Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Compatible: iPod nano (video)
DLO VideoShell for iPod nano (3rd Generation)
When DLO released three cases called Shell, HybridShell, and MetalShell for the third-generation iPod nano late last year, we weren't excited so much as satisfied: depending on your taste for clear or opaque hard protection, the cases collectively did a good job of offering different-looking alternatives. But they didn't do anything special, feature-wise.
Now DLO has released VideoShell ($20), which for the same price offers an innovative feature originally introduced in the company’s superb iPod touch product of the same name: a slide-out video kickstand. Here, the kickstand has been redesigned to handle the iPod nano’s bottom-mounted headphone port in vertical, rather than horizontal video viewing conditions, elevating the nano enough to let you connect earphones and/or a charging cable to its bottom while video plays back on its screen. We would call the kickstand, which uses three pieces that slide out and lock together to provide stability, ingenious; it adds little thickness to the case and makes the nano much easier to enjoy watching on a flat surface.
Otherwise, VideoShell is extremely similar to the earlier Shell, which is to say that it’s made from clear hard plastic, and features full screen and body protection except for an open bottom and exposed Click Wheel. The front shell design is a little different from the prior one, and better; it locks into the sides of the rear shell and bulges out a little, rather than sitting recessed.
Accessory compatibility is above average. VideoShell’s only issues are with full-width attachments such as cableless FM transmitters, and oversized headphone plugs—our biggest headphones just barely made the connection with the nano’s port, and though stable when plugged in were subject to being knocked loose. Large bottom-mounting accessories don’t work at all, but Universal Docks do. Since few headphone plugs these days use connectors as large as our biggest test ones, we consider the headphone port issue minor; the Dock Connector access issue will depend on your personal needs.
Given its attractive design, price, and unique video stand, VideoShell is a top option if you’re looking for a clear case for your iPod nano: you give up little from the same-priced Shell and gain functionality in the process. Though we’d appreciate Click Wheel protection and a slightly different bottom opening approach, with slightly more accessory compatibility and the option of at least a partial bottom cover—the only reasons VideoShell doesn’t earn our flat A rating—what’s here is still excellent, and worthy of our high recommendation.