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). In this review, we also briefly cover Griffin’s iClear for iPod classic, which has the same $20 price and same general features as the iPod nano version.
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.
Griffin’s iClear is basically the same case with three differences: its sides are held together with two long clips rather than four short ones, its back is made from frosted clear plastic instead of completely transparent material, and its bottom is compatible with all Dock Connecting iPod accessories, regardless of size. It costs the same price as Shell and provides the same amount of protection.
A version for the iPod classic is also available; other than size, the only differences are that it comes with rear shells that fit either the 80GB or 160GB iPod, and in addition to a completely open bottom, has additional holes for the classic’s top Hold switch and headphone port, again sized generously for compatibility with oversized headphones.
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: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPod classic, nano (video)