Product Type: Apple MP3 players
Newest Review: ... and can be easily transported around your neck or in your pocket to enable you to easily listen to music on the go without having to worry ... more
Here we go, here we go, Nano
Apple iPod nano 4 GB
Member Name: rlcross
Apple iPod nano 4 GB
Date: 14/01/06, updated on 23/01/06 (528 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to use, small size, good capacity, looks
Disadvantages: Fragile front screen, no case supplied, expensive accessories
Okay, what is the Nano? First of all, it's small and light - about the same thickness as two credit cards, taller but thinner. The weight is comparable to other similar players, possibly lighter than most. The back side of the player is a highly polished (think mirror) chrome whilst the front contains a airmail stamp sized colour screen and the (infamous?) Apple scroll wheel control, the front being protected by a shiny plastic. Apart from the scroll wheel, the only other control is the "lock" switch at the top of the player, (prevents the scroll wheel being pressed inadvertantly), and there's an interface plug at the bottom, (used for recharging and linking with other devices). No power switch - the scroll wheel does this function too!
The power source used is a Lithium Ion (LiON) rechargable battery, which doesn't suffer from the "memory" effects of Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) or the same level power-loss-in-storage drawback as Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). The battery recharges when the Nano is connected to a "host" PC, or you can use a convertor that plugs into a wall socket and provides a standard Universal Serial Bus (USB) socket, (I got one of these with my Nano) and use the supplied interface cable. The inital charge will take 5-6 hours, subsequent recharges are much, much faster than this. Battery life is pretty reasonable, I use mine at the gym and in that use two hours realtime use reduces a fully charged battery down to about 60-70% charge, so I'd estimate 7-8 hours continuous running time could be achievable.
Apart from the Nano, (and the mains power adaptor I got), you get a brief manual, interface cable, headphones, "dock" adaptor and a driver disk. The interface cable - as mentioned before - uses the USB (version 2.0) plug, older iPod ones - which use the "Firewire"/IEEE1394 plug won't work. Unfortunately, no case is supplied - especially unfortunate given the fragile nature of the front plastic. The headphones - unlike most manufacturer supplied ones - are quite good. They're especially good on public transport, (trains in my case), since they appear to boost the bass frequencies a bit, rock music sounds pretty good. If you're more interested in "precision", (especially if you're a classical music fan), then I'd still recommend getting a decent 3rd party pair, such as the Shure E2C's that I bought. One nice piece of design I haven't seen on other players - if the headphone plug comes out of the socket, the Nano automatically put's itself on pause, presumably so you loose as little of the track playing as possible - clever!
As to capacity, I've got my 4GB Nano about 75% full with about 475 tracks stored. I'm using a mix of MP3 and AAC formats, and I'm using mainly the latter format as it seems to give slightly better reproduction on the Nano. To upload to the Nano, you're forced to use the supplied copy of Apple's "iTunes" software*, (supports Windows or Mac operating systems). I've found a good few "rough edges" to this that annoy me, but it does the job. As an aside, one point that I've observed is that iTunes encoding is notably faster on computers based on Intel processors than AMD ones. The Nano also supports other formats, such Apple Lossless Encoding (ALE) which gives very faithful reproduction but enormous file sizes. Transfer of files using iTunes to the Nano seems faster than equivalent file transfers to other digital music players I've got. (* Reputedly, version 10 of the RealPlayer ripper/player software for a PC can encode to AAC and is compatible with the Nano, and I've also seen a plug-in for broadly similar WinAmp software that also allows it's use with the iPod family. So maybe there are alternatives now to iTunes, but I haven't had a chance to test these out).
The color screen (small) also allows the Nano to be used for viewing photos - if your Windows PC has collections in the Adobe Photoshop Elements or Album then the Nano will be able to process these collections. In addition, the Nano can be used as a removable hard disk, perhaps for file storage/transfer; can store notes; can store voice memos (you'll need a special microphone; and can import contacts, to-do's and appointments, like a sort of read-only Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). You can also subscribe to "podcasts" - think radio-type broadcasts that you download the files for and listen to when you want - not done this myself yet, but I'll give a go at some point.
So what's my opinion of it after two months of ownership? Well, I think it's a very good gizmo for a music-loving fitness fan - that large capacity along with the laughably-easy to use scroll wheel are major plus points, and the good music quality and respectible battery life don't damage that opinion. Being based on memory storage, means that the Nano's not fazed by being shaken, (unlike like it's hard disk based bretheren). In the Apple product lineup it's nearest equivalent is the 1GB iPod Shuffle, which while being £40 cheaper (than the 2GB Nano at £139) for half the capacity lacks the colour screen and the - to my opinion at least - drop dead good looks of the Nano. This is one very desirable device - it looks like the kind of thing you'd expect to see in the next James Bond film (queue here for the laser "upgrade")! If you can afford it, I'd recommend spending the £179 for the 4GB model, as the double capacity obviously equates to a much wider listening choice, and yes, I'm happy with my purchase...
Downsides? That front plastic is fragile - I've been very careful with mine and still managed to pick up a couple of very faint scratches. I'm not that keen on the iTunes software, and don't like that I can't use (cheaper) DRM'd WMA format files - Apple's prices for the DRM'd AAC equivalents are a bit on the high side. The pricing for Apple's accessories is also a little on the "premium side", although 3rd parties are stepping in now with a vengenance, and some of the accessories for the "normal" (disk-based) iPod are compatible. I'd strongly recommend a case, and if you're into fitness, an arm strap - I spent the princely sum of £22 (at the AdvancedMP3Players online shop) and bought a Marware "Sportsuit Convertable" - this gives a hard(ish) cover, belt clip, arm strap, hand strap and water(/sweat) resistant neoprene coverall.
In summary, if you want a good music player - especially if you were considering an iPod Shuttle - consider the Nano as an alternative. but budget for the cost of getting a case to protect that fragile front plastic!
Summary: A good looking, easy to use, pocket-sized digital music player
|Ease of use:|
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