Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

My love affair with the iPod Nano Watch

A little history behind the Nano Watch

 

ipod Nano watch

When the Nano was first introduced in 2005, I thought it was cute but totally a waste of money. There was no way to add new apps to it. It played music, had a tiny screen for some kind of video playback and that was about it.

In 2010, Apple introduced the 6th Generation iPod Nano and it was a square screen with a clip. Someone (not at Apple) started talking online about the Nano as a watch. Homemade watch bands were introduced and a cottage industry of makeshift watch bands for Nanos hit the tech scene despite tech fans like Engadget not being interested.

In November of 2010, Scott Wilson launched a kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15,000 to fund the production of a Nano watchband. The kickstarter campaign was one of the most successful ever, raising over $942,578. Wilson’s company produces the TikTok watchbands.

By 2011, even Apple recognizes the appeal of the Nano as a wristwatch and its updated operating system included 16 different watch faces. The TikTok watchbands, among others, are carried in the Apple store, both online and in their brick and mortar locations.

Limitations of the Nano Watch

The iPod Nano, however, has serious limitations as a watch. For one, there is no external audio which means to hear an alarm set on the watch, one has to be wearing headphones. The Nano goes to sleep regularly to save on battery power which forces one to press the power button to see the time. There is no bluetooth or wifi which requires one to use corded headphone and that is a pain while running or working out.  Further, and this is the most egregious problem in my opinion, there is no way to add apps to the Nano. You are stuck with what Apple deems is appropriate. There is no Calendar. No way to add a fitness app. You are stuck with the Nike+ app which I find to be generally worthless particularly in comparison to the great fitness apps out there.

Pebble

The computer watch is seeing a resurgence and new Android based watches are being introduced. One of the most talked about devices is the Pebble. Pebble has an eink face and interfaces with both your iPhone/iPod Touch and any Android device running OS 2.3. It can receive text messages and provide alerts. It is bluetooth compatible. It has caught the interest of the public to the tune of $10 million. I haven’t pre ordered one because I use my iPod Nano watch for one thing, primarily, and second some of the features like calculating distance while running requires the use of running with the phone.  I don’t like running with the phone but the if the Pebble takes off, then other devices and better ones will come to the market.

Audiobooks

About the same time the 6th generation iPod Nano was released, Sarah Wendell started talking about the Georgette Heyer books narrated by Richard Armitage. I had to check it out. I tried one and was hooked. I had to get them all. (Thankfully I had a number of unused credits in my Audible subscription plan). I started to listen to audio books while I did unlikeable tasks around my house like washing the dishes or cleaning the toilets. Audiobooks actually made these tasks almost enjoyable. I started listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work; when I walked the dog; as I shopped for groceries.

I had to up my audiobook membership from gold to platinum. Listening to audiobooks has become a regular part of my daily activities. Most of the time I am listening to the books instead of the radio (I can’t stand sports radio right now. 95% of the time it is offensive toward women and minorities. I can’t handle the news and I can only listen to Call Me Maybe a few times a week).

Around the time I glommed onto the Armitage books, I realized that I now had a legitimate reason to purchase the iPod Nano. It would be a watch and an audiobook player. I bought the silver Nano and a silver metal watchband. I love its oversize look on my wrist. I think I hand sold about twenty of them when I was at BEA.

I do wear the Nano every day and plug it in every night. When I first started wearing it, I was irritated that I couldn’t just flip my wrist around and look at the time, but I’ve gotten used to pressing a button to see the time. I love the 16 different watch faces but admit to using a very standard and boring watch face. It’s too hard to tell the time when Kermit is staring at me.

kermit watch face

Some recommendations and warnings.

As for audiobooks, man, a good narrator can make a huge difference. For instance, I loved Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison but the narrator makes Pia sound whiny and petulant. Where I would provide a more flat intonation, the narrator uses a charged, accusing tone. I actually had to stop listening to the book lest I ruin the long form narrative version entirely for me. I am afraid that when I pick up the ebook/print version of Dragon Bound, I will be haunted by the narrator’s interpretation. It’s not that her voice is grating but just that her emotional interpretation of the words transformed Pia into a different character for me. The same narrator voices all of Thea Harrison’s books so I have had to avoid them.

Another narrator that I just cannot stand is Anne Flosnik. Her voice is thin and monotone. I purchased The Prize by Julie Garwood (and why I picked that title, I know not. It might have been on sale) and could only manage to make it through the first two chapters. That was a waste of credits but a good lesson. I now listen to a sample before purchasing every audio book.

