As any of my friends and family will readily confirm, I’m a watch nut. Be it automatic or quartz, digital or analog, on the wrist or in the pocket, timepieces are near and dear to my heart and, as a result, I am rarely without one. Consequently, when I heard an iPod Nano was coming my way, the first thing I thought was…”a new watch!”
Turning a Nano into a watch is not at all a new idea. From the time Steve Jobs mentioned the idea during the Nano’s release announcement, every Apple accessory manufacturer under the sun has been releasing watch bands ranging from the silly slap-on to the professional metal encasement. It was clear to me when investigating my options that the “simple” task of selecting the correct band was going to be the hardest part.
Any semblance of indecision evaporated however, when I stumbled on LunaTik. Funded through Kickstarter and designed by Scott Wilson, LunaTik offers two general watch designs which have spun off a plethora of variations. These include the TikTok, a more entry level design, and the LunaTik, a premium machined aluminum case that fully encapsulates the iPod. As I wasn’t quite ready to drop $70+, I decided to try out the TikTok, and promptly ordered it from Amazon (go Prime!).
The LunaTik TikTok
Everything arrived, and upon assembling my new watch…er…Nano I immediately discovered that this review would need to come from two angles – the TikTok watch band itself, and the Nano’s capabilities as a watch. The low hanging fruit is clearly the review of the case, and from that perspective I was impressed from the start. The packaging is supurb and screams “quality!” from the second you pick it up. The box displays the product well, gives a clear description of its features, and even has a window through which you can see the actual watch band prior to purchasing. This is a good thing, as the box itself was a wee bit difficult to open. You’ll notice I didn’t post a picture…it’s a little ripped.
As in other watch band configurations, the iPod Nano snaps in to the TikTok and is held securely by the TikTok’s polycarbonite plastic case. The case stays fixed to your arm by a wide silicone rubber strap, and is secured by stainless steel hardware. This strap also contains a movable widget that serves to hold any extra watch band securely to the case, rather than having it flop loosely, or slide in to a loop attached to the band.
The quality of the case sets it above the others I have viewed. The edges are rounded, no seams or manufacturing flaws are visible, and the steel clasp and bolts feel solid and properly machined. The snap-in dock is secure, and I have no worries about the Nano slipping out. However it is clear why the LunaTik is advertised as offering a higher level of protection for the Nano, as the TikTok leaves the face of the Nano exposed, with no protection for the occasional bump against a door jamb. Also, while the silicone watch band is comfortable and secure, it is surprisingly difficult to keep clean. The silicone is, quite simply, a lint magnet and I find myself wiping it off every few days. This is in no way a show stopper however – this is a solid band and excels at its function of securely and comfortably attaching the Nano to my wrist.
One of my favorite features of this watch band, which really segways into the Nano’s function as a watch (or wrist-bound device) is how the headphone jack points up my arm. Because of the TikTok’s well thought out construction, you can turn the Nano any direction you choose before snapping it in to the case (there is no issue with the Nano’s little clip getting in the way), and then spin the display through the UI so that everything lines up. With the headphone jack pointing up my arm I am able to have my headphones literally cabled “up my sleeve” and my music at my fingertips. This has been incredibly useful both at my workplace and during my commute.
As a Watch…
As a watch, the Nano is…interesting. Unlike a traditional timepiece, the Nano requires you to actually do something in order to check the time; in this case, clicking the lock/standby button on the side of the Nano. This, assuming you have configured the Nano to display the clock on wake, shows a simple analog clock, with a smooth sweep second hand and a day/date window. The
analog clock is quite readable and, assuming the brightness is reasonably high, is usable even in bright sunlight. It is possible to choose different faces – white and black – but no custom faces are available, nor can you assign a picture or add your own face.
Traditional watch features, such as a stopwatch and countdown timer, are included – however the countdown timer is usable if an external audio device is connected. Because the Nano has no speaker or method of generating sound, I haven’t even used the timer feature. An alarm function is non-existant.
What is compelling about the device though, is the slew of useful features you’re strapping to your wrist. These include a full-fledged iPod, photos, an FM radio (which essentially includes a TiVo-esque rewind/pause function), and a fitness/pedometer app. It’s very handy having photos of my family in such an easy to access location, and the display is quite sufficient for pulling up a quick picture of the kids.
Is it Worth It?
In the end, the combination of a LunaTik or TikTok band with an iPod Nano gives the device a level of potential that isn’t possible with the iPod alone. I highly recommend it…I may even upgrade to the LunaTik if money allows. The end result isn’t a true “watch”, but it’s much more than a simple iPod Nano. To me, the only thing that would complete this picture is a wireless method of connectivity (i.e. Bluetooth or Wifi) to connect the device to the outside world and to my other “i”-devices. In this day and age it is downright strange to be using a device that is disconnected from the world. Being able to see caller ID, calendar, or other basic information from my iPhone – on my wrist – would be incredible. Maybe the iPad Nano…generation 7?!