Review: XtremeMac SportWrap for iPod nano
Pros: Good-looking neoprene, rubber and Velcro armband solution, combining a case that’s good enough to carry alone with both arm and wrist band options. Full iPod nano protection inside the case, while providing screen and control access. A very strong option for athletic use on the go.
Cons: No belt clip - belt loops only - and not suited for Dock Connector use in a car or home without removing nano from case.
At some point, all of the black neoprene iPod nano armbands begin to blur into one another, so it takes something special to make one stand out from the rest. While XtremeMac’s new SportWrap for iPod nano ($30) isn’t perfect, comprehensive protection, great styling, and two different included bands make it one of the best nano armband designs we’ve seen.
The SportWrap package starts with a black neoprene case that wisely minimizes the quantity of neoprene visible from the front: like Incase, XtremeMac has separate clear plastic cut-outs for the nano’s screen and Click Wheel, with a stamped piece of hard rubber surrounding them. It then surrounds the rest of the nano - and we mean all of it - with a thin but protective neoprene shell. A tiny hole on the bottom for the headphone port is the only exposed portion of nano - bravo, XtremeMac - and though it’s small, we used it without a problem with our oversized headphones, running without dislodging the plug.
Two bands in the package are made to attach SportWrap to your bicep, forearm, or wristband - the larger one’s clearly for the bicep, and the smaller for for your wrist, and you can choose which you prefer to attach to your forearm. Women will likely find the smaller one fine for the forearm, men more likely the larger one. By offering the wristband, XtremeMac has done what Marware didn’t do with its competing SportSuit Convertible, and instead saved for a separate product, SportSuit Runabout. SportWrap has both options in the same package, and we found both to be very comfortable wherever we used them.
One of the only two limitations of SportWrap worth pointing out is its lack of a belt clip. This doesn’t bother us at all, given our preference for pocketing iPods, but be aware that if you want to wear this on a belt, you’ll need to make due with a hard rubber belt loop or neoprene and Velcro backup on the case’s rear. We think it’s worth it - unlike some competitors, this case is good enough to carry around independent of the armband.
The other issue is a bit more serious. SportWrap’s lack of a hole on the bottom for the Dock Connector port is something we think is great for an iPod nano armband, but not so good if you’re going to use this case in your car or home - at least, if you plan to connect a Dock Connector plug to your nano for charging and/or audio. Of course, the headphone port hole works fine, but you’ll need to remove nano entirely to charge, which may put some people off. Ideally, XtremeMac’s solution would have been closer to Marware’s.
Overall, this is a great-looking, great-feeling, and reasonably priced case and armband solution. Rather than just repeat its past design decisions to come up with a larger, simpler iPod nano armband, XtremeMac really re-thought every dimension of its offering, and came up with something more versatile, visually interesting, and equally protective. It’s unquestionably one of our top picks for nano-carrying athletes.