It’s not difficult to make a good iPod armband. But certain companies are decidedly better than others, especially when dealing with the iPod nano, as the most recent crop of armband accessories demonstrates. Today, we look briefly at new options from Capdase, CoverCase, Nike, and Speck; this review covers Speck’s new ActiveFit ($30), which is described as a “sporty, comfortable armband for iPod nano.”
Basically, ActiveFit is a slight rethinking of Speck’s earlier ActiveSport armbands for iPods and nanos, and by slight, there’s really only one twist—literally. ActiveFit is the first iPod armband we can recall that actually mounts the nano on an off-axis angle rather than straight on, making a nice fashion statement in the process. The new design covers the entire nano save for its bottom headphone port, Hold switch, and part of the Dock Connector, using a soft mesh fabric, neoprene and rubber to keep your arm comfortable inside.
The good news is that ActiveFit looks different, and pretty cool, when compared to other iPod nano armbands out there. Apple and Nike went for “neutral” with their armbands, giving you the choice of plain gray or gray-spotted black. Speck’s design, like ActiveSport, is a mix of white, light reflective gray, and dark gray, with white mesh surrounded by gray fabric piping and matching gray Velcro. Your nano rests on an “active” angle, and a Velcro tab holds it inside of a clear glossy plastic and neoprene sheathe, not detachable from the armband. In photos and in person, it just looks cool, and most of the iPod nano’s body is covered by the untraditional case design.
Practically speaking, having the nano on an angle isn’t a major pro or con. Initially, we found that it was a little trickier to mount and see on your arm, but that feeling went away after a short period of use; however, because the Click Wheel is actually obscured a bit by the case’s edging, navigation is slightly less than perfect. Both the headphone port and Hold switch are fully exposed to sweat and the elements, and the Velcro tab can be opened safely if the armband is upside down, letting you connect a Nike + iPod Sport Kit, though the bottom surface will be fully unprotected if you do.
On the flip side, Speck’s generally done a good job with the armband. It’s soft and comfortable on the arm, and Speck uses a clear rubberized Speck Logo on the inside of the band to keep it in place on your arm even when it’s moist. The only issue large-armed users will have is its 16-inch length, which is a little shorter than Apple’s armband, but still appropriately sized for all save the largest biceps.
Given that it sells for roughly the same price as the other major competitors out there, but is a little harder to use because of the impeded Click Wheel, ActiveFit isn’t a breakthrough armband, but it’s still a very good one. If you’re looking for something that will stand out in a positive way visually from other nano armbands we’ve previously reviewed, this should be on your short list.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod nano (video)