OtterBox recently split the company’s iPod case lineup into two lines, Armor and Defender. The Armor models extend the existing line of truly waterproof (to a 3-foot depth) iPod cases, and, in fact, the iPod Nano 3rd Gen Armor Case (; $40) is essentially an updated version of the OtterBox for iPod nano (2nd Generation). You insert your nano into the case by opening the lid and sliding the iPod in until its headphone jack connects firmly to the 1/8″, stationary headphone plug inside; an external, pass-through headphone jack on the bottom of the case lets you plug in your headphones. A gasket forms a watertight seal when you close the case, keeping out water, dirt, and other elemental baddies. Rubber bumpers inside the case provide excellent shock protection for your iPod, and the plastic case itself is virtually crushproof.
When your iPod nano is in the Armor case, the Hold switch is inaccessible (as is the dock-connector port, of course). However, a thick membrane over the iPod’s Click Wheel lets you control playback and volume. For the most part, it’s easy to use the Click Wheel through this membrane, although the Click Wheel opening is fairly small; those with large thumbs may find that the thick edges of the opening make it difficult to scroll consistently. And the Armor’s protection comes at a price: at 4.4 by 2.8 by 0.6 inches, an Armor-encased 3G iPod nano is considerably bulkier than the iPod alone.
The back of the case features a removable belt clip that also functions as a place to wrap excess headphone cable. Also included is a detachable fabric lanyard. An optional armband ($15) can be used in place of the Armor’s belt-clip.
The Armor is an excellent case for using your nano in wet, dusty, or dirty environments, as well as for taking it places where it’s likely to get dropped, tossed, or stepped on.–Dan Frakes