In the early days of iPod cases, hard plastic was far from the most common available material: developers found it hard to precisely match Apple’s curves, and used softer fabric and rubber designs instead. Today, thanks to sophisticated 3-D modeling and molding techniques, iPods and iPhones alike are routinely encased in shells made mostly from hard plastics. We’re briefly reviewing seven very different options today for the iPod nano, classic, touch, and iPhone 3G, and if you read all of their reviews, you’ll see that there are huge differences in their approaches to protection and value for the dollar. This review covers Speck’s SeeThru for iPod nano 4G ($25).
Speck’s SeeThru cases are always interesting, and this year’s version is no exception: there are six different colors, each a translucent plastic shell with a transparent plastic screen protector, opaque rubber side bumpers, and a black detachable combination cord manager and video stand. A plastic piece comes off the top of the SeeThru to let you insert the fourth-generation nano, which slides easily into the shell; you then replace the plastic piece to seal the case shut.
If you’re interested in using the case with the nano by itself, you can; the case’s substantially open bottom has a lip to keep the nano inside. Due to the design of this lip, you’re able to use even oversized headphone plugs and virtually any bottom-mounting accessory with the nano, including Universal Docks, though you’ll find the nano’s bottom to be pretty much open to dust and pocket lint in the process. Otherwise, you can attach the rubber piece to the bottom of the case for both cord management and additional coverage; a hole is large enough for Apple’s and similarly thin headphone plugs to connect even when the rubber plug is attached.
Video stands are tricky but useful items for companies to include with iPod cases, and Speck’s design is novel and generally quite handy. The rubber bottom plug divides in half to form a gap that the SeeThru-encased nano fits in, reclining gently but usably inside. It interferes only the slightest bit with the screen and controls—certainly not enough to bother most users—while letting the nano rest in horizontal orientation. It’s a nice idea and fine pack-in.
Speck’s color choices deserve a brief note, as well. While the clear version of SeeThru provides any iPod nano user with a chance to see their chosen color peek through, the green, pink, red, and purple versions are not exact matches for Apple’s colors; similarly, the black version is a typical glossy black and darkens anything that goes inside. Each of the cases has a transparent screen cover, though, so unlike some past cases, you don’t need to worry about tinting your videos or games. We applaud Speck for offering more than just one or two colors here.
As the price for SeeThru strikes us as generally reasonable given the case’s clean design, color options, and nice pack-in, the only thing that’s really missing here is Click Wheel coverage. Many other companies—notably SwitchEasy, with its CapsuleThins—include film protectors with cases sold at this or lower prices; this omission is really the only reason that some users might prefer to look elsewhere.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod nano 4G