Review: Griffin’s iWatch Slap case (and some thoughts on iWatches)

With the holidays over, and all the extra cash sitting around, we thought it’d be a good time to publish our Griffin Slap case review. The concept of an iWatch has been around since the iPhone was announced at the very least. Since Apple’s recently been in the business of making their iPods smaller and thinner, the masses of Apple geeks have been calling for an iWatch. Although Apple hasn’t officially announced an iWatch, the latest iPod nano certainly fits the bill.

When Steve Jobs stood on stage during the September keynote and announced the new iOS based iPod nano, joking about it being worn as a watch, an entire cottage industry sprung up overnight. A Kickstarter campaign raised just under a million dollars to start an iWatch project, and a bunch of other companies raced to the drawing board to create the best iWatch case. Griffin was amongst the first to reveal a product. Their Slap case took yesterday’s technology, the slap bracelet, and turned it into an iPod nano case.

The Slap case is available in the traditional iPod mini and nano colors that have been available over the years, and it’s available for $23.99. At that price point the case is affordable and worth trying out.

The Slap case is made from metal and silicon and seems sturdy enough to have a long shelf-life. Getting the iPod nano into the device is tricky. There’s a plastic lining inside of the case that holds your iPod nano firmly in place. It took me a couple of attempts at placing the iPod nano before I realize that I wasn’t actually breaking the clasps as I pushed the nano in and out of place. The nano is firmly held in place, so you don’t have to worry about your iPod falling to its demise. That being said, it’s actually pretty difficult to get the nano out in the first place.

Having piece of mind is priceless, and being able to go about your day without worrying that you’re going to lose your iPod nano is a must. I never once found myself worrying about losing the “iWatch” at any point. When the iPod nano is in place, it isn’t going anywhere, which leads me to my next point. The only way to connect your iPod nano to iTunes is to remove it from the case. That’s a lot of fiddling over the course of the week if you’re a music junky. While the clasps that hold it in place are still working admirably, I found myself wondering how long the case would last after prolonged usage.

Another downside that came up quite often was in the “fit” department. I have some pretty puny wrists, and the watch seemed to slide around quite a bit. My wrists aren’t pencil thin by any measurement, and the watch didn’t jump up and down my arm, but when rotating my arm to check the time, I often found myself manually adjusting the face of the iWatch so I could see the screen.

I’m also not much of a “watch” guy for this reason. I rarely wear watches, and often feel that I have limited mobility when I wear one, so I could be a little biased when it comes to usage patterns.

Thoughts on the iWatch: Sometimes you feel badass, other times like a giant nerd

I’ve never owned a product in my life that made me feel extremely badass at one moment and an absolute nerd at other times. Some would say that that would be a commentary on my psychological state when I’m out and about, but I’d argue that it has more to do with the size of the watch. For an entire week I wore the watch, and it felt fine under a jacket. I managed to rig up a headphone extension that ran up my jacket sleeve, and it worked really well. The iWatch is an optimal travel companion. If you ride the bus or walk to work, the iWatch makes a nice companion. It’s during those times that I felt like a complete badass. But once I took off my coat, it was all nerd.

The face of the watch is quite large when using the Slap case. I rarely had a sweater or shirt that would appropriately hide the watch. Instead, the iWatch became a bit of a “fashion” accessory, always on display, always the object of discussion. If you like oversized watches to begin with, then this probably won’t make much of a difference for you, but for me, I prefer a watch that fits underneath my shirt cuff.

The downside of an iWatch

During the colder months of the year, hiding your headphone cords in the sleeve of a sweater or jacket is an option. You could probably even get away with exercising and listening to music on your iWatch quite effectively as long a your headphone extension is tied down and has enough slack for your movements, but once spring and summer rolls around, using an iWatch as you exercise is going to be a problem. The problem lies outside of the “watch” case maker’s hands, and falls directly into Apple’s hands. If the iPad nano was ever mentioned as a watch in Cupertino before release, it would be hard to imagine a conversation coming up without someone mentioning the lack of Bluetooth on the device. Being able to use Bluetooth headphones with the iPod nano would have easily set this device apart even further.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t mind bulky watches then the Slap case won’t be a problem, and it’s easily worth the $24 that it costs. If you have small wrists, or prefer your watches hide underneath a shirt cuff, you might want to pass or wait for another alternative to surface. The iWatch might be more of a reality than Apple had hoped for. It easy to see that an iPod strapped to your wrist could provide a plethora of utility.  The iPod nano already ships with Nike+, so you have access to a pedometer already. If Apple ever decides to open up the OS to developers, the iPod nano could become a handy medical tool when paired with a watch strap or bracelet.  Could you imagine a watch that not only plays music, but also measures your vitals? A lot of health care professionals would be pretty excited about that.

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