Over the past two weeks, we’ve been flooded with clear hard plastic iPod cases — eight for the third-generation iPod nano alone. Highly similar from product to product, we’re covering all eight in comparative reviews today, pointing out their few differences as appropriate. In the order we’re covering them in, there’s DLO’s Shell ($20), Griffin’s iClear ($20), Tunewear’s Tuneshell ($20), DLO’s HybridShell and MetalShell ($20 each), Speck’s SeeThru ($25), Gecko Gear’s Ice Case ($25), and Contour Design’s iSee nano V3 ($25).
DLO’s Shell is this comparative review’s starting point because it is the most basic, and typical, of all of the designs here. It consists solely of two pieces of clear hard plastic—one for the third-generation nano’s face, and one for its sides and back. They snap together with four clips, two each on the left and right sides, and like all of the other cases here, the completed Shell covers all of the nano except for its Click Wheel and bottom, which provides full access to the nano’s Hold switch, Dock Connector, and headphone port.
The case is fully compatible with Universal Dock-equipped iPod accessories, as well as oversized headphone plugs, but does not work with other Dock Connecting accessories that have larger plugs than Apple’s own USB cables.
DLO’s HybridShell and MetalShell are Shell, only with different front or back pieces. MetalShell preserves Shell’s back, but adds to its front a glued-on piece of rich blue or red metal that covers the nano’s natural face color while exposing its screen and Click Wheel.
The HybridShell instead preserves Shell’s clear face, but replaces its back with a textured silicone rubber-coated piece that includes grip dots. You can choose between a white back or black back; both obscure the nano’s mirrored rear metal surface. They offer the same access to nano’s bottom as Shell, and don’t come with any other pack-ins; we consider them to be equally good buys, and not quite as cool as DLO’s HybridShell for the iPod touch.
Our overall feelings about this group of clear plastic iPod nano cases were generally positive—these are all good cases—but there were no superstars in the collection: small accessory compatibility issues took away from what were otherwise the two best offerings in the group, Gecko’s Ice Case and Contour’s iSee nano V3, while the other cases looked good and worked well, but didn’t provide as much protection. Griffin’s iClear and Tunewear’s Tuneshell provide the most accessory compatibility of the group, but iClear isn’t as rough around the edges, while iSee nano V3 does the best on protection, and Ice Case the best on pack-ins; the one you’ll prefer will depend more on the features and pricing you prefer than their looks. DLO’s offerings vary the most in aesthetics for the same price, but none is a major standout from other shell-like cases we’ve been testing.
Company and Price
Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Compatible: iPod nano (video)