C6 Manufacturing Carbon Fiber Nano Case
Pros: A simple semi-enclosure consisting of two thin plates of carbon fiber composite material, screwed together around the iPod nano with eight Allen screws and four aluminum posts. A strong detachable aluminum belt clip is included.
Cons: The case leaves exposed a large amount of the iPod’s body, including its sides, top, bottom, and a portion of its back. It is not trivial to install and remove the iPod from the case, and the case is pricey given its simplicity.
When our readers first saw C6 Manufacturing’s Nano Case made from “aircraft grade” carbon-fiber, the reactions were a diverse contrast between excitement regarding the case’s unique material and disappointment due to its high price, basic design, and lack of adequate protection. We too initially felt the same gamut of reactions when we received our sample, but eventually gravitated toward the latter ones. Here’s why.
The C6 Manufacturing Nano Case is clearly unique given its use of a variant of carbon fiber composite material, which is commonly used in aerospace and high-performance sport and automotive applications. Two thin plates of carbon fiber material mount on the iPod nano via eight Allen screws and four aluminum posts, essentially pinning the nano between them. The carbon fiber plates look impressive, with the weaves in the fiber creating a certain holographic checkerboard effect.
We deduct two points from the case’s Build Quality score due to the hard, sharp edges on the case’s carbon fiber plates as well as its aluminum belt clip. While this is somewhat to be expected given the material’s thinness, we suspect something could have been done to smooth out the edges a bit - as is, they feels unfinished and harsh to the touch.
In every way that our points system accounts for, the Nano Case is perfectly easy to use. With the case installed, there is full-time access to the Hold switch, Click Wheel, Dock Connector, screen, and headphone port.
However, there is a considerable “Ease of Use” issue that we often take for granted, and though we have not included it as a factor in our Ease of Use ratings, it may matter to some users: removability. It takes considerably more effort to remove the iPod nano from C6’s Nano Case than most cases we’ve tested. To do so, at least two (preferably three) of the miniature screws at the case’s corners must be removed, and they require a specifically-sized Allen wrench, which although included, is unlikely to be with you every time you’ll want it. Granted, most users will hardly ever need to remove the iPod from the case given how accessible its ports are, but if you like to use an Apple Universal Dock, for example, you had better keep that Allen wrench handy.
The Nano Case’s use of carbon fiber composite material is certainly an iPod first - and a neat one, at that - but its design philosophy seems to concentrate solely on the exotic material choice, leaving other considerations like protection and method of assembly entirely neglected and, truthfully, disappointingly pedestrian.
Beyond the single point the Nano Case earns for its unique material choice, a second point is earned for the inclusion of a fully-detachable aluminum belt clip. Like the face of the case itself, the belt clip is attached via removable Allen screws.
Upon first glance at the C6 Manufacturing Nano Case, its industrial look and exotic material choice seem to automatically inspire some degree of confidence in the case’s protection. However, under only slightly closer inspection, it becomes clear that protection was a rather low-priority design goal.
That is, the Nano Case exposes full-time all four of the iPod nano’s thin sides, including the Hold switch, Dock Connector, and headphone port, and most amazingly leaves a circular hole open in the plate of carbon fiber covering the iPod’s back - simply to showcase the Apple logo and “iPod” label. Furthermore, this happens to be precisely the location at which the belt clip terminates - leaving the potential for serious metal-on-metal contact. Thankfully a clear screen protector is included.
At $40, the Nano Case sits considerably above what we consider to be a “fair” price for a standard iPod case - especially a relatively simple, lightly-protective one - and as such, we’d ordinarily be tempted to award it a 2- or 3-point score on our Value scale. However, we recognize that the case’s exotic, exciting material choice may represent a higher than average cost to the company, and it certainly will be the entire reason some will buy the case - there’s simply no alternative yet. Recognizing this uniqueness, we award the case four value points - still not entirely acceptable to all, and far from ideal, but better than a similarly-designed but less unique case would score at this price. There’s significant room for improvement here, and we hope that C6 (or someone else) takes up the task of making a truly excellent case that’s as fully protective as the carbon fiber material would lead people to believe.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.