Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Probably the most dramatic departure from all its previous iterations, the 6th Generation iPod Touch completely renovates the concept of Apple's most popular music player. Now with multi-touch and with a smaller than ever form factor, the iPod Nano raises eyebrows not just for what's been added but also for what has been removed.
Available at the Apple Store and most tech retailers, the iPod Nano $ 160 (8GB) and $190 (16GB) reinvents the genre of the portable music player by doing away with the iconic clickwheel that's been the sole control feature for iPods since the very first one shipped in 2001. This plus the reduced screen size makes the iPod Nano look and feel unbelievably small and waferlike.
Even with the case, the new Nano makes its predecessors look large by comparison. Ironically, as the middle iPod product between the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Touch, the Nano clearly borrows elements from both. It takes the touch approach and faux iOS look, feel and dynamics from the larger iPod Touch while the lilliputian size, thin profile and clip are clearly from the Shuffle. The + and - round volume buttons, however, are clearly inspired by the iPhone 4.
The i.54 inch touchscreen is a wonder to behold and is fast and responsive to use. The 220 pixel per inch screen really shines when you are checking out album art on the device. The screen itself isn't ultra-vivid like that of the iPhone, nor does it have to be. In terms of multi-touch, sausage fingers notwithstanding, anyone should be able to go with the swipe, pinch to zoom and rotate function of the screen. This is multi-touch at its most basic with only up to two points of contact.
We're just wondering if the glass used in the iPod Nano is as tough as that on the iPhone 4. Since this is device that has its screen exposed most of the time, we hope that it is suitably scratch proof.
Sound quality using our favourite Creative earbuds was just as good or better than the previous iPod Nano. This also uses the shake-to-shuffle feature so make sure to toggle it accordingly before going jogging as there's nothing more annoying than having unwanted songs come in when you're moving about.
In terms of specs, the iPod Nano brings all the niceties we've expected from a music player. It is bundled with an accelerometer which can be used in tandem with the built-in pedometer. Nike+ enthusiasts will need to plug in the IR receiver that communicates with the shoe component in order to get the app working. You get an FM radio which has the cool feature of being able to Live Pause broadcasts for 15 minutes so you don't miss out on your radio shows.
The new iPod Nano boasts 24-hour music playback on a full charge which is the same amount that the previous version offered but more remarkable in this case since the device is so much smaller. A number of people have commented that with a nice strap, the iPod Nano would make an excellent wristwatch and while this is a cool and geeky idea, it will probably take its toll on battery life.
Overall operation is straightforward and easy. Simply wipe back and forth to navigate and press the items you want to activate. The icon based menu is more intuitive and less onerous than the scrollng setup of iPod Nanos of the past.
Apple Giveth and Apple Taketh away
The iPod Nano seems to be one product that Apple doesn't mind experimenting with. It was thin and plastic and then they added aluminum. Then, they made it fat and stubby but with a bigger screen. Not happy with that version, they made it thin again and flipped the screen. Then they made the screen bigger and added HD Video recording.
Whew...Now they made it even smaller, added the clip, ditched the ability to record or playback video plus tossed away all the extra functionality like a World Clock and the ability to play games. You can still look at photos which is cool. The new Nano also has the inherent ability to record voice memos (provided you buy the headphones with the Mic-in capability).
Despite all the features that have been removed, you really do get a pretty robust music-centric uber-portable player that will keep most users happy through long-hours of enjoying their music and podcasts. We think its pretty darn cool that you can have over 1,000 songs in something that's barely larger than a postage stamp. Once you use that screen to navigate tunes it just makes the venerable clickwheel and its endless scrolling feel outdated.
Rating: 4 out of 5