Does the iPod Nano Make a Good Watch?

There’s been a lot of talk recently of using the new iPod Nano as a watch (the iWatch, as it’s being called), so I thought I’d pick one up and give it a try.

The good:

  • Music, audio books, and radio right on your wrist. If you already use a smart phone, this probably doesn’t impress you much, but if you don’t, you might like the convergence.
  • Easy time synchronization. Your computer probably calibrates its clock against a time server which, in turn, probably calibrates against an atomic clock. Every time you sync your iPod with your computer, the iPod’s time us updated, so it should stay pretty accurate as long as you sync it fairly regularly.
  • It’s relatively small. At .74 ounces and roughly 1.5″ square, it’s actually pretty compact by today’s watch standards.
  • Adequately functional. It has day/date on the face, and it also has a stopwatch and a countdown timer.
  • Configurable watch face. Choose between white or black.

The bad:

  • Not water-resistant. Even an impromptu water fight might be enough to ruin your iWatch.
  • You have to remember to charge it. If you already sync your iPod frequently, this probably won’t be a problem, but if you don’t, charging your watch is just one more thing you will have to remember to do.
  • Not good in direct sunlight. Since it has a backlit screen, it’s very hard to read in direct sunlight. On the other hand, it works great in the dark.
  • Can’t just glance at the time. Checking the time means actually turning the iPod on. Since you have to reach over and hit a button anyway, it might be just as easy to pull out your phone.
  • You’re only supposed to use it in temperatures between 32° and 95°F (-20° to 45°C). That means no wearing your iWatch while shoveling snow in the winter or doing yard work in the summer — at least where I live.

Although using an iPod nano as a watch is definitely somewhat gimmicky, it actually worked better than I expected. If you’re someone who is really into watches, I doubt an iPod Nano would replace what’s already on your wrist or sitting on your dresser. But if you’re more into gadgets and music than timepieces, strapping an iPod Nano to your wrist might be the way to go. Just consider going with the cheaper 8GB version ($149) so if you smash the crystal (screen, I guess I should say) or get it wet, you can pick up another without too much regret.

By Christian Cantrell

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