Model: iSnug Nano Set
Compatible: iPod nano
Handstands iSnug Nano Set
Pros: A semi-rigid clamshell-style travel case paired with a leather inner sleeve; included cloth, film, cable ties, and lanyard are nice touches rounding out the package.
Cons: Thin top shell makes the travel case’s mesh pocket less useful than it could be; leather sleeve’s screen hole slightly misaligned, uses belt clip loops instead of clips.
Handstands’ iSnug Nano Set is, in concept, quite similar to STM’s line of Cocoon travel cases, in that it combines a fairly simple inner case with a tough, semi-rigid outer case. We generally liked STM’s Cocoon for iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+), but noted that there was room for improvement, particularly with STM’s poor quality inner case. In some areas, Handstand’s iSnug Set did better, but they’re at least partially mitigated by the fact that it’s a full 33% more expensive than STM’s offering.
The Handstands iSnug Nano Set’s outer shell is made from a semi-rigid material commonly used for camera cases and very similar in construction to STM’s Cocoon for iPod nano. The entirety of the outer shell is well-finished, and virtually free of visible manufacturing flaws. One of its two halves is fitted with a formed foam tray in which the iPod nano fits with or without the set’s included inner sleeve. The other half of the shell contains a mesh pocket intended for storing cables. This pocket is a bit thinner - and therefore less useful - than that on STM’s Cocoon; it was a tight fit to carry both a USB cable and Apple headphones in the pocket, but carrying only one was fine.
The Nano Set’s interior protection is a simple leather sleeve, into which the iPod slides from the bottom, and a separate screen protector. Though it certainly doesn’t scream “cheap” as much as STM’s included silicone sleeve, the sleeve loses the iSnug Nano Set a few points in build quality for two basic flaws: the stitching and finishing of the case’s edges appear sloppy - particularly near the case’s top - and when the iPod nano is fully inserted into the sleeve, the screen hole is misaligned by about two millimeters, chopping off about half of the iPod’s menu header. Aside from these two not-so-trivial concerns, the sleeve generally feels nice, and its inner felt lining is plenty soft enough so as to not cause scratching.
We evaluate two-piece travel cases a little bit differently from others, because travel cases are generally intended to keep your iPod totally safe in a bag or case while you’re on the road, then pulled out, opened, and put away again. So our Ease of Use rating is based on the second, inner sleeve only. Since the screen, Click Wheel, Dock Connector, Hold switch, and headphone port are all accessible here, the iSnug Set scores all points for Ease of Use. For some readers, it’s also worth mentioning that the inner sleeve’s open-bottom design allows usage with Apple’s Lanyard Headphones.
In what we’d consider a bonus in this category, Handstands has been smart about the way the iPod nano is to be positioned inside its travel case—you do have the option of leaving the zipper partially unzipped at the top of the outer case in order to use a pair of headphones while the iPod is fully protected. While there isn’t a dedicated hole for the headphone plug in the outer case as in STM’s Cocoon, we actually prefer this way of operation - it’s easier to use, and allows more complete protection when we’re not listening.
The iSnug Set includes several items of note; in addition to its inner and outer cases, which both feature non-removable belt clip loops (rather than STM’s rear belt clip), the package includes a small microfiber cloth, removable lanyard, and two strips of velcro intended to be used as cord managers. These three included pack-ins earn the iSnug Set two total points in this category.
The included lanyard, made from a material similar to flat-style shoelaces, can attach to eyelets on either the travel case or the inner sleeve, though it’s clearly more practical when used with the lighter of the two.
Graded alone, the iSnug Set’s inner sleeve would score relatively poorly on protection, exposing the iPod nano’s Click Wheel, entire bottom surface, top and bottom corners, hold switch, and - if not used with the included film - screen as well. However, when used as is clearly Handstand’s and the typical travel case buyer’s intent - as a two-piece travel solution - the iSnug Set affords complete body surface protection for the iPod inside, and with its thick foam lining, a considerable degree of impact protection, as well.
At $40, the iSnug Nano Set is more expensive than the average “standard”-class iPod nano case, but as its two-case design truly offers two viable standalone options in one package, it’s a fair compromise for those who need the extra travel-grade protection. As we mentioned in its own review, STM’s Cocoon - $10 cheaper - represents an excellent value for those who already have a respectable inner sleeve or don’t want one, but for those who are looking to fill two distinct needs at once, the iSnug Nano Set is a worthy alternative.
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.