Review: Contour Design iSee nano V3
Over the past two weeks, we've been flooded with clear hard plastic iPod cases -- eight for the third-generation iPod nano alone. Highly similar from product to product, we're covering all eight in comparative reviews today, pointing out their few differences as appropriate. In the order we're covering them in, there's DLO's Shell ($20), Griffin's iClear ($20), Tunewear's Tuneshell ($20), DLO's HybridShell and MetalShell ($20 each), Speck's SeeThru ($25), Gecko Gear's Ice Case ($25), and Contour Design's iSee nano V3 ($25).
DLO’s Shell is this comparative review’s starting point because it is the most basic, and typical, of all of the designs here. It consists solely of two pieces of clear hard plastic—one for the third-generation nano’s face, and one for its sides and back. They snap together with four clips, two each on the left and right sides, and like all of the other cases here, the completed Shell covers all of the nano except for its Click Wheel and bottom, which provides full access to the nano’s Hold switch, Dock Connector, and headphone port. The case is fully compatible with Universal Dock-equipped iPod accessories, as well as oversized headphone plugs, but does not work with other Dock Connecting accessories that have larger plugs than Apple’s own USB cables.
Contour Design’s iSee nano V3 sells for a $5 premium over DLO’s Shell and several of the other cases reviewed here, but is the most unique design of the bunch. It is the only case in the collection that offers coverage of every bit of the third-generation nano’s body, combining its front and rear shells with frosted rubber Click Wheel and bottom port covers. While the case is a hint taller and wider than its competitors, it’s not noticeably thicker.
It also comes with two different rear shells: one for use without a belt clip, and one with a screw-off white plastic piece that reveals holes for an included large white plastic clip. The clip can be attached in any of four directions, and detached as you prefer; the standard shell has no white piece on the back, or holes in the back for the clip.
Because of its bottom rubber port cover, and the design of its hard plastic bottom, iSee nano V3 is the only case of this bunch that doesn’t work properly in Universal iPod Docks, and like Gecko’s Ice Case, it doesn’t play well with Dock Connector accessories that are thicker than Apple’s iPod cables. There were also some small issues with the rubber: the Click Wheel cover we received was blemished as shown in the photos, and though the Dock Connector and headphone port covers worked, they were a little loose on the left-hand side. A subsequent sample sent by Contour fixed the Click Wheel cover, but the port cover issue remained.
Our overall feelings about this group of clear plastic iPod nano cases were generally positive—these are all good cases—but there were no superstars in the collection: small accessory compatibility issues took away from what were otherwise the two best offerings in the group, Gecko’s Ice Case and Contour’s iSee nano V3, while the other cases looked good and worked well, but didn’t provide as much protection. Griffin’s iClear and Tunewear’s Tuneshell provide the most accessory compatibility of the group, but iClear isn’t as rough around the edges, while iSee nano V3 does the best on protection, and Ice Case the best on pack-ins; the one you’ll prefer will depend more on the features and pricing you prefer than their looks. DLO’s offerings vary the most in aesthetics for the same price, but none is a major standout from other shell-like cases we’ve been testing.