A look at the iPod mini | iLounge Article


A look at the iPod mini

While at Macworld, I had the chance to check out Apple’s brand new iPod mini. Straight from the show floor, here’s iLounge’s first official take on the little player.

Just Big Enough for a Scroll Wheel

The pictures show just how much smaller the iPod mini is by comparison to its older, bigger brother. As Apple notes, iPod mini is about the width and height of a business card, but thicker (3.6” high by 2.0” wide by 0.5” deep). As noted by weblogger John Gruber, “The iPod mini weighs 33 percent less (104 vs. 158 grams) and takes up 41 percent less space (3.6 vs. 6.1 cubic inches).” Despite my large hands, the mini fit comfortably in my palm: its rounded sides and footprint evoke a small “candybar” style cellular phone, and I found the newly integrated wheel with buttons to be easy to use.


As the iPod mini represents an entirely new case and body design for Apple, most of the older iPod’s features have been moved or made smaller to accommodate the smaller body. The touchwheel is roughly the same size as the iPod’s, but now has four integrated function buttons (Menu, Play/Pause, Back and Forward) to replace the four face buttons from both prior iPod designs. But how does it feel? In our limited preview, we thought that the new wheel design was great - scrolling and pushing the button with one motion is a joy. You still slide your finger around the wheel to scroll, but each icon on the wheel represents a button; simply depress it and the corresponding action occurs (Play/Pause, Back, etc.). Those that found the touch buttons on the iPod to be a bit over-sensitive will agree that this is just a better way of navigating menus.

Tradeoffs: Saying Goodbye to Old Conventions and Peripherals (Again)

The pictures show it all: for the first time in iPod design, the LCD display on the iPod mini has been shrunk noticeably in order to accommodate the smaller form factor. At a 1.67” size (16.5% smaller than the iPod’s 2” LCD), the new screen somewhat hinders the readability of long song names in your playlists, truncating song titles by 2 or 3 characters under the iPod’s larger display. The LCD has the same backlight and greyscale output as the iPod. Is it going to glow white? Blue? Well, we won’t open that can of worms right now.


Peeking at the top of the mini, Apple has moved the earphone port to the right and flipped the ‘Hold’ switch to the left. The positioning (and changes to the technology inside the mini) may well complicate or preclude the use of older iPod peripherals such as Belkin’s Voice Recorder, though Apple’s going out of its way to say that the mini is merely a music player, nothing more. The top and bottom of the iPod mini are covered in a white plastic, as opposed to the iPod’s metal finish. The bottom of the mini features the same dock connector as the iPod, albeit with less iPod on either side, making the device unsuitable for use with older iPod docks.

New Metal, New Holes, Less Smears

If you look closely at the bottom of the mini (above), you’ll notice two small holes. One’s on each end in the metal, both just outside of the white plastic area. Their purpose: to attach 3rd-party add-on devices. A small FM transmitter? ...An extra battery pack? The mind races.


You’ll also notice all the fingerprints on the iPod 20GB (above) compared to the mini. An Apple representative said that the mini depicted above was handled by people all day long, but it shows no sign of smudges or finger prints - a nice feature of the mini, and a potential boon for all of us who have been obsessively cleaning and shining the rear mirror surface of our original iPods. The metal casing of the mini is anodized aluminum with a matte finish.

Even an iPod Owner is Anxiously Awaiting iPod mini

All in all, I was pleased with the new iPod mini. Teens and the fashion conscious will be buying minis to “accessorize,” and surely this will be the workout-ready iPod athletes have been waiting for. But how about the rest of us? Only time will tell if the mini can equal the iPod in sales and ‘cool’ factor. I’ll have a full review posted as soon as my mini (silver) arrives. Apple says it will begin to ship minis in February, with worldwide distribution to follow in April.

« The iPod mini Reaction Roundup

How to create smart playlists in iTunes »

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So…. Gorgeous.

I really hope the 4G full-size iPods have the same anodized aluminum finish/style with the new scroll wheel as well.  I love the construction of the new mini, and when I see a full-size version of the iPod with the construction of the mini and 40+GB capacity, I’ll purchase it immediately.  :-D

Posted by Jerrod H. in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 2:01 PM (CST)


I really love the new click wheel! I think it’s a great step forward in the ipod’s evolution, and the silver aluminum finish is perfect… not all to intersted in the colors, but hey my personal taste is but a portion of all consumers. It’s on my list of things to get!

Posted by tao in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 2:29 PM (CST)


lovin’ it so much,
but i’m already dating her older sister,
and i won’t cheat on her :P

Posted by pepijn in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 3:23 PM (CST)


The article should be corrected to say the mini iPod is 2.0” wide, not 2.9”.  I kept looking at the picture thinking there’s no way that thing is 2.9” wide unless it’s some weird angle!  After pulling out my credit card and realizing the mini is even smaller than that, I’m really thinking about getting one.

