At a time when virtually every iPod or iPhone case we receive has been done before, H2O Audio’s Capture for the fifth-generation iPod nano ($80) is different — at least, different enough that we felt that it deserved some extra discussion in a full review. Though the core of the Capture case is highly similar to H2O’s earlier iN3 for the iPod nano — a substantially clear and totally waterproof hard plastic shell with a rubber O-ring and a clamp centered on its top and sides — the novelty of Capture is its namesake feature: a recessed lens that enables the case to be used to record video underwater.
To provide a brief runthrough of the features that Capture carries over from H2O’s many prior cases: the front of the case includes the Commander, an outstanding mechanical overlay for the iPod nano’s Click Wheel that enables you to fully navigate and select content on the device while underwater, and the bottom includes a pass-through headphone port that’s compatible with all of H2O Audio’s now numerous waterproof headphones—we still recommend the original Surge as the best of the bunch. You also get a water-safe armband and a screwed-on, detachable belt clip, either of which can be used to attach the case to your clothing when you’re surfing, swimming, or skiing.
Using Capture is as simple as opening the top clasp, splitting the case in two at the bottom hinge, and connecting your nano to its pass-through headphone plug.
Splashes and even submersions of the case underwater resulted in zero obvious penetration of water; H2O rates the cases for 12-foot depths and we’ve not had a problem with any leakage. Amazingly, the fifth-generation nano not only plays its own music, videos, and games underwater, but can even access its FM radio while submerged, a cool little trick for those who want to hear live broadcasts while swimming or showering.
Where Capture becomes really interesting is in its support for video recording. The recessed clear plastic lens area has been sculpted nicely to let the fifth-generation nano peer through without obvious distortion, and even does a nice job of letting splashes of water dance off rather than accumulate and block the lens. Consequently, you can actually capture entirely usable video underwater, and if you play around with the nano’s integrated filters and various fluid dynamics, you can make some seriously trippy videos that would be impossible to safely capture with an unprotected nano.
Given the cost of plastic housings for still and video cameras, Capture—which is pretty expensive by typical iPod case standards at $80—is arguably the best value around for an underwater video camera; we noted how quickly videos can be created with the case in this article.
The only issue some users may have with the case is in the audio department. Pass-through of the nano’s outbound audio is problem-free with a pair of H2O earphones, inefficient though some may be, but recording of audio while in the case is decidedly limited. With Capture on, the nano’s protected microphone captures little more than what it hears inside the case—generally nothing—and an inch or two outside. That’s enough to pick up the sound of rain or a showerhead directly splashing on the case, a voice that’s very near the case, or a similarly waterproof underwater speaker, but not much more.