Company: Portable Device Outfitters (PDO)
Compatible: iPod nano (video), classic, touch, iPhone
PDO Sporteer Armbands for iPod nano, classic, touch and iPhone
Having already reviewed many great iPod armbands, today we're briefly looking at several that didn't impress us as much: PDO's Sporteers for iPod nano, classic, touch and iPhone ($25 each), Grantwood Technology's Tuneband for iPod nano ($20), and Case Logic's True Sport Armbands for iPod nano, iPod classic, and iPod touch ($30 each). Each of these armbands has one novel feature that we really liked, as well as something that we really didn't like.
PDO’s Sporteers are the most unobjectionable of the group. Sold in three separate versions, the Sporteers are simple black neoprene armbands with iPod pockets and touch-through clear plastic faces. An iPod nano version is designed solely to fit the third-generation nano, with holes in the top and bottom, while another version is for iPod classic and fifth-generation iPod owners, and a third version is for the iPod touch and iPhone, differentiated from the second by a little added height and a touch-ready headphone port hole in the bottom right corner. The iPod nano version has an additional hole for Dock Connector access, intended to aid compatibility with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, which at the time of this review works only with the nano. Three reflective silver stripes are designed to improve your visibility at night.
On a positive note, the Sporteers offer a generally acceptable balance of protection and usability. All three cover the full faces of their respective iPods and iPhones, as well as most of the devices’ bodies, and PDO’s 18” armbands are soft and comfortable on small- to medium-sized arms. We weren’t as fond of the generic designs, which look like devolved versions of many earlier and better armbands we’ve tested, and here tend to fully expose the top of every device that goes inside—not the best type of coverage for sweaty users to depend upon. Additionally, touch sensitivity is somewhat inhibited by the Sporteers’ plastic faces, though all of the devices remain usable for basic functionality, and the holes on the bottom of the nano and touch versions work, if only with a little fidgeting. These aren’t amazing armbands in looks, features, or pricing; they are competent, nothing more.
We find it hard to get excited about any of these armbands given how excellent past offerings from Apple, Marware, and Nike have been; none of these would be on our list of strong recommendations. PDO’s Sporteers are the closest to good—we’d give them a limited recommendation to users who don’t mind paying par prices for generic designs—while Case Logic’s True Sport and Grantwood’s Tuneband rate lower in the merely passable category. Ideally, should subsequent versions of these armbands be released, it would help for their vendors to pay even more attention to both usability and protection.