Thursday, March 22, 2012

iPod Nano

My wife got me an iPod nano a few years ago. She jokes that I would have it implanted if I could.

So it was a huge disappointment when it stopped working. It just would not turn on any longer.
Lucky me, Apple had issued a recall of the first generation iPod nano.
Every thread I read online about the replacements expressed disappointment that they were replacing the faulty nanos with old first generation nanos.
I seem to be the "lucky" one then, because after having my nano for a month Apple finally sent me a new one - a 6th generation (with an apology for having run out of 1st generation iPods).

I've had it for about two weeks now so here's my pros and cons lists as a comparison to the 1st generation.

6th generation Pros:
* smaller. It may not seem a big deal, but at less than half the size it's actually much more versatile, easy to tuck in a pocket and feels better in the hand.

* built in belt-clip. I kept the old one on a string around my neck, until the case broke. Then I got a strap for my arm for jogging with it on, but that interfered with my ability to adjust volume or switch between programs. The belt clip is built-in so I don't have to shop for an after-market extra that is one more thing to lose or break, and I always have the option of clipping the nano to my clothes.

* pedometer. This makes the belt clip even more nifty. Now even if I'm not listening to my iPod I am using it and this is such a clearly beneficial function I am thrilled.

* volume buttons. This is a nice improvement. The wheel controller on the first generation worked fine for controlling volume but because it was multi-functional, sometimes when I wanted to change the volume I would accidentally switch programs or fast-forward or make some other annoying adjustment that would require my focus to fix. The simple, single-function buttons mean I can adjust volume without thinking.

* continuous play. I hardly have any music on my nano. Mostly I listen to podcasts. The first generation nano required me to hand pick the next podcast to play after one ended. I could set it to random shuffle music and some podcasts were somehow classed as music so I could get through a few that way, but I could not download a string of podcasts and play them in sequence. Now I can. This matters most now because I'm catching up on the month I missed. But it also is useful with the Onion Radio News and Scientific American's 60 Second Science. Both are roughly 1 minute long and it was a real pain to go through the menu every minute to pick a new podcast. Now I can select "60 Second Science" and it will automatically play all of the episodes I have not yet heard, in sequence.

* double speed. There is a setting that increases the speed of what I'm playing. It certainly alters the character of music (Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics is actually pretty good sped up), but I can get through more podcasts faster, without missing anything, by increasing the speed.

* radio. My biggest complaint about the first generation was actually that it did not have a radio. (Neither did my portable CD player). Those portable radios you could get to clip on your belt were terrible. Sound quality was bad and reception worse. The nano has a radio and the sound quality is clear and the reception sharp.

6th generation Cons: (it's not all good)
* pause. In my first generation nano, if I was listening to something and wanted to pause, if for example someone started talking to me, then I just clicked the center of the wheel. Bam: nano's off. With the 6th generation if I am listening and want to pause I have to hit the screen activation button, wait a second for the screen to fire up, then tap the screen right in the center. If I hit a little to one side or the other, instead of pausing it jumps to the prior or subsequent podcast and plays that.

* fast forward and rewind. The click wheel was very good at zipping forward or backward inside a program. Spin the wheel slowly and you slowly move, forward or backward as you choose. Want to jump further? Spin the wheel faster. The 6th generation handles fast forward and reverse through a scroll bar on the bottom of the touch screen, so if I miss something and want to back up a bit I have to activate the touch screen, wait, drag the screen over a page or two, touch exactly where the marker is on the scroll bar, then move my finger a tiny amount (possibly a fraction of a millimeter) backwards. Because of the size of the screen it is virtually impossible to backtrack or fast forward a short amount. I usually end up fiddling with it back and forth several times to get the 30 seconds back I wanted instead of jumping 5 minutes at a time.

* Solitaire. The first generation nano had solitaire and a couple other games that weren't as much fun. I liked being able to play solitaire while on the train etc. It's not a huge deal but annoying that they didn't include it when it should not have been that hard to do.

* clock. I thought this would be a pro but it's a con. The first generation had a setting where I could put the time on the top of the screen. The 6th generation has a very cool selection of clock faces you can use to make it into an attractive watch, but you can't have that display while listening to podcasts. The podcast screen is just a still of the podcast's title graphic. You can't superimpose the time. So the clock is a pretty function but one you can only use when you are not actually using your iPod for anything else.

It's taking some adjusting, but overall I am pleased with the replacement. Most of all though, I'm just happy to be able to hear my shows again.

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