Every generation of iPods gets a familiar but “new” set of armbands, and the late 2007 iPods aren’t any different: XtremeMac’s new SportWraps, Griffin Technology’s new Streamline for iPod nano (video), and Gecko Gear’s Nano Sports Armband are all successors to earlier products we’ve looked at; the new versions each sell for $30, and have some noteworthy differences from the ones that came before. The iPod nano versions compete against Apple’s official iPod nano Armband, which has made major strides from earlier versions, and now rates as one of the company’s best armbands ever.
The last of the cases is Gecko Gear’s Nano Sports Armband. On paper, Gecko’s design has the most to offer: a detachable and separately usable iPod nano silicone rubber case, an armband with a Velcro-sealed mesh interior pocket for a key or a little cash, and a black and gray armband that looks a lot like XtremeMac’s, only smoother. The rubber case is clear frosted, with Gecko’s traditional diagonal textured grip lines, and lets your nano’s color shine through while making it a little easier to hold when your fingers are sweaty.
A couple of small points that aren’t obvious from the photographs are the armband’s length and comfort. It’s an inch or so shorter than the Apple and XtremeMac armbands, and shorter still than the Griffin one. This makes it better suited to small- and medium-armed users than ones with big biceps. Additionally, though the mesh key pocket feels completely unintrusive with a key inside, putting a big key in can stiffen the inside of the band a little around the pocket area—not a lot, unless the key is especially large.
The major problem with the Nano Sports Armband is its protectiveness: unlike the XtremeMac and Griffin designs, it makes no effort to cover the nano’s screen, controls, or bottom. When you take the nano off the armband, there are two slits in the case’s rear that expose it to potential scratch damage, as well. Because of sweat and rain concerns, we tend to take coverage of the iPod’s body even more seriously in armbands than we do in standard cases; by most measures, Gecko’s design is less suited for sweaty workouts than milder conditions. On the other hand, the open bottom is fully Nike + iPod Sport Kit-compatible, though again, not protective.
Are any of the armbands we’re looking at today worthy of their $30 asking prices? Yes: the SportWrap is best, followed by Streamline, and then the Gecko Nano Sports Armband. But with excellent alternatives such as Apple’s iPod nano Armband and Marware’s SportSuit Convertible out there—the latter offers a case with complete coverage, plus belt clip, handstrap, and armband—for the same price, it’s hard to see these options as being quite as superb. Consider them if something about Apple’s and Marware’s designs turns you off visually, or you have a need for slightly different tailoring on your armband.
Company and Price
Company: Gecko Gear
Model: Nano Sports Armband
Compatible: iPod nano (video)