Wednesday, September 20, 2006

iPod Nano 8gb (2nd generation)



It has finally happened. We now own our first ipod.
I picked this up for the wife since her old iriver 128mb usb 1.1 mp3 player was just embarrassingly out of date. My practical nature in choosing electronics lead me to the nex3+ but was quickly rejected by the wife based on aesthetics.

good:
- thin, tiny, aesthetically pleasing
- nice bright color screen
- great battery life
- brushed aluminum so it's more durable and more scratch resistance. They also rounded the edges.
- pretty good value if you add up the cost of parts. Say a 4gb SD card runs $80-$100. So in just memory alone 8gb would run you close to $200. $50 for the player isn't that bad.
- the optional $50 FM module was smaller than I expected.
- displays photos pretty nicely even on that tiny screen. You can even create a little slide show with background music.

bad:
- 8gb (the only good value in the bunch) only comes in black.
- non user replaceable battery. This is my #1 issue with ipods. I'll either pay their exuberant prices and go through the hassle of shipping it to apple for a replacement or do some hack job myself in about 2 years when that battery only holds half its charge.
- no built in FM and $50 for a tuner is kind of nuts. Nanos are suppose to be used when working out. Most gym's broadcast the TV audio on FM!
- I can't handle the wheel. I keep overshooting the item I want by one. It seems a bit too sensitive to me.
- can only navigate music by id3 tag, no folder navigation
- photo slide show seems to sort the files in an unpredictable manner.
- limited resume functionality. No robust bookmarking.
- comes with a usb sync/charge cable. There is no cradle or ac adapter so you can't charge the nano while the computer is off. I think you can work around it by connecting it to a powered usb hub. But come on apple. For $250 I expect at least an ac adapter.
- have to use itunes to transfer music on to the nano. I really hate itunes especially the library. I hate being forced into id3 tag browsing vs folder. I added a music folder with a lot of mp3's. Yeah it hung...twice. I finally gave up and ended up dragging a few folders at a time into itunes. After an hour or so I finally got everything imported into the library and then quickly backed up the xml file just in case. Fyi, the mp3's are on a network share.
- Next I go and properly tag some files (outside of itunes) and then drag them back into the library. You would think it would update the tag info. NOPE! I had to play each song within the library before it would pull in the new tag information.
- It hung once while trying to flash the nano to 1.01 firmware. Ok granted I had it hooked up through a powered usb hub (read previous comment). So I rebooted, connected the nano directly, and it flashed just fine.
- no official movie support. Also, the new games on the itunes store are NOT supported on the nano.

Apple ipods are definitely targeted at a specific consumer which apparently covers 75% of the mp3 buying market which my wife is clearly a part of. I,on the other hand, am definitely part of that other 25%. The wife likes it and that's what is important even if it's a bit of a pain for me to support.

Recommended for those looking for something stylish, trendy, status symbol, simple, bought into the itunes store (why not just order the cd from amazon without any drm and rip it any way you want?), and those who love the wheel navigation.
NOT recommended for the power user looking for a ton of functionality, flexibility, and value.

Update: 9/21/06
- TheAngryIntern pointed out to me that the full version of winamp also supports transfering mp3's to the ipod.
- I noticed that the mp3's are just in a hidden directory with all the files and directories given cryptic names.
- I also found Anapod Explorer which seems interesting.
- Audio Books and bookmarking

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