Audiobooks I have thoroughly enjoyed is the Kate Daniels series. The voice of Kate Daniels is pitch perfect. She has just the right tone between world weary, snarky, and a little lonely. Her male voices were acceptable. (This is something you just have to endure – the male voicing the female parts and the females voicing the male parts).

I also have enjoyed the hell out of Robert Petkoff’s narration of the Kresley Cole books. There are some parts that he voices that are so hot, I had to fan myself. I prefer his English and Scottish accents over his Russian or Estonian accents. At times, I felt he made Lothaire sound like a dumb lug, even though Lothaire was as clever as they come. The worst part about Petkoff’s narration is when he is voicing the female’s orgasming. “I’m coming” from even a well modulated male voice trying to hit a falsetto is just cringe inducing.  One thing I noticed when listening to the Kresley Cole books was gruesome things were hard to stomach.  The initial scene in  A Hunger Like No Other includes Lachlain cutting off his leg and in No Rest for the Wicked when Kaderin was being attacked and drowned by sharks, I shivered with apprehension and a little distress.  Audiobooks seem to amplify everything.  In Warlord Wants Forever I almost had to stop listening because Nikolai Wroth comes off so rapetastic in the book. He is constantly forcing Myst to do things because he holds a magical chain that controls Myst.  In the novella, perhaps those scenes wing by quickly but in the audiobook, it seemed interminable.

The Warlord Wants Forever is voiced by a man and a woman: Hagan Verret, Simone Fomhar.  I thought this was interesting but unnecessary because it’s alternatiing chapters and so you still have Verret voicing the female thoughts during some chapters and Fomhar voicing the male’s.

Meljean Brooks’ The Iron Seas series is amazing in audio.  Audiobooks are great for adventure series. Faye Adele is the narrator and she does a great job. However, some of Rhys’ sexy lines sound really awful and there were times I wished I had an abridged version, a version without the sex scenes.  Overall, I’ve realized that I can do without the sex scenes in these books on audio unless they are from the male point of view and voiced by Petkoff.

As I edit this, I have just finished listening to The Witness and the heroine’s voice is done marvelously. Brooks’ voice is not so bad but at times sounds a bit aggressive toward the heroine and a little too snarky.  The ending, which was only mildly disappointing in the written form, comes off as hugely disappointing in the audio.

My next audiobook is Generation Kill by Evan Wright and narrated by Patrick Lawlor.  It was made into a 7 part miniseries which aired on HBO and starred a young Alexander Skarsgard.  From what I read, it is a very even handed account of the horrors of battle, but of the bond that such an environment creates.

Where to buy

Audiobooks are expensive purchased alone.  Most of them run in excess of $25.00.  I think the only way that audio books make sense is to have a subscription.  Audible is where I buy my ebooks. I understand that there are a couple of competitiors: Tantor and Macmillan.  Macmillan features audio for its own titles and Tantor is a bit more like Audible, with a wide range of publisher offerings.

My recommendation is take advantage of one of the try it free deals.  Audible has one that allows you to sign up and (download one audio book. for free. Remember to cancel your subscription before the end of 30 days, though, or you will be deemed a subscriber. Another Audible deal offers you three months at $7.49/month.

Tantor doesn’t have a subscriber option that I can see, but it does offer deals and discounts on a regular basis.

I’m always on the look out for good audiobooks, so let me know what you’ve been listening to (and whether the computerized watch interests you or not).

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. ms bookjunkie
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 05:41:47

    I am wildly curious about Patricia Briggs’ Hurog duology in audio. PB raved about it, said Joe Manganiello got the hero perfectly. …And I just listened to the sample, which caused me to seriously consider an Audible subscription.

    Starla Huchton’s narration of Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge (free on Amazon & Smashwords as ebook, on iTunes as audiobook) is great, IMO. (I’m having other issues with the audiobook—like it downloading in reverse order from iTunes—but it was free and I’m enjoying it immensely so I’m not throwing any fits. And in all probability, there’s something I could do to fix up the wrong order but I’m too much of a luddite to manage.)

    The Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry is amazing!

  2. Nicole
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 06:55:07

    The only iPod I’ve ever had is my 6th generation Nano, since all I wanted was a tiny portable music player. It’s brilliant for housework or gardening.

    I also love audiobooks for making the time fly. They’re great on a long drive. I’ve only ever borrowed them from the library, whatever I could find, and they have introduced me to a few authors who I would never have otherwise read. I like mysteries as audiobooks; romance doesn’t work for me since I tend to skim some scenes and savour others. Also, I don’t think sex scenes work in audiobooks; what can be emotional or passionate on the page always seems to become ridiculous and unnecessary when read out loud. But that’s just me.

