Review: Incase Sports Armband for iPod nano
Having previously looked at the first collection of cases for the third-generation iPod nano (with video), today we're covering 11 additional options with brief capsule reviews. Five new cases - four leather, one metal - are from a company called PDair, one is leather from Noreve, one is neoprene from Marware, and four alternate between leather, neoprene, and rubber from Incase. Not surprisingly, there are a number of similarities between certain groups of these cases, so we're bundlng the like cases together for comparison, and looking at the other ones individually.
Having previously reviewed five different armbands for the third-generation iPod nano, we’ve noted that it would be hard to improve on either Apple’s own iPod nano Armband or Marware’s Sportsuit Convertible for iPod nano, both A- rated products. Incase’s new Sports Armband for iPod nano ($30) is yet another option, sold at roughly the same price, though with a bit less to offer than the best of its competitors.
The Sports Armband is a neoprene and plastic enclosure with a non-detachable Velcro and neoprene armband that resizes to fit securely on your bicep. It covers the nano’s full face with clear plastic, holding its body in a neoprene pocket with holes for the nano’s entire top, plus its bottom Hold switch and headphone port. Reflective plastic rings the nano for added nighttime safety; the same plastic forms a double-back insertion ring on the front for the armband.
Essentially, Sports Armband competes in utility and features with Marware’s less expensive Sportsuit Runabout, which uses slight variations on the same body materials and concepts. Runabout can be mounted on your wrist, or extended with an included second band to fit on your bicep; Sports Armband is primarily intended for the bicep, but can be resized to fit on an average or above average-sized man’s wrist, not a women’s. Both cases have three tiny slits for nano insertion and bottom access, providing complete screen and Click Wheel access through a front screen. Similarly, both have slightly misaligned bottom holes, but not enough to prevent you from accessing the nano’s port and Hold switch.
The major differences are these: Sports Armband sells at a $10 premium and comes in black or pink, while Sportsuit Runabout sells for $10 less and comes in black or blue. To our eyes, Incase’s design looks a little better than Marware’s, but not by much, and the Sports Armband is a bit builkier, too. It’s more likely that the pink or blue color options will make you prefer one over the other than the other, less critical styling differences.
Neither case is designed for use with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, but of these two, only Incase’s accommodates it, letting you flip nano upside down, while Marware offers SportSuit Relay as a Sport Kit-ready, otherwise identical alternative. Both cases are the same relatively short 12” length when Marware’s extender is installed, and offer the same level of comfort thanks to their similar materials.
Overall, Sports Armband suffers from limitations common to several of Incase’s other recent designs: it does a bit less than its competitors, yet sells at the higher end of the price range. These factors are offset once again by attractive design and the company’s unique pink color option, which only DLO offers in its similarly priced, more versatile Action Jacket. Consider the Sports Armband a worthwhile option if elegant design means more to you than dollars or features, both of which lean in favor of other alternatives.