Company: Portable Device Outfitters (PDO)
Models: Aluminum N3
Compatible: iPod nano (video)
PDO Aluminum N3 for iPod nano (Third-Generation)
When we reviewed PDO's Aluminum V2 for iPod classic a couple of days ago, we noted that though PDO and similar-sounding competitor PDair were both using the same aluminum enclosures for their iPod cases, they differentiated their products through Click Wheel protection and pricing. Now PDO is offering the somewhat confusingly named Aluminum N3 for the third-generation iPod nano ($25), which actually retreats from the protection offered by the company's earlier Aluminum N2 for the second-generation iPod nano.
All of PDO’s metal cases tend to work the same: they’re made from two pieces that are permanently joined with a hinge, coming together to shield the metal iPod with additional metal in your choice of silver or black colors. Here, there’s a hinge on the right side, neoprene padding inside, and a clear hard plastic screen protector on the front. Access to the iPod’s headphone port, Hold switch, and Dock Connector are uninhibited, while the rest of the device save for its Click Wheel receive full hard metal coverage. The Click Wheel doesn’t sit perfectly aligned with the hole in the front—it hangs a millimeter or two low—but it’s not so noticeable as to make the design look bad.
On last year’s Aluminum N2 case, as well as this year’s Aluminum V2 for iPod classic, the Click Wheel was covered with colored rubber. Unfortunately, the protector’s gone on Aluminum N3, which also has a small crescent-shaped opening on its top, and two half moons near its bottom, the former likely to aid in opening the case, the latter for attachment of an included silver plastic lanyard necklace.
To facilitate switch and port access, the full bottom of the third-generation nano is exposed, and capable of working with Universal Docks, any headphones you may be using, and cable-style iPod accessories. Large full-width connectors such as FM transmitters and microphone accessories may have issues; most of the ones we tested did not work.
Typically, when a case is sold at a more reasonable price than its predecessor, it receives a bump in our ratings. However, our rating of N3 stays on par with last year’s version for only one reason: yes, the price dropped by $5, but the Click Wheel protector disappeared, too. Now the price is closer to right but the feature we look for in a metal case, comprehensive protection, is a step further away. Though this is a good metal case, it falls short of greatness due mostly to protectiveness omissions, and partially due to the generic design. We’d like to see PDO keep its product names and features straight—if not improving—from generation to generation, as it would make it easier to depend on its releases regardless of the iPod model that’s currently in vogue.