Zen Nano Plus MP3 Player and voice recorder.

I bought it for the voice recorder capability...it was the smallest one I could find, with decent capacity (1 gig), that runs on a single AAA battery.

I have made a conscious decision to purchase things that run on either AA or AAA batteries. In fact all the battery powered accessory items that I carry including my flashlight, alarm clock, the Zen Nano Plus, my Canon 580EX, all run on AA or AAA batteries. That way I am never in a situation where any of my electronic stuff is inoperable. At worst I can pull batteries out of one device to power up another, but I have charged spares ready to go because I carry the Panasonic charger See my battery and charger page here Of course, my camera bodies and computer) run proprietary batteries and there is no way around that..

Anyway, back to the Nano

The Zen Nano come in capacities like 512, 1GB, and by now probably even higher...the 1 Gig holds like 500 songs, and records for hours...more than enough for me.

The Nano Plus is micro-sized, and since it's powered by a single AAA battery which is important to me. Sound quality is quite good when listening to music. In terms of recording ability...it has a built in microphone which does a fairly good job of with voices when I am doing an interview and I can capture sounds or other audio in a quality which works well enough for me.(I hope to post an example here some time in the near future).

On the older models the USB connector was built into the unit. Now, it requires an external lead to hook up to your PC. It uses a standard mini-USB connector, but it is still an extra item you need to carry with you. The reason is that the older model, with the built in USB was not compatible with my Sony Vaio VGN S260 because of the Vaio's recessed USB port, and the design of the Nano. Physically they two items would not work, so I was forced to get the Nano.

I currently use the belt clip,(but don't trust it all that much), and perhaps will try wearing it around my neck to see if that works better.

Anyway, it's a great way to capture sounds and voices while I am working. (Someone is going to email me and say that my Canon Mark II has a voice recorder feature which I could use instead....yep, I know that but it's just too difficult and awkward to use for interviews)

UPDATE March 2006: I received an email from Lou Petkus, who was researching MP3 players with recording capability, Lou was looking for some details about the unit when he came across this review page. Anyway to make a long story short Lou has developed an amazing microphone attachment which, when combined with the Zen Nano Plus, can record in stereo, with CD quality sound. Lou has asked me to test the device in the field on my upcoming assignment in India, and Lou will be using his on his upcoming Alaska road trip which you can follow here.

Stay tuned to updates here and on Lou's page....this little amplified mic might just be ticket for those of you looking to record sounds, music and interviews in the field using the smallest lightest MP3 system available.

photo courstey of Lou Petkus

My Zen Nano plus headphones always seemed to get tangled so I purchased
this Panasonic pair which has a wind up storage system to keep things tidy when not in use.