Posted by chinhster in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 3:27 PM (CST)


i really wonder how you would manage to reset it or force it into firewire mode since it seems wuite difficult to press two buttons at the same time?!

Posted by marco in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 3:42 PM (CST)


you spread your fingers.

Posted by dav in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 3:47 PM (CST)


I have way too much music for a minipod… however I hope that the anodised finish and the new click wheel make it to the next gen of ipods.

Posted by camson in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 3:51 PM (CST)


spread your fingers…well, thats actually a good idea…but wait…oh, thats what i already thought of…anyone who understood my question?

Posted by marco in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 4:23 PM (CST)


One of the news items here linked to a story that mentioned the “two buttons at the same time” question.  Apparently it is possible to press two buttons on opposite sides of the scroll wheel at the same time, which can reset the mini, and then pressing two different buttons directs you to a diagnostic menu where you can select a variety of options (including firewire disk mode, I imagine).

Posted by Meredith in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 4:56 PM (CST)


sorry marco, I just had to say it :-p

Posted by dav in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 4:59 PM (CST)


I already ordered one (pink) for my wife’s Valentine’s Day gift - those things are sweet!
And, I gotta tell ya, I’ll likely order one for myself - the style, quality, and size rock.
They will sell, but they will sell more once the drives grow and/or the price drops.

Posted by sb in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 7:24 PM (CST)


anyone else hear that the power per channel(mw) was lowered? I have heard a couple people say that you have to turn it up more to equal the output of the 3rd gen ipods?

Posted by Halvie in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 8:16 PM (CST)


ridiculous machine…
1st point: there was a MUVO 4Giga before this mini ipod…sorry guys, this ipod is an imitation concept and that muvo is way cheaper… Apple keeps loosing points (there are superior devices that the real ipod… and for less)

this mini is UGLY! and I of course, like any person with a minimum sense of style prefer the original one… that back mirror is beautifull and is the reason why the ipod is so attractive…this new alluminium crap in the mini is = to Jukebox NX! same crap… nothing speacial! and yu guys like it? just because fo teh fingerprints issue (whihc is perfectly normal?) BAH!
idiots… sorry, but it’s pure stupidity.
liek this mini ipod: expensive, ugly, looks like it’s been cut off, ugly colours… no extra funtions…
a sell out…
fuck it! I hope the 4G has NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT ON

the only positive thing: the whell (perhaps…)

Posted by Jo in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 9:45 PM (CST)


Joao, you’re a liar or an idiot!

The Muvo 1.5G is $200 and the 4Gig lists at $350. It is “on sale” right now for $299 or $50 more than the iPod mini. Although this is as small as the mini, it has a display that is totally unusable and micro controls that will not be nearly as easy to work with as the iPod mini.

The iPod was successful not only because it was small and stylish, but because it had a killer interface. Apple didn’t compromise anything and people were willing to pay the price. The mini is the same thing all over again.

BTW - I have not seen this in person but it appears that everyone who has, really likes the look.

Posted by Doug Petrosky in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 10:38 PM (CST)


wow joao you sound real smart and persuasive :)

if u think everyone likes exactly what u like… who’s stupid?

my pink mini is on the way… wish it was febuary!

Posted by Mac Beth in Irvine, CA on January 14, 2004 at 11:06 PM (CST)


ipod mini is listed at $249.00 at Amazon.com for pre order

Posted by Paul Rouse in Irvine, CA on January 15, 2004 at 1:55 AM (CST)


Amazon price is correct.  $249 is suggested list price.  So far the color most ordered is silver.  Interestingly the “new” wheel is very similar to the original one with the buttons around it.  Only the way it works is slightly different.

Posted by Peter in Irvine, CA on January 15, 2004 at 6:18 AM (CST)


I have a first generation iPod and love its scroll wheel.  My music library is far too large for its 5GB disk, but I hold onto it as I dislike the current wheels on the full sized ipods

Hopefully this new wheel will come to the full sized line!

Posted by steve in Irvine, CA on January 15, 2004 at 6:52 AM (CST)


You mentioned the small holes in the bottom of the iPod mini….are you sure they are for 3rd party devices?  I had read that the iPod mini was supposed to be easier to open up in order to replace batteries and such, and since most 3rd party developers are more than likely going to use the dock port for anything, I would guess that the small holes are nothing more than screw holes.

Posted by rs in Irvine, CA on January 15, 2004 at 6:58 AM (CST)


Wow…they edited screw holes…..  so you know what I was saying…they are like nails, but you use a screwdriver to fasten them.

Also this business about your entire library fitting on it….It never was really intended to put all your music on it…it was simply intended to be smaller and easier to use while doing more physical activities, to compete with the flash technology ones that are great because they are small and easy to use while working out and so forth.  And I know I cannot fit all of my music on one of those flash ones.  They simply serve a different purpose.  Might I remind you that it will still take more than 3 days listening to your iPod continuously before you will hear every song on a 4 GB drive.

Posted by rs in Irvine, CA on January 15, 2004 at 7:06 AM (CST)

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