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Wednesday
Dec282005

iPod nano: 5 Case Mini-Reviews

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
nano-film.jpgThe 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
aluminum.jpgBrando 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. aluminum-open.jpgBrando, 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
crystal.jpgMy 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. crystal-open.jpgThe 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
silicone.jpgFor 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.

iPod Armband
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
dopi-showcase.jpgThe $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.

Conclusion
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.

Thanks Brando!
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.

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Reader Comments (9)

Thanks for the reviews. I received a Nano this Christmas and it is very cool, but it seems very fragile to me. I'm looking for a decent case for it to keep it safe.

Fred
December 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFred Beiderbecke
Fred, glad to help out. I think the key to the right case is to first determine how you will use your iPod nano and then buy a case to best fit your particular needs.

Personally, the aluminum works best for my usage, mainly because I so often carry the nano in my jeans pocket, but others may be more interested in seeing the nano's casing or need a neck-mounted option.

If you have any questions, just let me know.
December 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Great reviews - you picked some of the best out of the seemingly endless choices. Thanks.
December 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterClark
Clark, thanks for the kind words. There are so many cases out there, so I'm happy to have found several that seem useful. By the way, very nice site and reviews at your own site! :-)
December 29, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
I got one as well, and decided upon the Incase card wallet design, largely to honor the design of a small, simple thing to tuck into one's pocket. No real issues so far, other than imperfect alignment of the windows through the leather (minor with mine, and leather does stretch with pressure and time). I like the fact that it makes this little device large enough not to casually toss into the laundry in my shirt pocket!

Has anyone gotten the Monster cassette adapter? I picked one up, and am amazed at the huge amount of noise the mechanism makes. Is there a way to quiet this thing?

Happy New Year.-met.
December 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMetropolitan
agent18 makes a very nice clear case for the Nano. One thing I like about it, as opposed to the clear case I had for another iPod, is that the agent18 is lightly frosted. You can clearly see the bright white goodness of the iPod but fingerprints and scratches don't appear on the case.
January 1, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdwb
Metropolitan: thanks for the comment! As for the Monster Casette thing � I have an old CD adapter from my CD player and that noice is just an effect of the casette heads rolling over the adapter... unfortunately I thing is will be the case with any casette adapter. I guess I've grown used to the sound in the car.

dwb: thanks for the tip on the agent18 case. I may drop them a line to have a review, as I really think a clear case might be nice. I do like the frosted idea as well.
January 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
Does the Brando WorkShop Aluminum Case have a clear screen protector? Or is it just a cut out?
February 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSpyro
Spyro, it does have a thin piece of plexiglass over the hole for the screen.
February 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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