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Review - iPod nano (with Photos)
Friday, September 9th, 2005 at 12:40 PM - by
iPod nano (US$199 - Apple Store) is a miracle of miniaturization. Stacked up against Apple's original efforts at putting 1,000 songs in your pocket, the nano's "Impossibly small." tag-line seems insufficient. Even the svelte and now surceased iPod mini seems like a jumbo Crayola crayon next to a black cabochon Cartier fountain pen.
If you feel smaller is better--and I realize not everyone does--then there's a lot to love about the new iPod nano: It's equally as unnoticeable in your pocket as the iPod shuffle and the razor-sharp screen is the smallest yet on an iPod, but it manages to display one more item in menus than the iPod mini's larger screen. It can also fits artist, album, and track name information for the playing song, plus artwork.
To accommodate the iPod nano's narrow body, Apple shrank not only the screen but also the ClickWheel. The donut pad is 3/8-inch wide, down from about 5/8-inch on the iPod and iPod mini. The center button remains the same size. The diminutive click wheels takes a bit of getting used to, requiring more precise thumb movements than other iPods.
Apple shaved more than just size with the iPod mini's successor, mind you, reducing capacity (by 2GB) and battery life (by about 4 hours). Like a magician that distracts the audience with one hand while the other prepares the next trick, Apple is hoping that consumers will be dazzled by the tiny form factor and color screen and not notice these changes. Or simply not care.
Most probably won't, but folks who compare the price per ounce of different sized boxes of the same breakfast cereal have even more incentive now to go for the higher-end iPod nano than they did with the iPod mini: the 4GB nano's 25 percent price premium over the 2GB model buys you twice as much room for music or photos.
Not that photo functionality is a very compelling reason to buy an iPod nano. Unlike the full-size iPod, the iPod nano can't hook up to a TV to display your photos and doesn't support Apple's camera connector for downloading photos on the fly. That leaves you with a mobile photo viewer that sports a screen likely smaller than your digital camera or cell phone. Couple that with the multi-megabyte size today's digital photos are and storing any quantity on the iPod nano significantly cuts down on space for songs.
Still, I find myself nitpicking to find any problems with the iPod nano. It's a device like none other out there and once again sets Apple far ahead of the competition. The biggest shortcoming I ran into with the iPod nano is its lack of FireWire support. You can still charge the nano over FireWire, but connecting it to your computer is strictly a USB affair, despite its standard iPod dock connector. Mac owners with iBooks or iMacs more than a couple years old that can't add USB 2.0 to their systems will find this especially annoying since transferring songs over USB 1.1 is a bit of an experience in patience, especially when that high-speed FireWire port is sitting idle.
We've witnessed the music player market becoming increasingly competitive since the first iPod debuted nearly four years ago. As others vie to keep up with or outpace Apple, packing features like color screens months or years ahead of Apple, the iPod nano demonstrates that not only does Apple still have it to be the market leader, it's probably not going to lose it any time soon.
Apple simply gets that the value of a product is best not measured in gigabytes or bells and whistles but in the joy that using it brings to its owner. In that respect, iPod nano is the best to date.
For iPod nano, Apple gets back in black
Included dock adapter is for a future (as yet unreleased) iPod dock
As thick (or thin) as five credit cards
The usual suspects
The usual suspects...lying down
Just The Facts
Pros: Tiny, fun, and perfectly functional; quick start-up, sharp screen
Cons: No FireWire syncing, still super prone to scratches and scuffs
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