Since Marware first introduced the cord-managing Sidewinder series of cases for iPods and iPod nanos almost two years ago, we’ve watched the company update the design in good and not-so-good ways. The most recent edition for the third-generation iPod nano, called Marware Sidewinder for 3G iPod nano ($25), is thankfully one of the good ones, preserving features innovated in the second-generation nano iteration of the case, and pricing established in both prior nano models.
All of the iPod nano versions of Sidewinder have used essentially the same formula: a hard plastic shell with a slide-out piece of plastic to let you wrap your headphones for easier storage, plus a detachable rear belt clip. Whereas the first-generation nano version of the case exposed the nano’s whole top, the second-generation case sealed it in, and the third-generation case does the same; Marware uses a removable clear plastic top piece to hold the nano inside, versus the second-generation version’s pop-open bottom.
The only other functional changes are the company’s inclusion of both screen and Click Wheel protectors, along with a cleaning cloth for your nano, and the new case’s rear clip.
The familiar nub uses the Multidapt standard and strong-grip adhesive if you want to attach it; however, the clip is a little smaller than the ones that were found on past Sidewinders. Together, these parts detract little from the case’s functionality, and add to its protectiveness relative to its peers—smart compromises all around.
That’s not to say that the case is completely protective or functional. Like almost all of its peers, except for rubber-bottomed shells such as Contour Design’s iSee, Sidewinder exposes almost all of the nano’s bottom. This makes the case Universal Dock compatible, but surprisingly, Marware’s hard shell wasn’t tapered for use with oversized headphone or Dock Connectors, so you may find that oversized headphones and non-Universal Dock large bottom-mounting Dock Connecting accessories don’t fit inside.
Slightly less or better-tapered plastic on the case’s bottom would have eliminated this issue.
A less important step down in the new Sidewinder is Marware’s decision to go with its least colorful plastic shell to date: the original version came in white or black, while the second version was in 2G nano-matching colors with clear fronts, and the third is now entirely clear plastic, letting the 3G nano’s colors speak for themselves. We can’t really say that this is a negative for most iPod nano owners, as it frees Marware and its customers from having to try to precisely match Apple’s ever-evolving color lineup, but it does make the cases that much more like the very many fully clear cases out there.
It’s hard to imagine that this would be a major deterrent to anyone’s interest in Sidewinder. Given that the case sells for $25 and includes the namesake cord managing feature, which makes the case only a little thicker than options without it, though not more expensive than ones that similarly include belt clips, Sidewinder is almost a no-brainer option on protection and features relative to $20 peers, and generally superior to $25 alternatives we’ve tested, as well. Its only omissions are on its bottom, and in its lack of color-shifting shell options, but this is otherwise a very well-made and highly recommendable case for the video-ready iPod nano.