Review: Power Support Crystal Jacket for iPod nano
Pros: A clear hard shell for the iPod nano, complete with three pieces of protective film and a detachable belt clip, collectively providing full nano front, back, and side protection, as well as coverage for most of its top. Thanks to the included Film, which sells separately for nearly the cost of this entire package, neither access to nor protection of the nano’s Click Wheel is compromised while inside, and you can remove nano from the Jacket while preserving substantial front and rear scratch protection.
Cons: Nano’s entire bottom remains exposed, as does its top Hold switch, though users of oversized headphones may need to do a little squeezing to make a full connection. Case will show scratches instead of your nano, a compromise most people won’t mind.
Every generation of iPod receives a Crystal Jacket from Power Support, and the latest one to get the treatment is the iPod nano - a device which displays more than its fair share of scratches, and in many eyes especially benefits from a simple clear hard case. With its Crystal Jacket Set for iPod nano ($20), Power Support has gone a bit above and beyond its competitors, including in a single package a hard case, a belt clip, and protective film, providing more iPod coverage than Contour Design’s recent iSee-nano (iLounge rating: B) for the exact same price.
Appearance: As with its prior Crystal Jackets, Power Support has opted for simplicity and minimalism here: the nano case is a medium weight hard plastic shell that snaps on in two pieces (front and back), covering all of nano’s body save its Hold switch, bottom, and Click Wheel. There is also a detachable clear plastic clip that’s thin in profile, and holds on to the case by its sides. From a distance, the case looks identical to Contour’s iSee-nano, but it’s actually a little narrower, and protects every millimeter around the nano’s Click Wheel, which iSee-nano’s more generous central hole does not.
The key difference is that Power Support also includes three pieces of Crystal Film in every package - a Click Wheel protector, a full iPod nano face surface protector, and a partial iPod nano back protector - a $15 set that we’ve reviewed previously (iLounge rating: B+). Separately, the Film did a good job of protecting the nano’s most sensitive parts, but added to the Jacket, the Click Wheel protector is magic: now you have clear protection for the entire face of the iPod nano when it’s inside the hard shell, and the option to keep some front and back protection when nano’s outside, as well.
Build Quality: Crystal Jacket feels well-made, though its side locking mechanism isn’t as rigid as Contour’s is with iSee-nano. The difference is modest, and practically not important unless you want to take the cases off - iSee-nano is comparatively hard to remove from the nano, and Crystal Jacket easy. We were initially concerned that Crystal Jacket might come apart during normal use, but it hasn’t during our testing, even when worn with Apple’s Lanyard Headphones and bounced around. This is all generally good news. Power Support’s belt clip isn’t quite as firm as Contour’s, but again, the difference is small.
Both cases have the same general issues - first, they still show scratches of their own. Most people will not mind this, as the Crystal Jacket is absorbing damage that could otherwise be scratching the nano, but just don’t expect that the case will be unblemished. Second, both create a mild prismatic effect on the nano’s screen, something that doesn’t affect daily usage much at all, and doesn’t detract from our ratings for nano-specific products.
Ease of Use: Crystal Jacket provides a generally clear view of the iPod nano’s screen, full access to its controls, Hold switch, and both bottom ports, which is good for people who want all of that access, and more than a bit better than iSee-nano: Power Support’s included Click Wheel film is an ideal way to scratch-proof the nano’s last remaining front component without compromising its use in any way. The Hold switch hole is a bit smaller than Contour’s, but still entirely usable, while the hole on the bottom is a little bit better for oversized headphones than Contour’s, yet still not ideal. Fans of Apple’s Lanyard Headphones will be glad to know that they work with this case without an issue, though we continue to wish that these hard cases included a detachable cover for most of nano’s bottom, and complete top protection as well - it’s easy enough to pop the case open to use the Hold switch if it’s necessary.
Special Features/Innovation: These Crystal Jackets have been done before many times - the only innovation here is that Power Support now includes its 3D Wheel Film rather than its older standard Wheel Film, which lacked protection for the iPod’s center Action button. We’re thrilled that the company’s now including the better Film instead. The inclusion of a detachable belt clip is new to the Crystal Jackets, but not to competing products. Contour’s clip, which the company designed to permit some headphone cord management, is actually a little better than this one, but we consider that particular difference relatively trivial.
Protectiveness and Value: By comparison with iSee-nano, the only other clear hard case that’s out there right now, the Crystal Jacket is more protective. For the same price, you get complete iPod nano face protection, plus iSee-nano’s complete back and side protection, and slightly better coverage of most of nano’s top. Better yet, when you pop this case off, you still have the Crystal Film’s substantial front and rear protection, which you don’t have with iSee-nano.
The added protection and fair price are the biggest factors weighing in favor of our high recommendation. Crystal Jacket is not a perfectly protective case, but for $20, you get both a case and the company’s high-quality body film, collectively providing more nano coverage than most of the other cases we’ve seen. Other than the fact that the nano’s bottom remains open at all times, there’s very little Power Support could have done to make Crystal Jacket a better offering.