Review: Capsule Accessory System for iPod Nano

A colorful bright plastic case for the iPod nano (December 22nd, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: SwitchEasy Limited

Price: MSRP $19.99 USD or $19.99 Eur

The Good

  • Clean-looking plastic with nice color choices. Good all-around light weight protection. Stickies Click Wheel guard functions well and offers good protection.

The Bad

  • No dock-connector opening. Face is not as seamless as the rest of the case. Lanyard impossible to insert without sewing kit.

Perhaps the idea of a case for the iPod nano is itself flawed. After all, the greatest aspect of the nano is its near-flawless design, with its lightweight and low-tolerance seams. If you own a nano, then I don't have to tell you that it scratches easily, so the primary goal of a case should be to protect it from scratches. The cover should also retain the thinness and weight as much as possible.

A Close Look at the Capsule

The Capsule from Switcheasy does protect every inch of the nano. It is essentially a two-piece plastic enclosure with an opening for the Click Wheel. To protect the wheel, Switcheasy includes a Stickies-like wheel guard, that is a glorified colorform static-cling sticker with no adhesive, so it grips the wheel nicely while still allowing you to use it properly. The Capsule comes in five bright plastic colors, with a top portion that is transparent and a bottom portion that is opaque. A color-coordinated lanyard is also shipped with each case. Unfortunately the lanyard is ridiculously difficult to insert into its eyehole. The instructions actually tell you to "stick a needle into the hole and fish out the thread." Can you think of an easier way to scratch your iPod?

The Capsule is a lightweight device, not too thick, and the plastic feels very sturdy. Switcheasy says it is made from an ultra tough GE LEXAN plastic resin. At the bottom, there is an opening for the headphones, but that is all the access you will have. There is no way to charge or sync the nano in the case, and no way to access the hold switch without opening the case.

Using the Capsule

Fitting the nano into the Capsule is worrisome. It is a tight slide into uncovered plastic. Strangely, angling the nano in, bottom edge first, does not allow it to sit flush with the plastics, so you must remember to slide it in top-end first, then the bottom edge sits nicely. The plastic inside is not perfectly smooth, so with no padding, I wonder if long-term use would produce pattern-scratches on the nano.

The top inserts at three points into the bottom with small plastic clips. These clips are the worst part of the design, because the grooves that hold them in place are clearly visible, breaking the smooth line of the nano and the case. From the side and the back, it is a beautiful piece, but head-on, it loses something when you can see how the top is attached.

The Capsule case is the first offering of a nano system, but Switcheasy offered no details as to what other accessories will be available later. There were only vague hints that other color combinations would be available. You can see the wheel covers and case color pairings in the graphics above or on Switcheasy's site.

I would trust the Capsule, but I don't think it could be my regular, or my only case. If I have to take the nano out every time I want to charge or sync, I'm risking scratching constantly, which is the whole point of an all-enclosed case. Of course, the irony is that if I leave it in a case for its whole life, I won't be able to enjoy the unscratched surface anyway.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Philip Berne


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