    And yes, the narrator makes a huge difference. I once listened to one of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John books voiced by an American. His attempted English accent clashed weirdly with his American pronunciation of many words. It would have quite ruined the experience if I’d been a fan of the book.

    My favourite things to listen to this way are BBC radio dramatisations with a complete voice cast and sound effects. But then, they are not really audiobooks at all.

  3. Rosie
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 07:14:29

    Here’s where I admit I live under a rock — I’ve never heard of the Nano Watch. That’s pretty cool.
    Audio books I’ve had the most success with are books written by and narrated by some of my favorite TV personalities (Tina Fey, Craig Ferguson, Steven Colbert). I love to hear them tell the stories in the way they meant the words to come across.
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (maybe everyone’s read this and/or seen the movie by now) is a fabulous audio book. And Octavia Spencer, who won the Oscar, does the voice of Minnie on the audio book. Love her.
    I’ve tried one of Lauren Willig’s books on audio (I think it was the Crimson Rose title?) and it was a fun listen.

  4. Jane
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 09:02:57

    @Rosie: I, too, thought the Help was a great audio book. The three different voices was like listening to a performance and not just a book.

    @ms bookjunkie: I LOVE the Hurog duology. I’m off to get that right now.

  5. Valarie P
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 09:06:31

    My favorite audiobooks are Gail Carriger’s series. Emily Grey does a fantastic job on the narration, and she gets the accents and intonation perfect. If you haven’t listened to them, give them a try.

  6. Tina
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 09:53:47

    Oh, man, I totally cosign on Anne Flosnik. I listed to Mary Balogh’s ‘A Matter of Class’ with her narrating and it just…. wasn’t great.

    I love…..
    …. Susan Erickson’s narration of the J.D. Robb “…In Death” books
    …..Anna Field’s narration of various Susan Elizabeth Phillips books
    …..Ashford McNabb’s narration of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series
    …..Kirsten Potter’s narration of Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady
    …..Stephen Briggs’ narration of various Terry Pratchett discworld books

    to name a few

  7. Darlynne
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 10:47:13

    I agree, sex scenes in audio books are cringe-worthy, almost without exception. Violence, however, is worse because you can’t really skip through it the way you would in a book.

    I’m listening to a Book Smugglers’ pick, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and really enjoying the first-person narration. It’s an excellent YA book, btw, with dragons.

    Jane, you hook your watch up to headphones? Do you have to keep your arm still as you move so you don’t yank the phones/buds off? Also, if you let Audible know how much you disliked or couldn’t finish one of their books, they will very possibly give your credits back.

    @ms bookjunkie: How did you find Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge? Every time I look in the iTunes store for audio books, I end up in iBooks, which does me no good (no iThing here). So frustrating, but I’m willing to work for free.

  8. becca
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 11:09:58

    I’ll second Susan Ericksen’s reading of the In Death books.

    Barbara Rosenblat is brilliant reading the Amelia Peabody books. I love her voice of Erickson.

    As far as the iPod nano goes, I went to great trouble and expense to find 5th gen Nanos – the 6th gen ones are just too small. I’ve never liked wearing anything on my wrists, so wearing it as a watch is a non-starter. And, this may make me a luddite in some respects, but I just don’t care for touch screens. I love the click wheel controller on the 5th gen Nanos, and I’ll be heart-broken when it finally dies and I’ll have to advance to what will probably be a 7th or 8th gen Nano.

  9. ms bookjunkie
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 11:16:44

    @Nicole: Ooh, me too on the BBC full cast dramatizations!

    And Then There Were None totally freaked me out, no matter that I’ve read and reread that book over the years. Love!

    The only issue I have with them—and it’s *my* issue—is I’ve so imprinted on David Suchet as the true Poirot, that listening to John Moffat (and his British accent) act Poirot’s part is…startling, to say the least.

  10. Ellen
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 11:50:09

    Audible is having a sale now on books in their ACX program. Just search “acx” and they will all pop up and then you can comb through them. The full price on a number of them is just $5.16 so even if it is not “on sale,” it could still be a deal not to miss. Lots of erotica, erotic, romance, mysteries. If you start a trial membership, you can really get a lot of listening hours stockpiled for the winter at these prices.

    I adore Anna Fields in the SEP books.
    My comfort listen in Crusie’s “Bet Me” narrated by Deanna Hurst. It took me a few chapters, but now I really enjoy Hurst’s narration. It took me a while to warm up, though. I never did warm up to Aasne Vegesaa’s narration of Crusie’s “Faking It.” I usually listen to my audio books more than once. Can’t bring myself to listen to this again.

