iPod Nano and Nike+ An Excellent Tool for Low Carb Fitness

This week I logged a ridiculous number of miles just walking. Why? Well, even though exercise is overblown (no pun intended) for weight loss, there’s no doubt it’s great for you for other reasons. One of those reasons, for me, is it clears my mind and gives me an opportunity to listen to music and/or podcasts. And it beats sitting around wasting away life Facebooking or doing other stupid shit (like blogging!).

One of the other reasons I like to walk is it allows me time to listen to podcasts. I’m a podcast junkie. One of these days I’ll write up a list of the podcasts I listen to, which include some awesome low carb and paleo ones, but for this post I wanted to write up my opinion of the iPod Nano that I bought a couple of weeks ago and have been using quite a bit since. I have found it to be very useful and motivating. My understanding is that this version of the Nano has been around for quite a while now, so there are surely tons of reviews from tech sites and teenagers out there on the web for you to get the specs of this thing, but I bought it to use while walking (with the occasional sprint sessions), and listening to podcasts while cleaning, doing the dishes, etc. around the house.

iPod Nano Review

In a nutshell: it’s been a great purchase. And usually, with purchases like this that are completely discretionary, I often wind up having second thoughts or disappointed and just returning it to the store for a refund. I bought an iPod Touch a few years ago from Costco and returned it the next day as it was useful to me only as a gaming device and not as good as the old Nano for music and podcasts. This 2011/2012 version of the Nano is really lightweight – you don’t even realize you have it on once clipped. I clip it to my pocket and it’s very convenient. As with all other iPods, the included headphones suck. I wound up buying a set of these Sony’s that get universally positive reviews given the price point. I’m not thrilled with the sound of the headphones, but for the price they’re pretty good.

The one feature that I had no idea was even included with the Nano is the Nike+ feature. It is an excellent tool. Here is a video of how it works:

While I don’t think the Nike+ feature is perfect, it’s pretty cool. It keeps track of all kinds of stuff, but here are some examples, with the first being the total number of miles I’ve run (really mostly walked) since I bought the Nano:

And here is the data for the last “run” (again, really a walk), which was just last night:

Tell me that isn’t badass?

So, what’s the point of this data? How do I use it? Truthfully, I don’t. It is kind of motivating though, but only during the actual walking/running. Particularly on high intensity sessions, which these days are almost always during CrossFit (where there’s no way I could/would bring the Nano), but once a week I do a HIIT session of sprints and utilizing the bleachers at the track to run up and down. Having the Nano announce the number of minutes left, etc., is very cool.

What About the Most Important Feature? The Music?!?

DO NOT buy an iPod Nano simply for the Nike+. There are probably better alternatives out there. Heck, even Nike makes a Fuel Band for this very purpose and my guess is that that works just as well if not better, but it doesn’t play music or podcasts. Prior to picking up this Nano I was using my employer-sponsored blackberry for music and podcasts, and that thing just flat-out sucks for numerous reasons. But it is especially useless for using during working out simply because of the weight/bulk. I’ve gone through a number of MP3/portable music players over the years and, in the end, the only ones I’ve ever been satisfied with were the Apple iPods. Specifically the Nano versions. The Touch is too bulky, and the Shuffle does not allow for storing enough music, let alone podcasts, to be useful to me. The sonic quality of the Nano is not great but is good. But the biggest determining factor for how it sounds is going to be the quality of the music files you put on it, and the headphones. Not that I’m advocating this, but if you happen to have a lot of mp3 files from dubious sources (ahem….Frostwire, etc.), then an option to clean them up is Apple’s iTunes Match service. It’s $25 per year and, although a pain in the ass as you have to do it one song at a time, what you can do is add the not-good-sounding versions of the songs to your iTunes library, then delete them and one by one click on the Match icon (a little cloud) and it will download Apple’s version of the song file to your iTunes library. It is, for all intents and purposes, amnesty for you pirates out there.

Positives

  • Lightweight – it’s perfectly designed for working out.
  • Sound quality is pretty good. Not great, but good enough.
  • Storage options are reasonable, unlike the pitiful iPod Shuffle which won’t store much
  • The clip is excellent – you clip this thing on and forget about it because of the light weight
  • Physical volume buttons, and the big button to auto-advance to the next song
  • Battery life – this thing goes at least 6 or 7 hours on a single charge but probably more – I haven’t run out of juice yet on it
  • iTunes: as much as it is a mess, if you’re using it on a Mac then it’s snappy and not bad. And it just does a good job of managing music, podcasts, etc. iTunes is the main reason to get an iPod these days, versus much cheaper, better sound quality options.

Negatives

  • It’s over-priced for what it is. But, it’s worth it. So I guess that’s not really a negative : )
  • Touch screen is kind of nifty and it looks very sharp, but it’s more gimmicky than useful. I’d prefer the old clickwheel style as it’s easier to work on the run.
  • Touch screen isn’t always responsive to my finger when I use the ‘Hold to go back to Main Menu’ feature. You can see this happen in the video review – when playing a song (or podcast), you can touch and hold the upper portion of the screen and it should go back to the main menu. For me, it doesn’t always do it.
  • Headphones suck

So that’s my little review of the iPod Nano. Do you use a portable music player as a fitness tool?

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