Review: Griffin Technology Bookcase for nano Hinged Protective Case
Pros: A novel hinged case for the iPod nano, featuring headphone port relocation, interchangeable colored screen protectors, and very substantial nano body protection. Smart, innovative design at a reasonable price.
Cons: No Click Wheel protection. Only available in one color.
Released more than six months after first being shown, Griffin Technology’s Bookcase for iPod nano ($30) is an innovative little case design that offers three interesting features: nano headphone port relocation, interchangeable screen protectors, and a substantial degree of protection. While not perfect, it stands out from the pack at a time when most iPod cases - including most of Griffin’s recently released leather lineup - have become samey.
The front of each Bookcase uses a glossy black finish, while its rear is a matte but otherwise matching black shell; both parts are made from hard plastic that’s just thick enough to make the nano feel well shielded, rather than overly bulky. Expect scuffs and scratches on the front, but otherwise the build quality is solid. Griffin’s unique front design allows the user to pop out the fully clear hard plastic screen protector and replace it with a smoky black one, largely obscuring the nano’s screen for “privacy,” as the company puts it. Though we aren’t ourselves in need of iPod screen blocking, it’s nice that Griffin - unlike iSkin’s recent eVo3 Limited Special Edition - included both types of screen protectors so that those who want the darker or clear screen covers can have them without making an additional purchase.
Griffin also made an assumption with Bookcase that clearly increased the difficulty of its manufacture beyond that of most iPod nano cases: the company guessed way back in January that people wouldn’t like the nano’s upside-down headphone port, and designed Bookcase to fix that problem. Consequently, when the case opens up on its left-side hinge, you mount the nano on a headphone plug inside, then close the case and plug your headphones into the top of the left hinge. While not for everyone - some people enjoy wearing their nanos upside down with lanyards - this feature is a cool differentiator for Bookcase, and works well.
If there’s anything wrong with this design, it’s a single, simple omission: Click Wheel protection. There’s nothing, not even a sticker, between your iPod’s controls and whatever may be inside your pocket. While far easier from a control standpoint than having a full face protector that requires the case to be opened for Click Wheel access, other companies have solved this problem with a sticker that only costs a few cents to include. The lack of protection here is a shame given the fact that the case otherwise covers every millimeter of your nano - Hold switch and Dock Connector port included - so well. You can even access the Hold switch by flipping the case open, which is just the way we like to see these sorts of cases handle protection of that particular element.
Overall, Bookcase is a novel and highly recommendable iPod case - at $30, it’s a fair value by iPod nano case standards, and one of only two cases we’ve seen with headphone port relocation as a feature. If the current-style nano’s still around a few months from now, we hope to see even more colors available - if not, we hope that Griffin continues to embrace smart designs like this one rather than falling into the “me too” trap.