Digital Entertainment Ecosystem: iPod Nano

March 26, 2007

In my post on Apple TV I mentioned that I will make a series of posts describing the tools I use to watch/listen to digital entertainment. This is the first post in my “Digital Entertainment Ecosystem” series.

I own a first generation 2GB iPod Nano and it is used almost exclusively to listen to podcasts. The key feature that makes it such a good podcast listening device, for me, is the bookmarking feature. The Nano will keep track of how much of a podcast I have listened to and sync this information with iTunes.

iTunes acts as a podcast receiver or podcatcher. Podcasts publish RSS feeds much like Blogs do. You subscribe to a Podcast and your podcatcher checks for updates and downloads the associated audio file. RSS was extended with an enclosure tag to support podcast downloads.

So I run iTunes all the time on my kitchen PC and sync the Nano there. iTunes has a feature called “smart playlists” that let me organize podcasts into ShortPodcasts (<6min), MedPodcasts (6min – 20min), and LongPodcasts (>20min). Before a drive I will copy podcasts from the smart playlists into a MorningCommute or CottageDrive playlist that syncs automatically to the Nano. I choose what to copy based on time and stuff I like best. My short MorningCommute is filled with ShortPodcasts like NPR: 7am News Summary, The Onion Radio News, and Our Ocean World. The longer podcasts are saved for longer drives and are mostly made up from public radio podcasts from NPR in the US, ABC in Australia, and CBC in Canada with a mixture of technology, economics, and science podcasts from other sources.

I connect the Nano to my car stereo using a casette adapter. I have to remember to stop the Nano when I stop the car which is a pain. The bookmarking feature comes in handy when I arrive home with a partially played podcast playlist. After syncing the Nano, I can then listen to the playlist on my kitchen PC where I left off. I have a dock that attaches to my home theater system as well but I tend to listen to podcasts either in my car or while doing kitchen stuff.