Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Apple iPod Nano - 2 GB model

It was only a matter of time before I finally got on the iPod bandwagon. Sure I have had MP3 players before, even the larger, hard-drive based ones. However, I had been wondering about the iPod ever since they first came out a few years ago.

So I started dropping hints before Christmas and thankfully, underneath our Christmas Tree was the black, 2-gigabyte, iPod Nano. It was impossibly small, sleek and just so darn cute for an MP3 player.

The Nano makes the Dell DJ that I’ve got look and feel like a giant.

Why did I want a Nano? Besides wanting to finally get in on everything iPod, I was looking for an MP3 player that held a significant amount of music, but that I could use just for going to the gym. I had found the Dell DJ to be a bit bulky and I hated having to deal with playlists and such to separate the ‘gym’ music from my other songs.

About the iPod Nano

The first thing you realize about the Nano is just how small it is - even the box for it seems small.

In the box…
This was my first Apple product purchase and I was honestly amazed at the simplicity and the ease of starting to use one of their products is. Everything you need for your Nano is in the box:
- The Nano itself
- The trademark iPod headphones
- USB 2.0 cable to connect the Nano to your computer
- A docking adapter for the Nano
- A slip-on case for the Nano
- Quick start guide for the Nano
- CD with iTunes for a MAC or Windows machine and a guide to the Nano

Setting up your Nano
You start with the quick start guide and within a few minutes, you’ll have your iPod Nano connected to your computer, iTunes on its way to being installed and within about 20 minutes, you’ll be putting together playlists and transferring files to your Nano.

Really, setting up the Nano is easy and straightforward – even if you’ve never used an MP3 player before.

Make sure you start by reading the quick-start guide, which will have you install iTunes on your computer and will have you connect your Nano. Any required updates will be downloaded and installed and any music already on your system will be scanned and cataloged for iTunes to use. At that point you can start putting music on your Nano or you can start buying music through iTunes or adding your own by ripping music CDs.

Size and Shape
The Nano is about 3.5 inches long and only a bit over 1.5 inches wide. It’s very thin, probably around a quarter of inch and it only weighs a few ounces. You can honestly forget you’re carrying it if you have it in your pocket.

It features a 1.5-inch color screen, which can display album information, cover-art and photographs should you have them on your iPod. For me – I’ve just stuck to the typical navigation and album information – I’m not terribly interesting in seeing cover-art or carrying photographs with me. The screen is really too small to be using it to show off photographs to other people or even just review your own photos.

The front of the Nano is a shiny black, while the back is stainless steel (which if you order direct from Apple, you can have engraved with your name).

Like all the iPods (except for the shuffle), the Nano features a click wheel for navigation. It’s easy to fast-forward, rewind, play and access menus – though it does take some getting used to if you’ve never used it before. I had tried to start using the Nano before I had fully gone through quick-start guide and out of everything, figuring out the navigation was the only portion of setting up my Nano that I had a bit of difficulty with. Though after a few minutes of playing around and reading up on the navigation, I discovered just how intuitive the navigation system is and how easy it is to use.

Getting around inside your Nano is easy – the click wheel makes it fairly simply to quickly navigate around the various menus within the Nano. It will take a little getting used to if you’ve never used it before (it did for me), but with some practice, you’ll soon be moving around those menus with no effort.

The menus allow you to search for music or photographs, browse playlists and songs, shuffle and play your music and modify various settings on the Nano. Volume is adjusted by running your finger along the touch-sensitive portion of the click wheel.

Battery Life
Apple advertises that the Nano, on a full-charge can play music for about 14 hours. I’ve found that claim to be fairly truthful – though I’ve never kept it going for 14 hours straight. Instead I’ve used it for an hour or so on the days I’ve gone to the gym and gone for almost two weeks without charging it.

The Nano has a non-replaceable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It takes about an hour to charge the battery 80% and only three hours to fully-charge the battery. As with all rechargeable – this battery will eventually begin to lose battery life with each charge (so in time, you won’t get 14 hours worth of play on a charge, it’ll keep shrinking). When it gets to the point that it won’t hold the charge anymore, Apple, for a fee is willing to replace the battery. Though I figure by the time I get to that point – I’ll be ready for a new MP3 player and I’m sure Apple will have something even cooler out at that point.

I’ve never been a fan of the earbud type headphones. They always fall out of my ear when I’m doing anything other than sitting still, but I figured I’d try the nano with the supplied headphones for a bit and see if Apple had solved the problem of them falling out of my ear.

They didn’t – but I had to admit that they were, for included headphones, quite good. They provided clean sounding music that sounded good throughout the volume spectrum. I’ve never been terribly picky about how my music sounds – but overall it was better than the sound from my Dell DJ.

