Review: Speck Products SkinTight, Deluxe, and Connect & Protect for iPod nano
Pros: Three plastic SkinTight cases that cover your nano’s front, back and sides, each including a hard clear screen protector. Standard version available in three colors; Deluxe version in two colors, and includes belt clip Holster; Connect & Protect version in one color, and includes Holster, lanyard, wrist strap, and carabineer clip, as well as a little additional top protection.
Cons: No Click Wheel protection and poor bottom protection on all three cases; very limited top protection on the two SkinTights. Value isn’t good by comparison with top options we’ve tested at various price points.
It might be an understatement to suggest that we’ve been overloaded with new cases for the iPod nano over the last few weeks: there’s been a flood, and we’ve tried to focus most of our attention on the best ones. But there are others we’ve waited to review until now, and you can guess why: they’re not all that impressive. Speck’s latest SkinTight ($20), SkinTight Deluxe ($25), and Connect & Protect ($35) cases are among them.
Like the nano cases we’ve previously reviewed from Speck, the standard SkinTight case is made from a soft plastic that feels like hard rubber, coating most of your nano in your choice of frosted clear, pink, or black colors. A package with all three colors is available for $30. Each of the cases comes with a hard clear screen protector, but exposes the nano’s Click Wheel, top, and bottom - the bottom especially, thanks to an open, curved shape that actually leaves more of nano’s corners showing than Speck’s other cases. A small bit of corner protection is all that the nano’s top receives; the majority of its surface is exposed.
Unlike the other Speck cases we’ve reviewed, the standard SkinTight is visually only one step better than plain. Elevated curves on its front and back sides take the case a little above generic status, but aren’t nearly as interesting as the company’s Cloud or Grass FunSkins, or nano ToughSkin. No belt clip nub or detachable belt clip is included with the standard case, so its back is otherwise unadorned, save for a Speck logo at the bottom. We’re also not especially fond of the texture of the plastic, but that’s another story. Its resilience is the only thing we liked, but again, what use is resilient material when it doesn’t cover as much of the iPod as softer cases we’ve tested?
For an additional $5 over the standard SkinTight’s $20 price, Speck sells SkinTight Deluxe, which is identical to the standard version save for an included detachable belt clip called the Holster. Only black and frosted clear versions of SkinTight Deluxe are available, and they ship with black or white Holsters, respectively - a double pack with both cases and clips is available for $35.
We have two major comments on these clips: first, the idea of a separate, nub-less belt clip, particularly one that’s sold separately, ratchets through 360 degrees of rotation like this one does, and uses a spring-loaded clip, is totally fine by us. Holster grabs your encased nano with three plastic grips, and uses a foam rear pad to keep SkinTight in place as it rotates around, also a fine idea.
But as released, the Holster is an inelegant and not especially attractive solution, far more practical than fashionable. iSkin’s RevoClip2 for iSkin’s Duo case for iPod nano (iLounge rating: A) achieves virtually identical functionality without looking anywhere near as bulky or noticeable, and we’d pick it any day of the week over this.
Connect & Protect
Finally, there’s Connect & Protect. We liked this idea, a combination of one iPod case and multiple attachment clips, back when Speck released it for the iPod shuffle (iLounge rating: B+), but the iPod nano version isn’t as hot. The five-piece set begins with a slightly modified SkinTight case, then adds SkinTight Deluxe’s Holster belt clip, a lanyard necklace, carabineer clip, and wrist strap. Speck has dropped the keychain attachment found in the iPod shuffle version, which was our favorite in the last bunch.
Surprisingly, the case now includes protection for nano’s top center and right side - a change we wished was in the other SkinTights - but the change appears to have been made mostly to support a small connected loop of plastic that’s used to attach the accessories. Otherwise, the case is identical to the others above.
Speck’s attachments are alright. We’ve covered the Holster above; the carabineer clip is a lightweight, spring-loaded silver metal hook that attaches to a bag, belt, or any other loop, connecting to the case with a white glossy plastic peg. It does its job, nothing more.
The wrist strap is a small white fabric loop with plastic parts at its ends and center. At one end is the peg to connect the strap to the case, the other a plastic joiner for the two sides of the fabric loop, and in the center an adjustable slider to make the strap as loose or tight on your wrist as you prefer. This part works well, and is visually unoffensive, though the white color may not be preferred by owners of black nanos. Speck’s lanyard is identical, only with a greater length of fabric.
Beyond our earlier issues with the SkinTight case, Connect & Protect has one other: the rubber mechanism used to attach the peg to the case. It works, but is minimalist to the point of concern: a strong (emphasis on strong) yank on the attached accessory will break the rubber, but normal daily use will not. We’re under the impression that this part may be changing in subsequent revisions of the product, but the one we received for review was iffy, the major reason this case didn’t receive a slightly better grade than the other SkinTights.
Overall, we’re not blown away by any of the variants of SkinTight here - Speck’s other nano cases are better, and more interesting. Though the bare version of SkinTight is the most affordable of the bunch, it’s been surpassed on protectiveness for the dollar by numerous alternatives, including Marware’s Sport Grip (iLounge rating: B+), and neither it nor the Deluxe version compares in any way with the comparatively advanced design of iSkin’s Duo. Connect & Protect is a similarly adequate solution that could really have used additional polish on both case design and the attachment mechanism, but is a better than decent value given its attachments. None of these cases is bad, but considering all of the other options out there, none of them is better than okay, either.