This year, I was a recipient of a Christmas gift of an iPod nano. After a bit of use, I can honestly say the nano is a wonderful little music player, perfect for listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks walking, driving and shoveling snow.
However, the iPod nano does have its problems, most notably, the tendency for the surface to scratch and potentially serious screen damage, even under even gentle use. Below are several items I've tried with the nano to help protect it while in use.
Power Support: iPod nano Crystal Film Cover Set
The first thing I did was to purchase a $15 iPod nano Crystal Film Cover Set from Power Support. This thin, clear plastic film kit covers the front, click wheel and back designed to protect these surfaces from scratches.
It takes a little patience to apply the films, but once in place they're hardly visible and have a nice gloss to match the original iPod nano surface. Because they use static cling they are easy to reposition.
I found that the static cling of the surface grabbed lint and debris, so I removed these tidbits using Scotch tape on the sticky side of the film. This film set is a must-have for any iPod nano owner concerned about scratches. I immediately felt the nano was safer once these films were applied.
I suggest buying this film as a minimum, even if you plan to use a heavier case around the nano. In my brief research on nano scratches, many owners reported scratches even from seemingly soft cases.
Brando WorkShop Aluminum Case
Brando WorkShop Aluminum Case, which has quickly become my favorite, wraps a thin shell of aircraft grade aluminum around the iPod nano, The $28 case has openings for the screen, sync connector, earphones, lock switch and click wheel.
The case hinges open on the right, while the left side features a snap closure. The back features a lanyard neck-strap attachment point (and strap). The opening for the screen is covered with a thin layer of plastic, to protect against scratches. My case has a metallic black, pebbly surface, from the electrostatic paint process. The case is available in either black or silver. Brando, give us a white version too! :-)
The interior is covered with a soft, neoprene foam, to reduce scratches. The nano fits snugly, which at first seemed freaky, but didn't create scratches on the nano. Now I like the tight fit, as I know it won't pop out easily.
Overall, I love this case. It has a solid feel, and the minimal thickness it adds to the nano. After all, the attraction of the iPod nano is the small size, so the thinnest, strongest case possible is best. I feel very confident carrying the nano in my jeans pocket while using this very sturdy case.
Crystal Jacket for iPod nano
My second favorite nano case is the $20 Crystal Jacket for iPod nano, because it too provides a hard layer of protection against scratches and torquing of the nano's body. The construction is very much like a plastic CD case, with two pieces hinged on top, and two locking mechanisms on the sides.
The case has openings for the click wheel, hold switch, sync port and headphone jack, and a slot on the back to accommodate a armband or thin belt. There is a slightly thinner layer of plastic covering the screen, to protect it from damage and scratches. The nano slips inside easily, then the cover closes around it, and is secured using the locking mechanism on the right and left sides of the case.
Now, this case is actually designed to be worn around the neck with an included white rope inserted through the hinge of the case on top. However, I will most likely never use this case round my neck, so I removed the rope, but it is easy enough to re-insert.
Overall this case is good — it seems quite protective. However, it is bit bulkier than the aluminum case. The locking sliders on either side add a little girth and the slightly raised the belt/armband strap on the back means the case cannot sit flush on a flat surface. I'd actually prefer the Crystal Jacket from Power Support, which has a similar yet sleeker design than the jacket from Brando. Still this is not a bad case.
iPod nano Silicone Case
For a thin case that provides protection and a sticky surface to keep the nano from sliding, I like the $17 Brando iPod nano Silicone Case. This case slides on like a boot and features openings for the screen, hold button, sync slot and headphone jack.
The back of the case features two slots for carrying a nano on a strap or belt. On the right and left sides of the case are two lanyard neck strap mounting points, if you prefer to carry the nano round your neck. It's also available in 9 colors: black, purple, blue, white and more.
The silicone case is slightly difficult to put on the nano, as it takes some sliding and working to move it up the glossy nano surface. Every time I take it on and off I fear I'll rip the case, but I never do. It's a tough little case! I do like that the click wheel is covered up, protecting it from scratches, yet being thin enough to maintain the tactile feel.
Overall, I like this case, but I feel much more comfortable with the aluminum and clear hard cases, because I often keep the nano in a pants or jacket pocket. I think this case would be great if you leave your nano on a car dash or other slippery surface, where you need a little cling. It also adds a nice soft touch to the nano, if that's important.
The Brando iPod Armband is a optional $10 add on the the Silicon case, allowing joggers, walkers to strap their iPod nano on their arms. It's a pretty straightforward addition, if you need this kind of thing.
doPi Showcase for iPod nano
The $25 doPi Showcase fashion case is not quite my style, but it seems very functional, and for those who like a neck-strap approach, it'd be useful for that purpose.
It features a very soft leather material, which wraps around the nano, secured with velcro on the back, with holes for the click wheel, screen, hold switch and headphone jack. However, the sync port is covered by the neck strap unless it's unwrapped. It comes in white/orange and black/ornage.
Overall, the doPi is a functional case for nano neck-wearers, but for me it's not quite protective enough for placing the nano in my jacket or pants pocket.
I hope these mini reviews are helpful for those seeking a case to protect an iPod nano. This is only a small selection of protective case choices out there, so have a look around and do your research to find just the one for your needs.
A special thank you to Brando of Brando Workshop was kind enough to send along several cases for review in use with the iPod nano.