Review: Marware Sportsuit Sleeve for iPod nano (video)
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.
Of all of the cases we’ve reviewing today, the one we have the least to say about is Marware’s Sportsuit Sleeve for iPod nano ($20). Like all of the company’s previous Sportsuit Sleeve designs, which have now appeared for full-sized iPods, prior nanos, and the iPhone, the new version mixes standard and Orca-style neoprene to form an almost completely enveloping sleeve with a front pouch for earbuds, and uses a padded, soft fabric interior with a Velcro tab to hold the nano safely inside. A rear detachable belt clip is included, along with a cleaning cloth, screen and Click Wheel protectors. The only color it’s available in is black, unlike the original iPod nano version that came in both black and blue.
There is a point at which even a good case design begins to make less sense, and though SportSuit Sleeve received our general recommendation at the same price point for earlier, more expensive iPods, it is less useful for the smaller, cheaper third-generation iPod nano. On one hand, we continue to appreciate the concept behind Sportsuit Sleeve: Marware describes it as a “discreet” iPod protector—because of covers everything with the black sleeve, it’s a way to hide the fact that you’re carrying an iPod, assuming of course that you’ve replaced or stowed Apple’s conspicuous white earbuds, too. But the design has now shrunk to the point of diminishing returns: the front pocket is no longer large enough to easily hold earbuds and their cables, yet the case preserves it, most likely for cosmetic reasons.
Granted, we still like the way that Sportsuit Sleeve looks, and limited front pocket utility aside, there’s nothing else wrong with the case assuming that you’re willing to continually open it up, pull your nano out, and put it back inside every time you want to access the screen or controls. In our view, however, that particular inconvenience becomes greater whenever an iPod gains video- and game-playing abilities, and less worth paying a premium for. Marware’s other playthrough nano cases, particularly SportGrip, are more practical for the new nano, and a better value for the dollar.