    Lorelei King is the queen of the world of narration. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Stephanie Plum books (she didn’t do all of them, so be careful), the Mercy Thompson, the Charley Davidson books. She has done so many, it is hard to remember them all. I have yet to hear a bad one.

    I really recommend listening to the provided samples. They have saved me some credits. There are some narrators I adore for some books, but find their talents ill suited to others, or at least my internal belief of what they protags “sound” like.

    I was going to do the three-month trial and bail, but I can’t make myself stop the membership. My 13-y-o (a voracious reader) is also really enjoying it so I have decided to just splurge a little.

  11. CK
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 12:52:37

    My ears have been in a constant state of eargasm by Tom Hiddleston’s narration The Red Necklace. Can’t tell you much about the story itself, but I’m definitely enjoying the narration :)

  12. Leslie
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 13:55:59

    Ann Flosnik is very popular, but I can’t listen to her, her voice makes me nauseated.
    Anna Fields best ever, such a sad loss.
    I love Barbara Rosenblat’s narration of Amanda Quick’s earlier books, she does such a good job of bringing out the humor and eccentricity of the characters. I was so pissed when AQ’s publisher changed readers.
    Unless there are new versions, Jim Dale narrated Harry Potter and did a terrific job with all the voices.
    That’s a shame about Dragon Bound, it’s always risky when you like a book and then listen to the audio. I just downloaded a Nalini Singh audio from the library and I hope I’m not disappointed.
    My all time favorite audio book is an earlier recording of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Pullman narrates with a full cast and all three books are extraordinary. I’ve heard that he narrates an abridged version without a cast, but I’ve never seen or heard it. My family and I first listened to the series while on holiday in 2004, it was a wonderful experience. The series is long and expensive, but well worth it.

  13. theo
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 14:29:05

    Just about anything read by Phil Gigante. I first heard him when I bought Moning’s Highlander books and holy crow, is he good. His accents are spot on and even the female voices come across as believable. Not shrill or overly affected. I have Gabaldon’s Outlander read by Davina Porter and though she too is very good, I’d already gotten spoiled by Gigante and now I tend to prefer male readers. Either way, they were great when I was test driving pre-release model cars for 8 hours a night. Now, I’m just spoiled and would rather listen to an audio book than almost anything else.

  14. Justine
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 15:45:23

    For those who enjoy audiobooks with multiple narrators that sound like theatrical performances, check out Full Cast Audio for children’s and YA novels. I listened to Graceling by Kristin Cashore (a title DA has reviewed) on Full Cast Audio. Authors narrated by FCA who DA readers are likely to recognize include Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce.

    Shannon Hale: http://fullcastaudio.com/tek9.asp?pg=person&id=215
    Tamora Pierce: http://www.fullcastaudio.com/tek9.asp?pg=person&id=78

    I’d also like to spotlight Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (http://fullcastaudio.com/tek9.asp?pg=products&specific=jocohql8), “an audiobook that has as much original music as a Broadway show!”

  15. Lorenet
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 16:55:58

    Don’t forget about the library for audio books. I can get e-audio on line from the library.

  16. Les
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 17:03:21

    I regularly listen to audiobooks (particularly during election seasons) b/c I can’t stand listening to the radio 98% of the time; I have narrowed down some reliable faves:
    Ditto on Anna Fields/SEP.
    My absolutely favorite audiobooks (like, I re-listen to the whole series every year) are the Laurie R. King Russell/Holmes books narrated by Jenny Sterlin. Impeccable intonation, accent, pacing. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I got and keep my Audible subscription for these.
    Another awesome mystery series are the Flavia DeLuce books by Alan Bradley – the storyteller is a 12 year old girl and the reader Jayne Entwhistle has everything down perfectly, including the wondering petulance of a thwarted pre-teen genius.
    I always have Dorothy Sayers mysteries and PG Wodehouse (read by Ian Carmichael or Johnathan Cecil) on my iPod (I succumbed years ago when ITunes was the only game in town).
    If you haven’t yet, the Simon Vance-read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books are AMAZING. I was on a long drive to (and in) North and South Dakota and never nodded off. I even kept the books on during a driving rainstorm when I probably should have turned on weather radio. I didn’t know I cared about Swedish finance reform until Steig Larsson and Simon Vance told me all about it. Vance is British, so Swedish class differences are rendered in British tones, which is familiar shorthand to fans of Masterpiece Theatre, etc. Give these a try (again, Audible or a library is a great source).

