Pros: Substantially protective vulcanized neoprene case for the iPod nano with sturdy spring-loaded belt clip, which turns 180 degrees, and detaches from an included elastic and Velcro armband. Full access to the nano’s controls and screen while inside, bottom flap opens to expose Dock Connector port when desired.
Cons: Case design is good but not great. Belt clip is non-detachable, unlike most of the other iPod nano armbands we’ve recently tested, and no additional frills (second band, wrist strap, or the like) are provided in the package. Armband isn’t as comfortable on the skin as other neoprene ones we’ve tested.
Black neoprene is the apparent material of choice for iPod arm bands, and DLO’s Action Jacket for iPod nano ($30) delivers pretty much exactly what we expected: like its recent predecessors, it’s a two piece black neoprene case and arm band, detachable from the case by virtue of a plastic belt clip.
By iPod nano standards, the case is nice, but not great. DLO’s vulcanized black neoprene is flat rather than shiny, making the case look contemporary enough, and the front uses a single sheet of clear vinyl to cover the nano’s screen and Click Wheel while providing access. Only two parts of the nano are exposed: its Hold switch (unnecessarily), and its headphone port, for which DLO leaves a hole large enough for any sized plug. This is very good by nano case standards, but average by recent nano armband standards – Marware’s SportSuit Convertible (iLounge rating: B+) is a bit more aggressively designed, as is XtremeMac’s SportWrap (iLounge rating: A-).
A Velcro flap at the bottom opens for nano insertion, closing to cover the entire Dock Connector port, which we liked, though not as much as Marware’s bottom coverage solution. You can open the flap to expose the port for use in a car; the case grips the nano well enough that slipping out is not an issue.
DLO’s armband and belt clip solution works fine – the band is not the most comfortable we’ve used, but not bad by any means, roughly the same length as SportWrap’s armband, and an inch longer than Marware’s. The only comfort issue is the less than soft elastic, which can feel a little rough against sensitive skin, contrasting with the softer neoprene used by both Marware and XtremeMac. We liked the quality of DLO’s belt clip, which rotates 180 degrees and remains a hard, spring-loaded plastic piece, but it’s still non-detachable – both SportSuit Convertible and SportWrap are thinner as a consequence.
The biggest distinction between these packages is what you get for the price. For the same $30, Marware includes an arm band, wrist strap, lid and belt clip in addition to its case, and XtremeMac includes both an arm band and a wrist band, an integrated belt loop, and a better-designed neoprene case. Incase’s Neoprene Sports Case (iLounge rating: A-) has both a hand strap and an armband, plus a slicker neoprene case than the Action Jacket. All of these other cases conspire to make Action Jacket a pretty good but not amazing alternative – no doubt a better buy than Apple’s own iPod nano Armband (iLounge rating: B), but not one we’d pick over the aforementioned options unless you prefer the style and simplicity.
Company and Price
Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Compatible: iPod nano