hold.
I have only a few minor complaints about the Biscuit. The first is that once you’ve put a Biscuit on your nano, the case can be difficult to remove. (Which means it’s good that SwitchEasy has included so many accessories that let you use the player without removing it from the case.) Second, although the included dock insert lets you use a Biscuit-encased nano with many Universal-dock accessories, some accessories that connect directly to the dock-connector port — for example, FM transmitters and microphones — don’t fit well, since the nano’s dock-connector port isn’t completely flush with the bottom of the case. Third, the included Click Wheel protector is, oddly, cloudy rather than clear and glossy. Finally, it’s worth noting that the Black Biscuit’s “peek-a-boo” (SwitchEasy’s name) screen, which looks black until your iPod is turned on, dims the screen slightly. The effect, which reminded me of looking through a pair of sunglasses, does affect the brightness and color of the screen, but not enough that I didn’t still enjoy watching video on the screen.
Still, even with these minor issues, the Biscuit is one of the most functional and attractive iPod cases I’ve used. The fact that it’s priced at only $20 means it’s also a bargain compared to the many $40 cases on the market that provide less protection and functionality.–Dan Frakes