  17. MikiS
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 02:40:37

    there were times I wished I had an abridged version, a version without the sex scenes

    Oh, I was just thinking this very thought, this weekend. Or, actually, I was wishing they’d put the little “jumps” in so I could jump past the sex scenes. I just finished doing a listen-through of the entire Nalini Singh series, and it’s pretty surprising to me how much of the book “time” is spent on sex in the later books. Sections of 20-30-40 minutes of more nipple-tweaking, predatory-changeling-male growling, dominant-orgasm-inducing until I just want to turn it off!

    Although, to be fair, when I do the same run-through of the JD Robb series, I do the same after the first few books. And those scenes don’t go on and on and on and on….

    The other thing I notice is that I prefer female narrators for romance novels. I’ve borrowed a couple Stephanie Lauren’s audiobooks from the library, and they were narrated by a guy who I thought sounded like he wished he was reading almost anything else!

  18. Sarah Tanner
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 07:30:42

    I love the BBC full-cast dramatizations of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books.

    As for audio books: Katherine Kellgren’s narration of Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series is superb. The original books are short, so the unabridged audio versions are all around 9 hours long. They’re cozy mysteries with a romance.

    The unabridged audio book of Sophie Kinsella’s ‘I’ve Got Your Number’ was good fun.

    Gerry O’Brien’s narration of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor mystery series is brilliant.

    Another Irish author who has a great narrator for his books is Adrian McKinty. ‘The Cold, Cold Ground’ is particularly well done.

  19. P. Kirby
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 11:03:28

    @CK:

    Tom Hiddleston. Gah. The man could read a cereal box and give me a big happy.

    I love my Nano but…its sole job is to give me access to my music library, anywhere, anytime. The cute little touch screen devours battery power, so I use a regular watch to tell time. I know; I’m such a luddite. :)

  20. Lada
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 12:09:43

    I’m a fairly new audiobook convert though I’ve had a nano forever. I’m not a fan of yard or house work without at least a decent podcast to listen to but I had a hard time getting into listening to books. I figured out that my problem was trying to listen to romance. Just doesn’t work for me at all, no matter how great the reader is (and I’ve tried quite a few mentioned above).

    I’m now throughly addicted to listening to Mystery/Thrillers and have been discovering lots of new-to-me authors this way. I had read the first of Steig’s Millenium trilogy and never picked it back up but I recently listened to all three and really enjoyed it. A lot of characters to keep track of but I never felt lost. I discovered Lisa Gardner’s DD Warren series and have enjoyed those (Kristen Potter is the voice of DD Warren but other readers are used for different characters). Lisa Unger, Greg Iles, and Lee Childs are also authors I’ve enjoyed listening to. I think the fast-paced stories are what I need when I’m scrubbing and mowing, etc. to help make the time fly.

    I’m thinking I might need to put the watch band on my xmas wish list but I also would like to know how you keep the earbud wires from getting in the way while working!

  21. Ros
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 14:59:49

    I love this line: “…some of the features like calculating distance while running requires the use of running with the phone. I don’t like running…”

  22. Jane
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 16:10:23

    @Lada – I place the wires behind my ears so that the Y in the earbud cord hangs down my back. If you have sleeves on, another great way to keep the cord out of the way is to thread the cord down your sleeve.

  23. B
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 16:50:31

    Library, library, library. Start with your local library before paying money for audiobooks. They are quite likely to have a subscription to a downloadable audiobook service, will have CDs and cassette tapes, and may have MP3 discs or Playaways (MP3 cartridges). Plus you can usually ask for an interlibrary loan to get audiobooks not locally available.

    Abridged vs unabridged — in the past they were often read by different readers. Worth checking for different versions if you don’t like a particular performer.

    In spite of having multiple iPods, I still love my 2nd gen nano best for listening.

  24. LeeF
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 08:55:03

    After 2 decades of listening to books on tape/CD in my car and only listening to those from the library, I made the leap to a nano and really enjoy having a subscription to Audible. (Special thanks to Lea Hensley at Speaking of Audiobooks on AAR and the Goodreads group Romance Ausdiobooks for helping me make the transition). After the death of the nano, I decided to try using the Audible app on my phone and there is no going back! Just love it.

  25. Janet
    Sep 02, 2012 @ 14:14:15

    @Ellen Thanks much for the Audible ACX tip. @MikiS When we hosted Simon Prebble (together with Barbara Rosenblatt) last year at my library, Simon admitted he was relieved there would be a new narrator for Stephanie Laurens books going forward…they were not his favorite assignment…;

  26. ms bookjunkie
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 09:50:10

    @Darlynne: Podcasts. THE EMPEROR’S EDGE is a podiobook or something.

%d bloggers like this: