It’s a tradition: every new iPod quickly winds up with a large assortment of new silicone rubber cases, and the fourth-generation iPod nano is no exception. Today, we’re reviewing nine new rubber nano cases from seven different companies — as well as a few related second-generation iPod touch cases from the same companies — picking the great, good, and OK options from the collection. As all of the cases cover the nano’s sides and back, we’re going to focus largely on key differentiators in other aspects of their protection, style, and pricing. This review covers Marware’s Sport Grip ($15) and Sport Grip Deluxe ($25) for iPod nano.
Screen Protection. Both of the Sport Grip cases come with one precisely fit film screen cover that you may find a little challenging to install because it’s so tightly matched to the nano’s screen dimensions. With the nano’s screen turned on, you won’t notice it’s there.
Click Wheel and Button Protection. As with most earlier Marware nano cases, both Sport Grips come with a clear film Click Wheel cover that works equally well on the 1.0 and 1.0.2 (and newer) iPod nano Click Wheels—there’s no added sensitivity issue. As with the screen cover, there is a slight “wet” look because of the gloss of the film as it attaches to the metallic center button, but you can leave the separate button cover off if you prefer to do so.
Top Protection. Both cases, like all of their competitors reviewed today, have holes for the Hold switch. While easy to use, these holes are a bit too generously cut, exposing more of the nano’s top than is necessary.
Bottom Protection. Sport Grip’s unique bottom design uses a complete Dock Connector cover that opens like lips to provide accessory compatibility, while leaving the headphone port open at all times. Though easy to use with most cables, and more protective than virtually all of the nano cases we’ve seen, this design creates compatibility problems for Universal Docks.
Style, Colors, and Bulk. The basic Sport Grip features stylish dotted sides for extra grip, which we really liked, and comes in three colors—white, black, and clear. Sport Grip Deluxe comes in white, black, pink, and green versions, resculpting the straight side lines of the original rubber into a bone shape, and adding a second accent color on the back for decorative dots. We preferred the basic design, which isn’t as bulky, but the Deluxe version is nice, too.
Other Pack-Ins. Both cases come with a cleaning cloth for the screen. Deluxe adds a soft lanyard necklace and a unique, spring-loaded circular hook to the package, both attachable with an included fabric loop to holes on the bottom back of the case. Marware’s earliest shipment had these holes sealed—a pin could open them easily—but subsequent ones are shipped open for connection. We like the hook quite a bit—it’s the first we’ve seen in a while to get past the traditional carabiner shape.
Pricing. In past years, Marware’s Sport Grips for iPod nano sold for $10 each, which we thought was an outstanding value for the dollar, but this year, the price has gone up to $15 for the base model, with the more deluxe version at $25. Though normally this price jump would have dropped the standard model’s rating down a little, we actively like this design enough that we think it’s worthy of the $15 asking price, and it retains our A- rating. Deluxe, by comparison, seems a little overpriced and not as great of a value; we’d call it a flat B. Consider it over the standard model only if you really need the lanyard and hook.
Sport Grip Deluxe
Company and Price
Model: Sport Grip, Deluxe
Compatible: iPod nano 4G, iPod touch 2G