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iPod nano First Impressions

by Derrick Story
Sep. 9, 2005

I drove over to my local Apple Store this morning to buy an iPod nano. I was happy to see that there was a full supply of all models -- a nice change from the shuffle shortage I experienced last time. Not only were the nanos in stock, Apple has special nano bags to tote my new purchase. They are quite attractive and very good advertising as I strolled back through the mall to the car.

I bought the 4GB black model. It's absolutely beautiful. But like all shiny black devices, it does show finger prints. So if you're bothered by smudges, consider the white model.

The 1.5" color screen is easy to read and very attractive. As with the other color iPods, the display shows the album cover art aside song title, artist, and album. The Apple click wheel is one of the best navigation devices I've ever used. The headphone jack is on the bottom of the nano, beside the dock connector. The hold switch is located on the top left of the device. Despite its diminutive size, the nano is a pleasure to hold and easy to read. I really like the design of this player.

The sound output is excellent. There's good range from bass to treble, and plenty of volume. I rarely moved the volume beyond the 50 percent mark.

I can use my Griffin PowerJolt with the nano so I have full battery charging while on the go. But I was disappointed to discover that the camera connector does not work with the nano. So if you want to display photos on it, you have to do it the old fashioned way through iTunes. Pity, because the 4GB capacity could serve as a handy backup while on the go. I'm hoping that we get a firmware update that will enable the camera connector.

As for the new features, I think the Screen Lock is terrific. The combination dial reminds me of my old school locker, and if I do forget the four digits I set, all I have to do is plug the nano into my host computer to unlock it. I've wanted a lock for a long time so I could store calendar and contact information with a little peace of mind. Now I have it. I also like the multiple world clocks. They're really quite handy. I have four set up right now. I even like the stopwatch with its nice looking display.

Some folks have commented that they think the nano might be too small. I don't feel that way at all. It feels good in my hand, fits nicely in my pocket, looks beautiful, sounds terrific, and is priced to sell. 4GBs of flash memory for $249... that's a good deal.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.

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