Review: United SGP Corp. SGP Shields for iPod nano 4G + iPod touch 2G
Having previously reviewed NLU Products' BodyGuardz for the fourth-generation iPod nano and iPod touch 2G, we won't repeat most of the same details in our review of United SGP's SGP Shields for iPod nano 4G ($26) and iPod touch 2G ($26): these products are fundamentally almost identical. In each case, the company gives you a kit with clear film that covers the vast majority of each device's body, plus application solution, a squeegee, and a cleaning cloth. They differ only slightly in pricing, and in small details of their approaches to iPod nano and iPod touch coverage.
Like all of the clear film protectors we review, the SGP Shields have a major advantage over traditional iPod cases: they protect while offering virtually complete accessory compatibility. By adding less than a millimeter of thickness to the devices they cover, these films ensure that you can connect any headphones, Dock Connector cables, speakers, and docks to the nano and iPod touch, and generally enable you to use the covered devices inside of custom-fit car mounts, as well. You also get to see all of the device’s body, limited only by whatever small air bubble blemishes you can’t eliminate during the one-time installation process; the special flexible plastic coating scratchproofs the iPod inside, adding a glossy sheen to its matte surfaces.
As was the case with BodyGuardz, SGP Shield for the iPod nano protects virtually every millimeter of the fourth-generation model when it’s attached. United SGP similarly uses a single piece of film for the device’s body, excepting only the top and bottom, which are covered with separate included film that you slightly wet before applying it to the device’s surfaces. Once they’re applied, the only major difference you’ll notice between them is on the back: a straight line separates the rear left and right sides of the NLU film, while a notched line is found on the SGP version, apparently intended to avoid interruption of the Apple and iPod logos. Both leave very thin gaps between their two sides on the back, but protect virtually every millimeter of the nano from screen to wheel.
There are only a few other differences between the two companies’ nano films: NLU’s design makes the Click Wheel covers detach by design, letting users choose whether to apply them in light of the possibility that removing them could possibly separate the Click Wheel from the rest of the nano—something we’ve never had happen in our many tests of clear film—while United SGP’s instead keeps the Click Wheel covers as part of its front film, slightly etched with bend points for the Click Wheel’s buttons. In our testing, BodyGuardz made the nano’s controls a little more responsive, and it was a little easier to align on the nano; the end result was a little better than the SGP Shield because of this slight difference in approach.
Similarly, you need to use a pen and some pre-scored lines to punch the headphone, Dock Connector, and Hold switch holes from the top and bottom pieces yourself. This is a trivial inconvenience, but the ease of application and superior-looking front Click Wheel coverage both weigh in NLU’s favor.
On the flip side, the iPod touch version of SGP Shield is a bit better than NLU’s. Both companies use rear film that showed blemishes during and after application; whether it’s the curved surface of the new iPod touch or the film that’s to blame will be the subject of some debate. We have yet to see rear film that looks totally flawless on the touch, though, and there may never be such a thing. However, United SGP includes static cling screen protectors for the device’s face—clearer than NLU’s—and a Home button cover. The result is a perfect-looking iPod touch screen and a protected button, both features missing from the iPod touch version of BodyGuardz, plus very substantial body protection that is basically the same as NLU’s in scope and strength.
The only major factor in NLU’s favor on both of these products is its stated warranty policy. Both companies give you two full sets of device film for their asking prices—$25 for BodyGuardz, $26 for SGP Shield—but NLU goes a little further, offering to replace the film if it has issues for any reason. You can decide whether this matters to you, but in our experience, both companies’ film is very durable and unlikely to come off accidentally; BodyGuardz may be a better pick for users in more extreme usage scenarios, but United SGP’s touch design would be our top pick for users looking for the ultimate in screen clarity.
Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with either company’s film, as both provide very impressive protection with a high degree of device usability. We’d give NLU the edge for the fourth-generation nano, and SGP the edge for the iPod touch, unless warranty coverage is your key consideration—in that case, NLU is the wiser pick for both devices. Both will look as good or better than our photos if you take the time to work the air bubbles out, and work in a dust-free environment with fresh-from-box iPods.