Review: SwitchEasy Biscuits for G3 Nano
Pros: A highly impressive early hard plastic case for the third-generation iPod nano, offering virtually complete protection and a tremendous variety of extra pack-ins, including an iPod speaker and dock-compatible Universal Dock Adapter, lanyard necklace, and cleaning cloth. Great value for the dollar.
Cons: Bottom hole isn’t compatible with every nano-friendly accessory. Colors and gloss mightn’t be right for all users. Click Wheel protector looks cheaper than the rest of the case.
Very few iPod case makers have us actively rooting for their products these days, as prices continue to go up while designs stay mostly the same. SwitchEasy is the blessed exception. Every generation of its products gets a bit better than the one that came before, and its prices remain reasonable all the while. Consequently, the company’s latest cases, cheekily titled Biscuits ($20) and Black Biscuit ($22) for the third-generation iPod nano, are surprisingly strong early entries for Apple’s smallest video playing device.
There are five Biscuit cases—one each in white, green, blue, red, and pink—and one Black Biscuit, which as the name suggests is entirely black. None of the colors fully matches Apple’s latest nano lineup; rather, they’re almost all a bit more polarized: red, green, and blue are all strong, while white and black are pure, and pink is a light shade, rather than hot. Each one except for Black Biscuit has an almost perfectly clear plastic screen protector molded in; Black Biscuit has a smoke black “privacy” screen protector that dims the nano’s screen from any angle, and particularly when seen off-center. Our photos don’t illustrate the actual level of dimness, which is lower than what’s seen here.
All six of the cases start with two hard plastic half-shells that slide together to cover almost the entire body of the new nano, leaving only two openings: one for the Click Wheel, and one for its bottom Hold switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port. SwitchEasy nicely tapers the Click Wheel hole’s sides to let you more easily access the new nano’s smaller-than-ever controls, without presenting any rough edges for your fingers to scrape. And thanks to the improved third-generation nano design, those two holes are all that’s necessary: the rest of its body is completely protected, except for two tiny holes low on each Biscuit’s back. It’s an elegantly simple, figuratively well-polished case: Biscuit is easy to put together, use while assembled, and take apart when you don’t want it on any more.
The Biscuit cases also show literal polish. Thanks to its semi-translucent front surface, the Black Biscuit manages to make the already cool new black nano look even more slate-like and impressive, transforming it into the visual equivalent of a Sony OLED-based device rather than an LCD-screened music player. The standard Biscuits also have a gloss that will call extra attention to your nano, assuming that’s something you want; SwitchEasy includes a cleaning cloth to wipe off each case when, like the nano, it attracts fingerprints.
That’s only one of the many extras SwitchEasy includes with each Biscuit without jacking up the price. The tiny bottom back holes are for an included soft fabric lanyard necklace; you also get a Biscuit-sized Universal Dock Adapter that lets you use the encased nano with docking iPod accessories, a case color-matched separate protector for the Dock Connector port, a Click Wheel sticker, a clear sticker protector for the back of the nano, and a headphone port extender. The port extender and lanyard come in white with standard Biscuits, and black with the Black Biscuit. It bears mention at this point that the inclusion of the Dock Connector cover and port extender are all but shocking; they really suggest that SwitchEasy thought of every possible way this case might be used, and wanted to accommodate it.
If there are any slightly wrong turns in SwitchEasy’s design, they’d be three in number. First, the case’s hard plastic bottom won’t fully allow connection of certain thicker-than-Apple-cable accessories, including some FM transmitters, voice recorders, and the like; others thankfully work just fine. Second, the glossy, not-quite-Apple colors may or may not appeal to some users. And third, the Biscuit Click Wheel protectors fit fine but look awful, like cheap scotch tape rather than decent clear or colored film. They detract from what we think is an otherwise beautiful design, in aesthetics if not protectiveness.
Overall, these are relatively small issues, but they limit what would otherwise be the ideal third-generation iPod nano case for its reasonable $20-22 asking prices. Even so, Biscuit and Black Biscuit are most certainly worthy of our high recommendations: with only minor reservations, SwitchEasy continues to impress on design, value for the dollar, and protection when too many other companies seem content to do less and want more.