Toy of the Month: iPod Nano

Ross Carlson – who is my “IT guy” – loves to play with toys even more than I do.  I suggested that he start writing some of them up and I’d post them on my blog.  He’s started with a tame one which happens to be my toy of the month also (Nano – sweet) – look for the wild, wacky, and esoteric nerd toy reviews to start to appear occasionally.

Recently I (Ross) was lucky enough to get an Apple 2 GB iPod Nano (so was Brad). I’d seen the ads, read the reviews, and was really looking forward to finally getting one. This would be my third iPod (Brad has N where N is a large number) – I’ve also got an Apple 1 GB iPod Shuffle that I use for data and to boot Linux (oh yeah and music too) and an Apple 40 GB iPod. I wasn’t exactly sure how I’d use this iPod but after seeing it I knew I wanted it. I was right.

When you see pictures of it you know it’s going to be small. Hell, it’s thinner than a pencil. You don’t really get how small it is until you hold it – it’s amazing. Like many Apple products, once you see it you have to hold it and once you’re holding it you can’t put it down. So, ok, it’s thin but what else? It’s obvious that having a color screen is nice – but it’s more than nice. Remember back when the first color cell phones came out and we all thought it was kinda silly? Everyone quickly realized that the huge benefit of color isn’t necessarily that it’s color (which is great don’t get me wrong) but that you can read it so much easier. That’s what’s great thing about the Nano screen – while it’s not super high res it still looks great making everything so much more readable.

Sound quality is what you’d expect from an iPod – excellent. The Nano includes the same ear buds as all previous iPods. Navigation is just like previous photo iPods. The new smaller click wheel with the big center button is easy to operate making accessing everything a snap. Syncing with iTunes for music and photos is easy – even though I hate iTunes with a passion. So far I haven’t found any third party software for the Nano like I use for my other iPod and my Shuffle.

Ok, so I love it but I’ve got to hate something right? Scratches. If you haven’t read about the scratching problems (here, here, here, here, or here) then keep reading – and read carefully. Due to all the scratching issues I’ve read I haven’t removed the protective sticker that came on it and I haven’t used it much yet (only enough to write this review). It’s sitting in my 3rd generation doc right now (ah Apple, smart enough not change the dock connector for every model) waiting for the protective case I ordered. Order a case for it when you order the Nano. One other minor thing – the headphone jack is at the bottom, not the top. This isn’t that big of a deal but the top would be better. The problem is the thing is so thin they couldn’t fit the screen and the connector at the top.

The Nano is what you’ve come to expect from Apple iPods – it’s great looking, great sounding, easy to use, and amazingly small. If you’ve been considering a smaller sized portable player this is probably it. It comes in 2 GB and 4 GB versions, holding 500 and 1000 songs respectively. Highly recommended.