Silicone rubber cases were all but commoditized years ago, and it has become harder for new versions to stand out from the pack. Today, we’re reviewing nine different rubber cases for three different Apple devices: the fourth-generation iPod nano, second-generation iPod touch, and iPhone 3G. This comparative review looks at DLO’s Jam Jacket Rugged ($20), PDO’s TopSkin ($15), and SwitchEasy’s Colors ($13) cases for the fourth-generation nano.
As with virtually all of the nano cases we’ve tested, these three cases have a lot in common. They all cover the entire back and sides of the nano, with at least partial top and front coverage, and initially minimal bottom coverage; by default, they all leave the nano’s bottom almost entirely open for connection to accessories, and also expose the screen and Click Wheel.
However, packed-in items compensate for some of these omissions: DLO includes film to cover the nano’s screen, PDO includes screen and Click Wheel film, plus an inexpensive-looking wrist strap, and SwitchEasy goes further, with both film and hard plastic screen covers, film Click Wheel covers, a cleaning cloth for application, and a rubber Dock Connector port protector. What’s notable about these pack-ins is that they’re offered in increasing disproportion to the prices of these cases: SwitchEasy’s Colors is the cheapest but most protective, while TopSkin is in the middle of the pack, and Jam Jacket is the most expensive with the least coverage.
Each case has a little something to offer that’s different from its competitors. Jam Jacket Rugged is a grippy black rubber case with seven ribs on each of its sides, and depressions in its back, thickening the nano while removing its dull knife-like sides. It’s the thickest of the bunch, and arguably the easiest to hold. TopSkin by contrast is a more plain design, and thinner, but has nice microtextured rear stripes of dots for added grip, and comes in four colors. It’s the only case to cover the nano’s top Hold switch while leaving it usable—a feature we really like—though it’s offset by two little holes in the rear bottom left for the included handstrap.
Colors is the most interesting case of the bunch, not because of its highly plain design—Click Wheel tapering is its only design feature—but because of the sheer variety of colors offered by SwitchEasy. There are 10 regular cases called SwitchEasy Colors, and one called Colors Stealth, the latter black with a smoke black screen protector, and the rest white, clear, or colored with clear screen protectors. The colors either match or approach the color of the nano’s body, save for Apple’s silver, which isn’t offered, and a brown case, which doesn’t match any nano model.
Though it’s hard to go wrong with any of these cases, it’s easiest to go right with Colors or Colors Stealth. SwitchEasy’s price is the lowest out there, and this case design offers more protection than any of its peers, as well as the widest array of color options. Though it doesn’t include as many frills as the company’s hard plastic CapsuleThins, it’s less expensive, and equally deserving of our high recommendation. By comparison, PDO’s TopSkin comes in fewer colors, but offers similarly excellent protection at a very close price, adding a wrist strap that doesn’t appeal to us but might appeal to some users. Finally, DLO’s Jam Jacket Rugged is the most expensive of the bunch, with the least surface coverage, but the thickest skin and most grip. We’d rate it a step or so below the others, but it’s still a good case.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPod nano 4G