Review: Marware SportSuit Convertible 4G
Price: $39.95, $24.95
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod mini
Pros: Protective, quality neoprene 4G iPod cases in multiple colors with solid belt clips, Convertible version provides great detachable hard front shield and exercise armband.
Cons: Standard SportSuit is bulky and not especially attractive for everyday use, pricier than better options; Convertible is pricey and best-suited only for exercise purposes.
This brief review is a reprint from the iLounge Buyers’ Guide 2004 with a few additional details.
Marware makes a couple of our favorite iPod cases, and for exercise purposes, the SportSuit Convertible (now available for 3G, 4G and mini iPods) is one of them. Highly similar from iPod version to version, the exercise-friendly Convertible case comes in six colors for 4G iPods ($39.95), one of several features that elevate this product above its closest competitor, DLO’s cheaper Action Jacket ($24.99).
The base of Marware’s product is a SportSuit - a quality iPod case made largely from stitched neoprene and see-through plastic. We reviewed the SportSuit for the iPod mini, and the 4G version isn’t much different: though protective, it’s not especially stylish, and while well-made, it’s not a case we recommend on its own unless you want to dress up your iPod like a cell phone. The SportSuit comes with a sturdy metal and plastic belt clip that you can detach, but nothing else.
Marware’s distinctive SportSuit concept is the Convertible version of the product, which includes a detachable hard protective front flap that attaches with Velcro to the top of the SportSuit. You slip the iPod into the neoprene SportSuit case for everyday use, which has vinyl screen and front protection with a hole to permit you easy access to the iPod’s controls, then attach the hard flap only when you need the extra anti-scratch protection for the full front of the iPod. For exercise purposes, it’s a good idea, and it works well; you bulk the iPod up a bit without the flap, or a lot with it, and hopefully protect the iPod against both sweat and the elements when you exercise.
A velcro latch at the Convertible flap’s bottom holds everything closed, like a typical PDA case, only Marware’s implementation is harder and more water-resilient. There’s also a pouch within the flap large enough to hold headphones or keys while you’re exercising. A pop-open rubber guard protects the Dock Connector port, too.
DLO makes a highly similar product called the Action Jacket, which uses seemingly less expensive components and a simpler design. Coupled with Marware’s included SportSuit Convertible armband, which also feels better made and looks at least slightly nicer than DLO’s, the Convertible proves a very good workout option - perhaps the best currently available for people who jog in inclement weather conditions or places where full iPod face and/or anti-shock protection would be important. Additionally, unlike the standard SportSuit, the Convertible version of the SportSuit case features rear straps to hold the armband in place, plus the standard version’s detachable hard plastic belt clip, which integrates substantially better with the Convertible than DLO’s almost afterthought belt nub does with the Action Jacket.
Though we’re not fans of neoprene as an everyday case enclosure for iPods, the material stands on at least equal footing with the plastic in Teski’s Roadie and the rubber in Speck’s Mini Arm band as a compelling iPod protectant for outdoor use and high-impact work outs. We therefore recommend the SportSuit Convertible most vigorously to those who will have a real need to keep its top on - it’s a more useful product than the standard SportSuit, and a nice design for its intended purpose.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.