Review: Power Support Silicone Jacket for iPod nano
Pros: A strong, conservatively designed silicone rubber case for the iPod nano with included clear screen and complete Click Wheel protection, a detachable belt clip, and your choice of two colors.
Cons: Price is high by comparison with other rubber nano cases of roughly equal protectivity. iPod’s Hold switch and bottom are exposed while inside (under a rubber edge), belt clip is nothing special.
Japan’s Power Support has developed two different types of silicone rubber cases for iPods: ones with rounded corners, called Silicone Jackets, and ones with square corners, called Square Type Silicone Jackets. Though the standard Silicone Jackets have become plain-looking over time by comparison with other rubber cases, we fell in love with last year’s visually distinctive Square Type Silicone Jacket for iPod mini (iLounge rating: A), naming it our 2004 iPod mini Case of the Year. Its thick corners were unique, provided extra anti-drop protection, and played interesting visual tricks with the colored iPod minis inside. Since then, we (and our readers) have been hoping for Square Types for 4Gs, nanos, and 5G iPods, but none has appeared.
Instead, Power Support has taken an intermediate step, evolving some of its standard Silicone Jackets with a simple twist. Both its iPod shuffle Silicone Jacket (iLounge rating: A-) and Silicone Jacket for iPod nano ($25) have rounded top and bottom corners, but square side edges. This compromise preserves a portion of the mini Square Type’s distinctive looks, while regrettably losing some of the added rubber that made it so unique. We received translucent frosted clear and opaque black versions of the case for testing; we strongly preferred the former to the latter, and hope that the company produces additional colors.
Other than appearance, the two things that stand out most about the Silicone Jacket are the quality of its rubber and the precision of its manufacture. Power Support continues to use medical grade Japanese silicone - strong, tear-proof, and attractive - to cover the nano’s entire back and sides, as well as most of its front and top. We’ve never had a rip in any of our Power Support cases, and over two weeks of testing have had no issues with this one, either. There are also small, impressive details in the case’s holes - a slight taper in the top Hold switch hole, for instance, and tiny depressions around the bottom headphone and Dock Connector port hole - which show the company’s desire to protect the nano while making its controls and ports easy to use. Thanks to these little details, Silicone Jacket had no problems use our largest headphone plugs or bottom-connecting iPod cables.
And though nano’s screen and Click Wheel aren’t covered by rubber, Power Support protects them with durable, easy-to-apply clear film covers that are included in the purchase price - some of the best we’ve seen anywhere. The screen protector is clear and easy to attach or remove, while the Click Wheel protector is an improvement on the donut-shaped ones that used to come with the company’s 3G, 4G, and mini cases. It’s one of Power Support’s 3-D Wheel Films, which fully covers the previously exposed center Action button. We strongly recommend that you clean the front of your nano before applying these protectors, as they look and work best when the iPod’s not dusty or dirty.
Unfortunately, the iPod’s top and bottom are protected only passively: there’s a millimeter or two of rubber around each edge as a drop barrier between the iPod’s top and bottom holes and any surfaces they might touch. We prefer flip-open anti-scratch protection, as iSkin accomplished with its recent shuffle and nano Duo cases (iLounge rating: A), but Silicone Jacket comes close; the Hold switch hole is as small as possible, and there’s enough rubber on the edge of the bottom hole to prevent nano-on-surface contact.
Power Support also includes one last piece in the package: a black or white detachable plastic belt clip that grabs the case’s sides, attaching without a rear nub and holding nano rightside up or upside down on your clothes. The clip’s not as impressive or positionable as the one iSkin engineered for Duo, but it’s okay, and has a hole in the center that you can wrap headphone cords around. We generally don’t mind so-so belt clips because we don’t use them, and actually prefer cases (like Silicone Jacket) with totally flat backs, but if clips are important to you, consider some other options.
Overall, the new Silicone Jacket is a highly protective, durable silicone rubber case with great screen and Click Wheel coverage. The only major issue is its price: at a time when Apple is selling five iPod nano Tubes (iLounge rating: B+) for $29, you get one Silicone Jacket set for $25. True, none of the nano Tubes includes the screen protection or belt clip found in the Silicone Jacket package, but it’s still five cases versus one. Then there’s Marware’s aggressively priced Sport Grip [url=http://ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/marware-sport-grip-for-ipod-nano-ipod/](iLounge rating: B+), which includes just as much body, screen and Wheel protection thanks to included clear film protectors. Again, there’s a hitch or two: Sport Grip isn’t as nice looking, and also doesn’t