Review: Marware Sportsuit Sleeve, Safari and Santa for iPod nano
Pros: Sleeve is one of the nicest-looking pouch-style designs we’ve seen, offered in two colors with an Orca-textured front pocket and rear detachable belt clip. Santa remains a standout holiday offering because of its Christmas stocking design, and both it and the wild patterned, furry Safari cases include nice black lanyard necklaces, carabiner clips, and belt loops. Standout designs visually, built well, with reasonable prices.
Cons: Pouch design is far less than ideal for iPod nano, requiring users to insert iPod upside down and lose access to its screen and controls unless removed. Belt clip on Sleeve is smaller than the one we prefer.
In the last week, Marware has released a huge collection of new iPod nano cases that range in material from silicone rubber to neoprene and leather. Part two of our look at these new cases focuses on three pouch-style designs - ones that don’t allow you to use the iPod’s controls through the material of the case, but offer unique looks with good build quality at low prices instead.
Marware Sportsuit Sleeve
Of the pouch-style iPod nano case designs we’ve seen, Marware’s Sportsuit Sleeve ($20) is one of the most visually interesting. Available in two colors (blue or black), the Sleeve covers your entire nano with a thin layer of neoprene, sealing mostly closed at its top with a Velcro-sealed flap. Unlike the pictures on Marware’s web site, this flap doesn’t arrive puffy on the outside - it’s matte neoprene with a soft gray inner lining. A small notch in the left side of the flap means that the nano’s headphone port is permanently exposed, but the rest of its body is sealed inside, inaccessible to the user but nicely covered.
The case’s most distinctive feature is a slightly luminiscent, “Orca-textured neoprene” pocket on its front, which can be used to hold Apple’s packed-in earbuds, and proves a sharp visual contrast with the otherwise standard neoprene body. On its rear is a detachable black Multidapt mini belt clip, a Krusell-designed part that interchanges with other Krusell clips (if you have them). This one-piece clip is smaller than the spring-loaded ones we’ve preferred Marware to use, but still sturdy and easy to attach to a pocket or belt.
Our standard issue with pouch-style designs for the iPod nano applies here: because the nano is upside down inside this case, its headphone port sticking up from the top, you need to remove the nano fully to use it, as its screen is at the bottom of the case, and its controls are the first thing to pop up, upside down, when it’s removed. Play-through designs are much smarter for the nano. But like Moshi’s nanoPouch (iLounge rating: B), we think people may be willing to suffer the inconvenience here on account of the Sleeve’s good looks. We were on the edge of B and B+ ratings here, and opted to rate it higher than nanoPouch only because we actually do prefer the look of its front pocket, and like (though don’t use) the optional rear belt clip. There’s no getting around the fact that the cases are otherwise equally inconvenient for daily use, and won’t be right for everyone.
Marware Sportsuit Santa and Safari
Every year, Marware introduces a series of furry cases that are appropriately named Santa ($20) and Safari ($20 each), and less appropriately classed as Sportsuits. There’s nothing sporty about these pouch designs - they’re all about fun, and designed very simply: each case is a pouch with a total of one hole (at the top), a small front fabric loop for a detachable black and silver metal carabiner, and a larger rear loop for attachment to your belt.
There are seven Safari variants - black panther, white polar bear, pink flamingo, giraffe print, leopard print, zebra print and tiger print - most with matted fur, but the panther, bear and flamingo variants with a puffier, feathered texture. Then there’s Santa, with a soft red body and feathered white top trim. Santa mounts its carabiner loop on its top back, but is otherwise essentially the same case: it lacks only a small Velcro tab that seals the Safaris partially closed at top, leaving holes for headphones and the right side of nano’s Dock Connector. Marware includes a nice black fabric cord lanyard with each of these Sportsuits if you want to wear your fuzzy nano around your neck.
As noted above, pouches are less well-suited to the nano than other iPods, because you’re required to insert your nano upside down and lose access to its screen and controls while inside, gaining access only if you remove the entire nano. This makes all of these pouches inconvenient by our standards. Unlike Marware’s Sportsuit Sleeve, and other nano cases such as Moshi’s nanoPouch, these cases don’t include earbud holders, draw strings or real belt clips, so you’ll be making some compromises on features for the $20 price. But some will find Marware’s still unique looks and materials enough of an enticement to justify a purchase, and we think Santa continues to be a special standout because of its festive design. If you’re looking for a holiday iPod case, you’ll do no better than Santa, and if you want something fun and (generally) feline, Safari is a good option, as well.