When I switched to my older Sony headphones that clip around my ears – the sound was almost as good, which is a testament to the sound quality coming out of the iPod Nano. It also depends on the quality of the MP3 music file you are playing – the better quality of the file, the better the output sound is going to be.

I’ve also had a chance to hook the Nano up to my car stereo via the cassette adapter that I have. There’s definitely a loss in quality, but that’s to be expected with anything using a cassette adapter – but once again – the Nano provides better overall sound than my Dell DJ does when it comes to my car stereo.

Will the Nano replace your home stereo? No, but it does provide really good sound for such a small package, especially when you use the included headphones and I’m sure it would sound even better if you get yourself higher quality headphones.

This Nano holds 2-gigabytes worth of date (there’s also a 1gb model and a 4gb model available). That translates to about 500 songs (roughly 24 hours worth of music), depending upon the quality and file size of the music you are putting on the Nano. It can also hold thousands of photos.

In order to use your Nano, you must set up iTunes on your computer. iTunes is a software program that serves several purposes: a) it manages the music on your computer; b) it lets you play music and create playlists to play various portions of your music; c) it lets you ‘rip’ your music CDs to your computer; d) it lets you buy individual songs or albums through its online store; and e) it facilitates the transfer of your music (and playlists) from your computer to your Nano.

When iTunes is initially installed, it will automatically check to see if a newer version is available (and if it is, it will download it and install it) and will also scan your system for any existing MP3 music files on your computer.

iTunes is easy to use once it is installed. The creation and management of playlists is quite simple and should you be interested in purchasing music – the iTunes online store is so simple you wish all online shopping could be like it. Once you have set up an account – all you do is click on “buy” and confirm your order. Your song (or album) will be downloaded and you can play that song on iTunes (on your computer), burn it to a CD or put it on your iPod to listen to later.

The Nano does come with a simple case – a faux-leather sleeve that the Nano fits into it. I would suggest a more rugged case for it or an armband holder if you are planning on exercising with the Nano and don’t want it in your pocket or want to hold it in your hand.

I’ve yet to get the armband holder – so I’ve been using the case that was included with the Nano while I’m working out and keeping the Nano in my pocket while exercising at the gym.

First off, DON’T PUT THE NANO IN YOUR BACK POCKET because you’ll probably forget it’s there and sit on it. There will end your iPod journey because the Nano is small, light and not overly sturdy. It can stand up to normal use and wear and tear – but you can’t be throwing it around, dropping it all the time or sitting on it – all of which are things that are fairly easy to do considering how small it is.

Also, don’t leave the Nano in your pocket and put it through the wash – the Nano is not waterproof and it won’t survive.

Lots of people have complained about how easily the Nano scratches. I’ve had mine for several months and have taken it to the gym almost every other day and while there are a few scratches, there’s nothing like I was expecting after hearing horror stories. As long as you keep it in the sleeve or another case and you’re careful with it, you shouldn’t have many problems. Plus – a scratch really doesn’t change the way that the Nano plays – it just doesn’t look as good, which for me – as long as it plays my music when I’m at the gym – I’m happy.


Besides a bit of confusion when I was installing iTunes (there was an update available and it wasn’t quite clear what was happening), and getting used to the click wheel navigation on the iPod, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my Apple iPod Nano. That’s coming from someone who can almost always find something to pick on after I get something.

I’ve been using it at the gym all of the time and considering I’m there almost every other day – that’s a lot of use for the Nano in a fairly short period of time. It’s stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it – including keep it in my side-pocket when exercising and using it in the car several times through the cassette adapter that I have.

All in all – it’s worked perfectly. It’s easy to navigate through, it provides good sound and it’s got enough battery life that on a full-charge I can go for several days without having to even think about charging it.

The 2-gigabyte size of this Nano has been great for my needs – I wanted an MP3 player that would be just for the gym and would only have music that I wanted to hear while I was working out. With the 2-gigabyte model I’ve got plenty of space for lots of songs – but not so much that I’m wasting space when I don’t put on the rest of my music collection.

Final Thoughts

Before I got the Nano I wondered why people go so excited about the iPods. Now that I’ve gone and gotten one – I understand. Apple knows what it means to make a great product – from the way it’s packaged and set up to it’s operation and management. Everything for the Nano works together and even for someone who’s never had an MP3 player – within 30 minutes of starting – you’ll probably be playing music.

If you want a well made, good looking, super-small sized, and simple to set up and use MP3 player – you should take a look at and consider the Apple iPod Nano. Its 2-gigabytes worth of storage space holds about 500 songs and it’s so small and light you might even forget your carrying it.

They are slightly more expensive than similar MP3 players, but in my opinion, the Nano is worth what you pay for.

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