Review: Pacific Rim Technologies nano Magnesium Shield
Pros: A solid, attractive magnesium case for the iPod nano that eliminates top, bottom, or side hinges in favor of a slide-in, internally padded design. Precise, professional curves and clear protectors for both screen and Click Wheel combine to provide full iPod face protection; a necklace and two different clips are also provided in the package, adding features absent from certain competitors.
Cons: Parts of nano’s top, back, and bottom are more open than in less expensive competing aluminum case, in part because of one-piece design decision. Paint on back near alligator clip holes flecked off after short period of clip detachment testing. Second belt clip arguably unnecessary. Click Wheel protector looks wet in center.
There’s been no shortage of metal cases for the iPod nano in recent weeks, many of them generally similar in appearance and core features. Pacific Rim Technologies’ new nano Magnesium Shield ($35) provides another option, differing from its predecessors primarily in that it does not open into two pieces: the case’s front and rear metal halves are permanently held together by rubber bumper-like sides, and padded internally with thin neoprene that tightly grips yet won’t scratch the nano. You slide the iPod in or out fairly easily through a hole in the bottom. This design enables the case to fit the nano’s curves more tightly than aluminum competitors with a hinge or two-piece body, but it also forces some compromises on protection.
First appearances are good: the nano Magnesium Case is solid, clean, and professional. Without adding much bulk to an iPod nano, it provides what initially appears to be a smooth, metal-like coat of armored protection, but also permits access to all of the nano’s controls, ports, and screen. On general looks and feel, it compares directly to Core Cases’ quality Aluminum Case for iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+) in all ways except color options. Only black and white versions of the Magnesium Case are available today; we received black for testing.
Each nano Magnesium Case set comes with a handful of components: ours included two different clips - a low-profile alligator clip, and a black plastic belt clip with detachable metal screw nub - as well as a black fabric and silver metal detachable lanyard, which looks and feels good, and most notably, a transparent plastic Click Wheel protector. Combined with the case’s magnesium rear, side, and front protection, plus a hard clear integrated screen protector, which has an average (low) level of color screen distortion, this protector guarantees coverage for almost everything save your iPod’s top and bottom. Though it’s not contoured to the separate Action button in center of the nano’s Click Wheel, and leaves a “wet spot” there, bravo to Pacific Rim for including it nonetheless. We appreciate the protection.
Because of reader concerns over iPod nano scratchability, our reviews have focused a lot on exposed areas of the nano. Pacific Rim leaves four: a rounded hole around the Hold switch, extending to nano’s back, which is used to push the nano through the fully open bottom of the case, a tiny hole on the back for the lanyard necklace, and two holes for the thin profile alligator clip on the case’s rear. We have really liked the alligator clip, which also appeared on Core Cases’ Aluminum Case and can be positioned right side up or upside down, but this is the first time the nano’s back surface has been exposed underneath them. It’s also the first time we’ve noticed a consequence to using it: after several insertions and removals of the clip, tiny flecks of the case’s black surface covering came off around the holes. As of review time, these spots are barely noticeable, but that could change over time.
The alternative, of course, is to use the black plastic second clip instead. It can rotate on the case’s back, but it is also much larger and thicker than the alligator clip. Since its screw hole in the case’s pack doesn’t expose the iPod when not in use, it doesn’t hurt to have it as an option, but some may find the inclusion of two clips a bit redundant. We’d have been just fine with a non-scratching version of the alligator clip.
How do the Magnesium Shield’s features and omissions compare with alternatives? eXopod’s machined aluminum case Naomi (iLounge rating: B+) provides greater protection at the same price, but lacks the belt clips, necklace, and simple styling of Magnesium Shield. Core Cases’ cheaper Aluminum Case protects more of nano’s back around the Hold switch, as well as its bottom corners, but lacks Click Wheel protection and the second belt clip, the former more important than the latter. True, you can use the $15 price difference between the cases to buy Power Support’s Crystal Film Cover Set (iLounge rating: B+) and add superior protection after the fact, an option we’d seriously consider. But Pacific Rim’s option offers a pretty good package without all the hassle; by metal iPod nano case standards, it’s a solidly recommendable option.