Company: Speck Products
Price: $30 (nano), $35 (5G)
Compatible: iPod 5G, nano
Speck Products Canvas Sport for iPod with video and iPod nano (1G/2G)
Pros: A novel adaptation of Converse All-Star shoes into an iPod case design, available in three colors for the 5G iPod and five for the second-generation iPod nano, each with an integrated belt clip, clear screen protection, and access ports for most or all of the iPod’s key parts. Strong bodies provide significant protection.
Cons: Small fit and finish issues in 5G version detract from cases’ overall good looks, including small and/or moderately misaligned holes and weak glue on certain cases’ top flaps. Slightly pricey.
Leave it to the people at Speck to develop another “fun” iPod case that stands apart from anything previously released. Sold in pink, white, and black versions, Canvas Sport ($35) clothes your iPod 5G or nano in a Converse All-Star-style sneaker casing, complete with stitched canvas, rubber sole-like side, top, and bottom surfaces, and finally, a rear belt clip. A rubber flap with a snap holds the back piece steady on your iPod; the one-size-fits-all 5G version comes with an adhesive foam insert to resize its interior compartment for thinner, 30GB iPods. Clear screen protection is integrated into each of the cases.
Though its target audience probably won’t mind its imperfections, Canvas Sport for the 5G iPod scores a 7 on overall build quality; the newer nano version an 8. Both cases look like a real challenge to manufacture, with shoe-like body stitching and a unique combination of canvas and rubber parts. The iPod’s screen, controls, and ports - whether nano or 5G - are pretty close to ideal alignment, with the Click Wheel hole a hair off on the 5G case. We did notice a few small issues on the 5G version - the glue holding the snap-shut flaps on a couple of our cases was loose, exposing the surface underneath, the alignment of the bottom rubber under the Click Wheel was a little uneven, and, like shoes, the rubber scuffs a bit with daily use on both models. The newer nano version still has little issues from case to case, such as the fit of the back flap, but has come some ways.
The Canvas Sport cases score pretty well on Ease of Use. Speck’s 5G version provides access to all five key parts of that iPod - headphone port, bottom connector, Hold switch, screen, and Click Wheel. Though the headphone port hole is only large enough for small (Apple-sized) headphone plugs, and the Dock Connector port hole is only large enough for smaller (Apple-sized) cables, we felt an Ease of Use score of 9 was appropriate for the 5G. The nano case provides no access to the Dock Connector, and its headphone port hole is smaller than the 5G’s, albeit big enough to let original and new nanos work inside. Just don’t expect to use anything other than Apple’s headphones, which gives the nano version an overall score of 8. Also, we didn’t deduct points because of it, but it’s worth noting that it’s initially hard to get your iPod out of the 5G version - thankfully it loosens up a little after normal use.
For the 5G iPod, Speck’s newest case scores 5 in Special Features, mostly because of the innovation of this design; the nano version scores an extra point because of its selection of five colors (blue, green, pink, silver, and black). The novel look and feel of the shoe-like canvas and rubber concoction is the big draw here, giving fans of Converse All-Stars an iPod case to match their shoes, and as previously noted, there are three popular colors for the 5G iPod. Speck also includes belt clips on the cases’ rears, nicely coated in matching canvas; you can’t remove the clips from the cases’ bodies. Of the cases, the only slightly different one is the silver nano version, which uses shiny Nike-like fabric instead of a rough-textured canvas.
On protectiveness, the Canvas Sport cases do pretty well. Though they expose the iPod’s ports and controls, they tend to err on the side of overprotectiveness for each port, leaving only one part - the Click Wheel - extremely exposed. The Dock Connector and headphone port of each iPod is open, but recessed under a few millimeters of case material, which feels unusually strong for a fabric case thanks to hard internal reinforcement and rubber coating at key points.
As with almost all recent Speck Products designs, the Canvas Sport cases demand a premium for their designs - both were originally priced at $35, for a rating of 7 overall - which struck us as reasonable given the obvious work that went into coming up with the designs, and executing them as well as they did. Recently reduced in price to $30, the nano version scores an extra point here, totaling 8. While the cases aren’t aggressively priced, and small imperfections detract a little from their overall appeal, our view is that people who are interested in the design will be satisfied by the package overall. We affirmatively liked this case - minus its small issues - and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to our readers. The new and improved nano version is a step beyond the 5G iPod original we tested in small but important ways, and looks good whether used with original or second-generation iPod nanos.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.