It’s not difficult to make a good iPod armband. But certain companies are decidedly better than others, especially when dealing with the iPod nano, as the most recent crop of armband accessories demonstrates. Today, we look briefly at new options from Capdase, CoverCase, Nike, and Speck; this review covers Capdase’s Sport Armbands for iPod nano, iPod classic, and iPod touch ($15 each).
Of all of the armbands we look at today, the Sport Armbands are unquestionably the most generic. Rather than aggressively rethinking the nature or look of an iPod armband, Capdase has gone with an age-old design—a black neoprene enclosure with a non-detachable matching armband for use during workouts. A clear plastic face protector covers each iPod’s screen and controls completely, while the remaining neoprene has a large rear slit for iPod insertion and removal, as well as a hole for headphone connection. Velcro enables the armbands to be resized to your bicep’s size.
The familiarity continues to the Sport Armbands’ other details. They don’t have the reflective nighttime running material found on many of their competitors; instead, there’s a leather O-ring that wraps around each iPod’s face to provide the only modest amount of style Capdase offers in the design. Over time, the ring has a better prospect of wearing out than the rest of the case, and more usefully would have been replaced with a reflective plastic. Like most other armbands out there, they offer 17 inches of material from end to end—only a hint shorter than Apple’s own iPod nano Armband—and the armband isn’t perforated or made from breathable material.
But that’s not to say that these are bad armbands. Unlike XtremeMac’s corner-cutting “one size doesn’t really fit all” SportWrap for iPod classic, touch, and iPhone, each of the armbands is contoured specifically to one iPod. They’re almost completely protective of the iPods inside, save for the rear slits, which leave your iPod a little susceptible to whatever sweat your arm may put out, but thankfully not rain. Their front surfaces fully cover the iPods without impeding use of the controls; our only complaint relative to cases we’ve tested from Apple and Nike is that the clear front plastic isn’t molded to any iPod’s Click Wheel or matte finished for easier use when wet. That said, we found the nano, classic, and touch usable inside; the simple headphone port hole worked fine with whatever type of plug we tried to connect.
The only real sin Capdase has committed with the Sport Armband is blending in too much with the pack, and not introducing any of the innovations competitors have offered over the past couple of years. That’s offset heavily by the pricing, which is half of what many competing options cost, making this a much better than average armband value—it’s almost unthinkable to consider paying a similar price for something like CoverCase’s Dual SlimSkin. They may not be innovative, but aggressive pricing and good protection make the Sport Armbands more than worthy of our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: Sport Armband
Compatible: iPod nano (video), iPod classic, iPod touch