Tuesday, September 14, 2010

iPod Nano 6g

There can be a manufactured silver lining in every cloud.

For example, last weekend, I misplaced my iPod Nano (4g: 4th generation) that I use to record my runs using the Nike+ sports kit. I'm also out of shape, read: can't run 10K under 45 minutes anymore, and need some retail therapy to jumpstart my training.

Coincidentally, last week Apple released the new 6th generation (6g) iPod Nano which advances on my now-lost 4g Nano in two distinct ways:
  1. It's much smaller and has a clip much like the previous generation Shuttle. It's square and is all touch screen. No more iPod iconic click/scroll wheel. Feels like half the size and weight of the previous (rectangular) Nano. Read: easier to carry on runs.

    (Incidentally, the Shuttle has never been Nike+ Sports kit compatible.)
  2. It's also compatible with the Polar Wearlink+ Heart Rate (HR) monitor strap. The 4g wasn't. (The 5th generation (5g) Nano was also compatible, but I skipped the 5g.)
The major downside of course is that I'm out a total of $266 after tax. For that, I got the base model 8GB Nano $149 plus the $29 Nike+ sports kit, plus the $70 for the Polar Wearlink+ strap.

(Incidentally, you need a very special Polar Wearlink+ strap that transmits on two separate frequencies 5 kHz and 2.4 GHz. Only one of the frequencies is used by the Nano (2.4 GHz) but it transmits on both simultaneously. Regular 5 kHz Polar HR monitors don't transmit on the frequency needed by the Nano. Yes, it's only the most expensive model that has the red Nike+ logo on the transmitter.)

I think the square shape is great and I'm all for minimalism. But of course, the overall effect is spoiled by having to insert that big white Nike+ dongle into the dock connector. (On later iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS onwards, the dongle is unnecessary.)

Another (post-purchase) downside I discovered over the 4g is that the 6g only displays the time elapsed during a Basic Run. The screen is nearly the same size, I wonder why they deleted the extra useful real-time information in the Nike+ application.

Unfortunately, to get to that other information being recorded, e.g. pace, distance and HR, it's necessary to be wearing earphones and to press the Sleep/Wake button to get a voice readout. Well, at least one can get the cute Heart logo and stats in the summary after End Workout.

My Nike+ account now also has that cute Heart displayed on runs that have recorded HR.

Unfortunately, recorded HR makes for some extremely weird-looking and virtually-impossible-to-interpret, totally physical-universe-defying run pace graphs.

Oh well. Two steps forward and one step back in functionality.

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