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 Tunewear’s Icewear for iPod nano 4G and iPod touch 2G ($25 each).
Screen Protection. Icewear includes a film screen protector with each case.
The iPod nano version is cut just within the nano’s actual screen lines, and it’s the right general thickness, making it less susceptible to air bubbles than Marware’s and Sumajin’s covers; the iPod touch version is the right general size to cover the entire glass face save for the Home button, but is a little challenging to perfectly align because it reaches to the very edges of the glass.
Click Wheel and Button Protection. The nano version includes film to cover the Click Wheel save for the central action button; the iPod touch version does not cover the Home button, but uses play-through rubber for the side and top buttons.
Top Protection. The iPod nano version, like all of its competitors reviewed today, has a hole for the Hold switch; though we know that some company will find a way to provide coverage and usability of this switch, the hole is just the right size for those who feel that it’s necessary. Icewear for iPod touch completely covers the device’s top, though there are four total holes in the upper and lower back for attachment of a wrist strap or lanyard, neither of which is included. We would have preferred not to see these holes on the back at all; the nano version places them only at the lower bottom of the case.
Bottom Protection. Both Icewear cases have substantially open bottoms, permitting them to be used with Universal Docks and virtually all bottom-connecting accessories.
Style, Colors, and Bulk. As always, Icewear’s appeal isn’t in color options, but rather in distinctive side ribs that add grip and a sharp, professional look to what could otherwise be dull rubber.
In a welcome improvement from some past Icewear designs, Tunewear has shifted to a matte-finished rubber rather than the glossy ones favored in years past, eliminating the “wet” look and feel that made the iPhone version of Icewear sticky in a pocket. The cases become marginally thicker on the sides than in some competing products, but gain both very good looks and grip as a result. They’re certainly amongst the nicest-looking cases we’ve seen for both devices.
Other Pack-Ins. Neither case includes other pack-ins. However, Tunewear uses eco-conscious packaging that we really like; it eliminates the huge amount of excess packing material we seen in most cases and accessories, reducing the package to a nice bag that still shows off the case inside, and can be resealed for storage of the case at some later point.
Pricing and Conclusions. It’s rare that a case seems so expensive relative to its peers that it actually loses rating as a consequence, but for $25, the nano version of Icewear has jumped $12 from the version we reviewed and loved for the nearly identical second-generation nano—and that’s just too much.