Gadgetorama reviews the iPod nano Aluminum Case from Proporta Music

 

Introduction

I had barely finished the review of the iPod nano Aluminum-lined Leather Case that Proporta Music announced that they had released their Aluminum case for the iPod nano and that I simply had to check it out. Knowing that there was already a pile of reviews to do, I hesitated. But not too long; their excitement over this case was contagious and curiousity got the better of me.

The Case

The case showed up in a simple plastic blister pack. Inside the case is a white iPod cardboard image that immediately gives you an idea of what your iPod in its new case will look like (Figure 1) and a lanyard.

Aluminum case package
Figure 1: The Proporta Aluminum case arrives

Case and lanyard
Figure 2: Open but empty case and lanyard

The case is made of aircraft grade aluminium with an anodised finish. The inside of the case is lined with soft neoprene foam to protect the nano. On the front, there is a plastic window to let you see the nano’s screen. The click wheel is exposed through a cut-out. The case also features a cutout for the lock button and the bottom is pretty much open to provide easy access to both the dock connector and headphone jack.

Unlike the aluminum-lined leather case, this case has its hinge on the right side. The locking clasp that keeps the case closed is on the left side (Figure 2).

The case also comes with a plastic-sheathed silver lanyard so that you can wear the case around your neck. The lanyard attaches to the case through two semi-circular holes at the back of the case (You can see them near the bottom on the left in Figure 2).

If black is not your colour, the Proporta aluminum case is also available in silver.

Using the Case

When you put the nano inside the case the first time, you will notice that it’s a snug fit. You will need to press the nano into the case as the sides act as clasps. No excessive force is needed but it is reassuring to know that the nano is tightly held by the case. Your nano will definitely not rattle around in this case. The neoprene lining ensures that there is no metal on metal contact and provides some degree of shock resistance.

To open the case, you simply push the clasp up while holding the case. The clasp is strong enough that there is no risk of it popping open accidentally but it also does not require a feat of strength to open the case. The case closes with a satisfying soft click. One concern I had about the clasp was that it might catch on things (eg, when you’re pulling it out of a pocket) as it juts out enough but I never experienced any such issue with shirt pockets, coat pockets and jeans back pockets.

Compared to the Proporta aluminum-lined leather case, this case adds significantly less bulk. You realize how thin the nano is when I say what I just said about a case that nearly doubles the thickness of the nano. The aluminum case is 11mm thick (compare that to about 21 mm for the leather case and only 6mm for the nano alone).

In terms of weight, the aluminum case weighs about half of what the leather case does (25 grams to 50 grams approximately). The nano itself weighs under 50 grams. It is so light that any accessory will have a significant impact in terms of weight! Personally, even at about 75 grams, the nano and aluminum case are still extremely light and it is far too easy to forget that you are carrying them with you (especially lost in a coat pocket).

Using your nano with this case is simple. As the click wheel is always exposed, the case does not interfere with operation at all. Combine that with the fact that the case has a window to let you see the nano’s display and there is simply no need to open the case to operate your nano. If you’re always fiddling with your play lists, fast forwarding songs or adjusting volume, this case has a tremendous advantage over cases that require that you open them up to operate your nano.

The case window offers little distortion of the nano’s screen. For example, I did not feel that I had to pull open the case when showing the pictures that I have stored on my nano.

Aluminum case package
Figure 3: Apple iPod in the Proporta Aluminum case

Case and lanyard
Figure 4: All set to go

Unfortunately, having the click wheel exposed also means that it is now sporting some new scratches after a month of use in the case. The case window is also showing signs of wear and tear. In both cases, I suspect that the likely culprit is that I sometimes carry my nano and cell phone in the same coat pocket. Other than that, the case looks great and as good as new. A close look at the matte finish of the case shows no scratches or other wounds and also reveals that it’s quite good at not showing dust, fingerprints and smudges.

Coming back to the scratched up click wheel, I know that there are cases out there that protect the click wheel with a membrane. I suspect that the additional protection comes at the cost of the click wheel being a little harder to use. Ultimately, you will need to take this into consideration. If you’re generally good to your nano, maybe you don’t need the membrane. If you treat it a little more roughly, then perhaps it makes sense to look at a case that protect the click wheel.

The case also impressed me the couple of times that I dropped my nano (not deliberately mind you). Neither the case nor the nano show any sign of abuse.

Other Features

As indicated above, the case comes with a lanyard. The way it attaches to the case, the nano will hang upside down. When you wear it, simply tilt it towards your face to see the display.

I found the cutouts on the case more generous than they needed to be. For example, the cutout for the hold button is wide enough to expose the word hold engraved next to the button itself. I don’t think that this is really necessary. The bottom is also nearly completely exposed by a single cutout that gives access to the headphone jack as well as the dock connector. In this case, I don’t think that Proporta could have done much better than they have done except to maybe provide a way to provide the port when it is not in use.

Wearing the iPod around my neck proved quite comfortable. The case and nano are so light that it’s easy to forget that they are even there! But I found myself removing the lanyard after a few days: Wearing my iPod around my neck is just not for me. This is a personal preference but I found myself missing the belt clip.

What I liked

  • Full access to click wheel without having to open case
  • Plastic screen lets you see nano display
  • Case shows no signs of being dropped a few times

What I did not like

  • Lack of belt clip option
  • Lack of protection for the click wheel and dock connector
  • Scratched up window after a month of use

Summary

I’m glad that I let myself be swayed to review this case. Proporta has another winner on its hands! There is no avoiding the fact that any case will add bulk to your iPod nano, but this case keeps the new bulk to a strict minimum. But it still delivers enough protection that your nano will survive accidental falls to the floor with nary a scratch.

The fact that you have complete control of your nano without opening the case is a huge plus. Unfortunately it does come with a cost as the click wheel is exposed. More unfortunate is the fact that the plastic window is prone to scratches. But I still prefer to see my case take the beating on behalf of the nano.

There is no question that I will continue to use this case in the future. It is a great when you want to slip your nano in a coat or back pocket.

Rating

4 out of 5

Where can I get it?

You can purchase the iPod nano for $34.95 USD directly from Proporta Music. A silver version is also available.