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Is the iPod Nano Too Small?

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Yesterday, my 60 GB iPod Photo decided that it didn't want to interface with my PC anymore. I plugged in the USB cable and the screen on the iPod changed like it always does to say that it was connecting to the PC. The little USB device manager said that a portable hard drive was connected, but none of the IPod-specific programs would recognize my portable jukebox. iTunes wouldn't work. My Winamp iPod plugin didn't react. Even the factory program that is used to flash new software updates onto the IPod wouldn't recognize the device so that I could try to reset the IPod to factory settings. So, I couldn't update my iPod and I couldn't fix it.

Luckily for me, I have something of a backup. A couple of months ago I purchased an expensive piece of recording equipment on eBay and the seller threw in a free 4 GB IPod Nano to entice potential purchasers. Yesterday, when faced with not having any way to listen to my recorded radio shows in the car, I decided to free the li'l iPod from its shrink-wrapped sarcophagus. I plugged it in and away I went. The computer recognized it and, in no time, I had eight hours worth of programming in my pocket.

Sure, it is perplexing that the Nano had no problems connecting while my ginormous iPod wouldn't connect. (It is even more perplexing that the guy at the "Genius Bar" [blech!] at the Apple Store was able to get it working on one of the in-store Macs.) But that is not why I am writing this.

The reason that I am writing today is that I think we have finally hit the point where the form-factor is smaller than it needs to be. The first thing I noticed after getting this Nano up and running is that it is a burden to carry around, not because it is too big, but because it is too small.

I don't have huge hands. In fact, I find it difficult to stretch my fingers across the frets on my guitar in order to play most scales. Even with my stubby fingers, this little MP3 player is too small to hold comfortably in my hand. It is so small that I worry about putting it in my pocket with my cell phone. If I was wearing even slightly form-fitting jeans or something, I would worry about its health as it sits in my pocket while I move around. As I continue to try to get used to this Nano, it strikes me just how insubstantial this device seems in contrast to the wires that connect my earbud headphones.

I think it might be time to start doing some additional research on minimum sizes for technological devices. Just because you CAN make it smaller, doesn't mean that you should, necessarily. I understand that making these things easy to carry around is important, but when you go too small, I think you actually decrease the device's usability. I would love it if my 60 GB iPod was reduced in size and weight by probably about 25 or 30%, but any more and it too would become increasingly difficult to carry around.

Am I off base on this one? Am I the only one who has found the Nano to be too small?

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About Craig Lyndall

  • I think I understand what you are saying. I’m waiting for the new ginormous iPod before I buy my first one, but I have marvelled at the Nano due to its size. The Nano is so small that I’m afraid I would break it. It seems really popular with the ladies, though.

  • It seems really popular with the ladies, though.

    That’s just what they tell the little bitty nano to make him feel better. Meanwhile they are all gazing longingly at the big bad 60 gig video ipod.

  • I made some similar, somewhat relevant comments in the past: onmy.opera.com

    I agree- it’s time to focus instead on making the Nano more “useful” by focusing on cord management and usability. It’s small enough.

  • I have continued to think about this since writing it and the one great example that I keep coming up with is the mouse. Sure, they could keep reducing the size of it, but at some point there is an ergonomic benefit to keeping it sized so that it fits appropriately in most people’s hands.