By Andrew Liszewski
Sometimes a product becomes incredibly popular for a reason not originally intended by the manufacturer. It’s often referred to as its ‘killer app’ and for the latest generation iPod Nano the inclusion of a simple analog clock on the lock screen meant that it could double as a fairly capable, albeit chunky, watch. And so from the day it was announced the race was on for third-party accessory makers to come up with the perfect watch band solution.
While the HEX definitely wasn’t the first Nano watch band to hit market, I still think it’s one of the best options you can buy right now. And that’s talking from experience, having tried and tested countless other Nano watch band alternatives at CES this year. And trust me, there were plenty to be tested. So if you want to know why the HEX is worth your $29.95 (plus the cost of the iPod Nano 6G) check out my full review after the jump.
Now I understand that some people aren’t so keen on plastic-looking watches and prefer something a bit more sophisticated like stainless steel or leather, but I think the use of soft silicone suits the HEX very well. It still comes across as being pretty ‘hip’ and since it’s available in 9 different colors there should be a shade that suits everyone’s tastes.
The HEX band was also the first on the market to completely envelope the Nano 6G, and personally I think that technique works the best. The first watch bands that came out attached to the Nano via its clip, and honestly that technique never seemed that secure to me. But there is no chance the Nano is going to fall out of the HEX band while it’s being worn, no matter how physical you’re being. The use of soft silicone also makes it incredibly easy to insert and remove the Nano, and unfortunately I can’t say that about every watch band accessory I’ve tried.
In fact the only part of the HEX band that’s not made from soft silicone is the clasp on the strap. It’s made from sturdy plastic instead, understandably, but perfectly matches the color of the rest of the watch band. And while the Nano itself might not be water or weatherproof, the HEX band certainly is. If you happen to get it sweaty during a workout or a run, it’s as easy to clean as sticking it under a faucet, with the Nano removed of course.
There’s not much to see on the back of the HEX watch band, save for a hole behind the Nano that’s probably there to let air escape while you’re inserting it. But I do like the use of the repeating “HEX” pattern on the underside of the strap. Presumably if you wear it tight enough your wrists will be HEX branded as well.
While the Nano 6G isn’t completely protected and covered while it’s in the HEX watch band (you obviously need to be able to access the touch screen) the buttons and ports do remain covered giving it some level of protection against the elements. The lock and volume buttons obviously aren’t directly accessible while the Nano’s inside the band, but a set of ‘push-through’ silicone buttons still give you easy access to them.
And while the Nano 6G’s headphone port can’t remain covered all the time unless you never intend to use it as an MP3 player, the HEX band includes a built-in plug that keeps the port sealed up when you’re not listening to music. It’s easy to remove when needed though, and since it’s tethered to the HEX band there’s no chance it’s going to get lost.
So there you have it. For the purpose of this review I’m not going to comment on how well the iPod Nano 6G actually serves as a timepiece, because quite frankly, it’s not so great. But when compared to other MP3 capable ‘gray-market’ watches I’ve encountered over the years, it’s definitely a far better alternative. When it comes to style, the look and feel of the Nano in the HEX band probably isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but if functionality is a bigger concern for you, I really don’t think there’s a better solution than the HEX right now. And don’t forget that the company has recently announced a new version, the Sport Watch Band, which will also accomodate the Nike Plus dongle via the Nano’s dock connector.
+ At $29.95 it’s not terribly expensive for one of the best iPod Nano 6G watch bands on the market.
+ Available in 9 colors to match your Nano or your style.
+ Use of soft silicone makes it incredibly easy to insert and remove your Nano and also serves to give it some level of protection against the elements.
+ Securely holds your Nano in place, there’s no chance it’s going to fall out even during extreme physical activities.
+ Headphone port remains protected when not in use thanks to a built-in plug.
– Doesn’t completely protect the Nano, so you’ll want to avoid things like being out in the rain while wearing it.
– Some may not like the ‘plastic’ look of silicone.
HEX Original iPod Nano Watch Band – $29.95
If you have any questions about the HEX iPod Nano watch band you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.