Review: ventureDESIGNworks freeHAND
We've been heavily focused on certain priority iPod and iPhone accessories over the last couple of months, but wanted to keep a handful of interesting budget-priced options from falling through the cracks. The most memorable of the group is ventureDESIGNworks' freeHAND ($22), a wearable iPod nano case that's designed to wrap around your hand. Large and small sized versions for different hand sizes are available.
Strictly speaking, freeHAND—billed as a “a pocket for the back of your hand”—is supposed to be device agnostic enough to hold anything from an iPod to a RAZR, Treo, or just some cash and a credit card. It was designed for runners, cyclists, and power walkers, combining a semi-perforated neoprene and Velcro hand mount with a mesh pocket that faces upwards, on top of your knuckles. You strap it on to either hand, stuff your iPod inside, connect your earphones, and go.
On a positive note, if you expect freeHAND to be nothing more than an iPod nano holder, you’ll be satisfied. Though it just barely fits the 60/80GB fifth-generation iPod, as shown in our photos—think about wearing a deck of cards on the outside of your hand, and then, with slightly awkward headphone port access—it feels just fine with any smaller iPod, especially the nano. It also doesn’t stress your hand or wrist much during any sort of activity, from running to just typing on a computer. You don’t have complete freedom of hand movement, but you can do almost anything without an issue, and as odd as the mounting location may seem at first, it doesn’t look as goofy as one might expect.
“iPod nano holder” is a pretty limiting concept, though. Unfortunately, ventureDESIGNworks uses mesh that provides very limited iPod screen and control access, so you can’t really do much with the nano once it’s inside. On the occasion that the Click Wheel’s touch surface does work—press hard—you won’t be able to read anything on the iPod’s screen. It’s sort of like Nike’s now-defunct Nike+ Sport Armbands for the iPod nano, only that the mesh teases you into thinking you can see something.
Of the hand-mounted iPod holders we’ve seen, freeHAND is noteworthy for its looks and feel, but not for its iPod-specific functionality. We’d pass on it unless you’re not in need of iPod screen or control access; a revised follow-up for future iPods could be a cool product.