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Monday, May 7, 2012

Ipod nano 6th generation: a review

The June Runner's World gives a review of what the editor's consider "Run-worthy audio devices". This article prompted me to review the ipod nano 6th generation, a pricey gadget that now sits unused on my shelf.
You can buy a vest with speakers in the shoulders for races that ban headphones. Dumbest invention ever. 
Précis: This ipod sucks for runners, do not buy it.
Long version: I can't think of a worse design for an mp3 player as far as running is concerned. There is so much wrong going on here, I'm just going to bullet-point it.
- Touch-screen is terrible when running. Instead of going by feel, you have to look at the screen while trying not to run into the racer in front of you. Oh, and you can't see it in bright sunlight. Like, you know, outdoors.
- Finicky screen technology means the device is very moisture sensitive: a horrible flaw since it clips to your clothes. If you sweat when you run, you could damage it. Trust me, I know: my husband killed two in a row just from a sweaty shirt.
- The dumb "only one button" design means you can set it to EITHER skip the song or pause. Both features would be useful while running, but nope, you can only have one or the other. 
- There is no easy way to replay the song you're on. If you're like me, sometimes you hit just the right song and might listen to it several times in a row. Well, you can only do that by going all the way back to the menu and scrolling to that song.
- Clip is not very secure. It is especially bad on thick or folded waist bands.
- Because the clip isn't secure, if you want to use the one top button or the +/- volume buttons, you can't do it with just one touch - there isn't enough support to press against. You'll just accidentally un-do the clip. Instead you have to hold the edges or unclip the thing and hold it to press a button. (Not that you could really just reach down and quickly hit the volume + button anyway; it's so small you could easily pick the volume - button by mistake).
- If you don't set it to lock, anytime you brush or adjust it you'll change the song or pause it or something since the entire device is a touch screen. If you do lock it, you have to unlock it to make any changes: just one more step when you should be focused on running.
- Get cold fingers in the winter when you run? Good luck getting this ipod to respond. 
- Get sweaty fingers in the summer? Ha! Forget it! 

Do you run with music? How often? And what device do you use?
I sometimes bring music - about half my long runs and long races. I find that turning my ipod on in the second half of a marathon can give me a boost. Since I shunned the nano 6th generation, I'm using the 3rd generation player that my husband and I spent two weeks of our lives repairing. 


  1. If I'm running alone I listen to music- an ancient playlist on an equally ancient Ipod (I think Benjy gave it to me in 2007) but it works for me. I don't listen to music when I'm racing or running in a group though.

  2. This does sound like it kind of sucks for running! I use the sansa clip and love that little thing, has all the features I need!

  3. I've been using one of these while running for a little over a year (after cooking my 5th generation when I got caught in a thunderstorm while running), and the funny thing is I have to agree with everything you wrote. I've made it work with some experimentation (for example - I clip it to a 2" wristband on my forearm instead of my clothes because of the sweat issues you mentioned). Touchscreens and running (without any tactile button alternatives) just don't mix. It's a cool little device, but not really very run-friendly.

  4. What a raving review! Haha. Umm sounds like the only workout it *might* be good for is the stationary bike. Must not be designed by anyone who actually exercises...

  5. I had one for about two weeks before I gave it to my daughter. Just not made for running. I went back to my old one, a 5th gen. My wife decided she wanted a new nano (she had 4th gen). I told her don't do it! You won't like it! She didn't listen to me. After about a month of trying to make it work, I saw her with her old Nano. It must have killed her to admit I was right.
    Just like several years ago, they came out with a new Shuffle, one without any buttons and only could be controlled through special headphones. Umm, no. They went back to the old shuffle design. I actually tried to buy an older Shuffle on eBay and they were more than a brand new one. The market speaks.

  6. A plug for something that does work, though. In that Runners World, (and in your picture) there is a picture of Yurbuds headphones. Work great, and the cord never tangles. Awesome product. Not world's highest fidelity, but really, who cares in middle of a big run.

    1. Thanks for the advice! I've heard great things about them but haven't tried them.

  7. ditto, 100%. I would think west coast designers would be healthy runners, but if they run, they never ran with this Ipod (or tested it apparently), and they definitely never ran in humidity.

    I'm still using it unfortunately.....lost my previous generation which I LOVED. (I also was an idiot who purchased one of the shuffles that NY Wolve refers too - it's dumb too)

  8. I run with my iPod, which is from 2007, and I love, or my iPhone, which has a touchscreen but also has a feature where if you double pump the front button, you get a screen where you can skip, or repeat, OR pause the music. I am surprised the nano is lacking that, since I believe it's newer than my iPhone (2008).

  9. I listen to music if I am running alone - so maybe once a week? I have an iPod, and i love it. But it is maybe 2-3 years old? Maybe older?

  10. I run with an Ipod shuffle. The smaller cheaper one. It has a clip. I clip it on my bra strap and it works fine. I think it was $46.

  11. Welp, good to know. Guess what I will not be buying. I always run with music, but I just run with my iPhone!

  12. If I run with music, it's with my iphone (in a baggie because of sweat). I've got a long bike race coming up where I'll be borrowing my son's (3rd? 4th?) generation nano because I'll need my phone to call for a rescue (literally) and don't want to kill the battery listening to music.

  13. If I run with music, it's with my iphone (in a baggie because of sweat). I've got a long bike race coming up where I'll be borrowing my son's (3rd? 4th?) generation nano because I'll need my phone to call for a rescue (literally) and don't want to kill the battery listening to music.

  14. Weird. I train with this and quite like it. I understand for runners how the touch and small screen may be annoying, but when I'm throwing it's really nice how light it is, doesn't distract me at all (as opposed to the heavier iPod classic).
    Just wanted to comment so no one reading this would get too discouraged from it if they weren't a massive running fan, like myself.

  15. Well, I use it for training (not running) where leg work is very important, and the light weight strapped to my hip or inside my pocket feels fine.

  16. Just to give the other side, I have been running with this for about a year and think it is fine. I have a strap for it which goes over the top of my arm and it stays in place. But then I have already made a playlist and just play it in random, so I'm not bothered about changing the tracks or altering it in anyway (I can easily adjust the volume if I want). Why would you want to mess about changing it once running? It also gives me distance as I run.