As cases go, Agent 18’s Nano EcoShield cover, for the third-generation (3G) iPod nano, is fairly simple. Its two plastic pieces–front and back–snap together to provide nearly-all-over protection for your nano; only the Click Wheel and bottom edge remain exposed, the latter to provide access to the nano’s hold switch, dock-connector port, and headphone jack. The back and sides are black, with a clear window showing most of the front of the iPod. A small notch on the upper-right corner of the case lets you remove the case by inserting a thin coin or screwdriver and then prying the two sections apart.
Simple design aside, two things make the EcoShield unique. The first is that the black sections of the case are made from post-consumer plastic–an admirable approach given the millions of iPod cases made each year. (Similarly, the EcoShield’s packaging is made entirely from recycled materials.) The second is that the case fits a 3G iPod like a glove, adding very little bulk and with no gaps or rattling.
On the other hand, there are also two minor shortcomings. First, although the case fits perfectly, its easy-on-and-off design means that if you drop an EcoShield-encased nano from a decent height onto a hard surface–for example, a concrete sidewalk–there’s a chance the case will open and your iPod will fall out. (I say “a chance” because I tested this scenario a few times and most of the time the case remained firmly in place.) Second, unlike the previous Agent 18 cases we’ve tested, the EcoShield doesn’t include a custom insert for Apple’s Universal dock design that would let you put your nano in a dock cradle without removing the EcoShield. Although because the bottom edge of your nano sits flush with the bottom of the case, you can place an EcoShield-encased 3G nano in most dock cradles as long as you first remove any inserts for other iPods.
Despite these minor issues, after using the EcoShield for a few weeks, it’s become one of my favorite 3G nano cases thanks to a sturdy design and slim profile.–Dan Frakes