Review: Apple iPod nano Armband (for iPod nano (video))
Apple's iPods are always hits, but its self-developed accessories are sometimes misses. Take, for example, the iPod nano Armband it released along with the second-generation iPod nano (iLounge rating: C+); sure, it looked nice, but it didn't offer much protection for the nano, and since Apple tried to make it compatible with both first-generation and thinner second-generation nanos, it didn't hold newer models as snugly as it could.
Thankfully, Apple went back to the drawing board for the third-generation version of the armband, which not coincidentally is designed to hold the third-generation, video-capable iPod nano. It carries the same name and the same $29 price, but this time, it’s actually substantially protective. And it manages this while doing an even better job of showing off the nano inside.
As with the second-generation Armband, the new one comes in gray and uses a perforated soft fabric design. Holes in the baked neoprene-like fabric enable the armband to vent rather than trap in heat and moisture generated while you’re running or working out, while a thin metal O-ring and transparent Velcro tabs for armband adjustment in no way detract from the design’s neutral but good looks. The band is thin and comfortable, rather than heavy, and adjusts for small and very large bicep sizes without a problem.
In past years, Apple flubbed one part of the design: the nano holder. We never knew why the company would expose so much of the nano to sweat and the possibility of scrapes, but it did, repeatedly. Not so this time. Like most of the third-party companies that have produced iPod armbands, Apple now covers the nano’s entire back and sides with fabric, and its face with a combination of fabric and two joined-together types of soft plastic: the screen has a clear plastic protector, while the Click Wheel has a translucent matte-finished covering. Consequently, you can easily see what’s on the nano’s screen and pretty easily—with diminished, iPod classic-like sensitivity on a matte rather than a slippery surface—access the Click Wheel. While the width of the new nano isn’t quite as ideal for arm-mounting as its two predecessors, Apple has done a good job here of making it as comfortable as possible.
Then there’s the Armband’s new bottom. By default, a Velcro tab on the bottom and back holds the third-generation nano in place, providing access to the headphone port and Hold switch while covering the Dock Connector. A second position for the Velcro tab lets you attach the Nike + iPod Sport Kit to the Dock Connector port, while the rest of the armband’s body holds the nano in place. Regardless of the position, the nano never feels like it’s in any danger of falling out, regardless of whether the nano is worn upside down (probably the “correct” position), or rightside up with its bottom facing the ground.
The only major issue some users will have with the new Armband is that, in part because of the materials and in part because of the bottom hole, it’s not waterproof or even more than modestly splash-resistant—a feature that third-party developers often include in their armbands in order to satisfy those who jog in the rain, sweat a lot, or otherwise expose their nanos to the elements. If that sort of protection is something you need, hold off. Otherwise, there’s no need to wait around: for the first time in years, Apple’s iPod nano Armband is as near-universally appealing as the device it’s designed to hold.