Review: Marware Sportsuit Convertible for iPod classic
When Apple released the iPod classic, it preserved enough of the fifth-generation iPod that many prior cases worked without modification, and two recently re-released armbands are a testament to that: Marware's Sportsuit Convertible for iPod classic ($35) is almost identical to the prior Sportsuit Convertible for iPod 5G (with video), and DLO's Action Jacket for iPod classic ($30) is similarly almost indistinguishable from its iPod 5G predecessor. Our reviews below are therefore based heavily on the earlier ones, noting differences where appropriate.
Early in the fifth-generation iPod’s life, Marware released two different Sportsuit cases: a “Basic” form with a detachable belt clip, and a more elaborate “Convertible” form with a detachable belt clip, armband, wrist strap, and front lid. More recently, the company has released iPod nano versions of Convertible, originally starting as derivatives of the 5G case, but evolving most recently into a better product: the latest nano Convertible keeps the case, armband and belt clip, but replaces a simple corded wrist strap with a newer, better handstrap, and loses the arguably unnecessary front lid.
Sportsuit Convertible for iPod classic is a half-evolved, half-devolved version of the nano case. Like the new nano Convertible, it drops the corded wriststrap previously included with the 5G case, but doesn’t replace it with anything. It also keeps the 5G’s highly optional front lid, but makes it easier to attach than before. Once again, the lid has a front pocket with space to store your earbuds when they’re not in use, and adds a semi-hard additional layer of protection (and anonymity) to the classic, which is completely covered in clear plastic and neoprene inside. A cleaning cloth, screen, and Click Wheel film are included in the package—none really necessary for this case—and black, blue, and silver versions are once again available.
As before, Convertible is made not with the outdated standard neoprene or its improved vulcanized (baked) successor, but rather with superior Orca-finished neoprene, a sleeker and more interesting material that looks better with the iPod. The case also continues to provide a tremendous amount of protection for the iPod, covering literally everything but the classic’ headphone port hole, and also using a really smart bottom flap that remains closed unless you want it open to expose the iPod’s Dock Connector port. We continue to be impressed by this design accomplishment.
Marware has done a pretty good job with Convertible’s front clear plastic protector, which still has a tendency to look slightly “wet” on the iPod’s front surface, but didn’t stick quite as much to the classic’s screen in our testing. The company has also managed to cover the Click Wheel completely with this plastic, enabling you to use it despite the new model’s diminished touch surface sensitivity. This is a real plus for Convertible over cases such as DLO’s iPod classic Action Jacket, which leave the Click Wheel hole open, allowing moisture and dust to get into the case.
Convertible’s armband and belt clip are both quite good by reference to the parts used by other companies. The armband is wide, made from soft neoprene, and 17” long—bigger and better than the ones in many Incase armbands, and Griffin’s, as just two examples. It’s easy to attach with or without the optional lid, and if you have a pen handy, easy to detach as well. The width and softness make it comfortable on your arm during workouts, though it could benefit further from using the perforated, heat- and moisture-distributing designs of recent Apple and Nike armbands. Similarly, though it doesn’t have the ratcheting, multi-directional mechanism found in some standalone iPod cases, Marware’s included spring-loaded belt clip is a thin, spring-loaded component from Krusell’s Multidapt system, which allows the case to be attached to many additional, but optional Krusell mounting accessories. Many iPod armbands don’t include a belt clip option, or have one that’s non-detachable or thicker than this one, so Marware’s generally ahead of the pack in this department.
Our only gripe with Convertible relates to its $35 asking price. While we don’t think the price is totally out of line, you’re getting less versatility in the box than the prior wrist strap-laden edition, and not saving anything in the process; the new Convertible’s extra film and cleaning cloth pack-ins, found in all Marware case packages these days, do little to improve this one. The lower priced nano version of Convertible does more, and we’d sooner see Marware do what it did for the nano: drop the unnecessary lid, include the better hand strap, and drop the price. As-is, however Convertible is a nice design with good features, and worthy of our general recommendation.