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iPod nano 4G: a Zune-alike?

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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It may be hard to believe, but from what we’ve now heard from multiple sources, it’s true: the fourth-generation iPod nano will look like… a Microsoft Zune. Well, sort of.

Contradicting speculation that Apple was planning to transform the new nano into a miniature iPod touch, complete with a smaller touchscreen, we’ve been told that this year’s nano upgrade will go in a different direction. Described by one source as looking like “a Zune Flash… or whatever it’s called,” the new nano has a vertically (tall) oriented display with a Click Wheel underneath, preserving the button-based control scheme that users have found easiest to use without looking down at the screen. The new nano’s screen will gain the same 1.5:1 widescreen aspect ratio as the iPhone and iPod touch, versus the 1.33:1 ratio of the prior iPod nano and iPod classic, and you’ll rotate the device to watch videos on it.

image

To fit the screen and Click Wheel neatly together, the new nano will adopt a form factor that shifts away from the almost square dimensions of the 2007 third-generation nano back towards the general shape of the first- and second-generation models. As one of our sources noted, it’s a surprise that the new nano will be bigger than the prior model, but the goal appears to be preservation of all of the prior model’s usability while adding a bigger screen, and there aren’t many other ways to accomplish that goal.

Our sources also indicated that rumors that the device will have a multi-colored body are most likely inaccurate. A single-colored anodized aluminum frame akin to prior iPod nanos will apparently be used, with each nano offered in one color. Obviously, we’ll see what the real story is when Apple introduces the new nano later this year, but our sources are extremely confident in the accuracy of these details.

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Comments

1

Yeah, some friends of mine have the older style Nano, and they said they were looking at getting another Nano, but they really prefer the older style over the new short/fat/thick model.

Just one data point.

Posted by dave on July 29, 2008 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

2

Uhh, it looks like an iPod mini actually (though I am sure it would be skinnier) .  Remember those ?  I have a 4GB green one.

Posted by Robert on July 29, 2008 at 2:40 PM (PDT)

3

I hope it does get smaller. But if it will look almost identical to the ps’d pic above, I’ll pass. It might look like one of those iPod knockoffs that you see on the street.

Posted by rob_saldana on July 29, 2008 at 3:10 PM (PDT)

4

Don’t forget when the latest Nano had pics leaked people umped on the look for DAYS until it was released and people actually saw and held it… then people liked it.

So I’m reserving judgement for now. Personally, I don’t see how Apple will sell the Nano unless it drops the price - the Touch (especially whatever the revised Touch will be in a few weeks) offers more bang for the buck.

Posted by Jesco on July 29, 2008 at 3:51 PM (PDT)

5

I bet its only slightly bigger than the current generation + touch screen instead of wheel.

Book it.

Posted by Lee on July 29, 2008 at 3:59 PM (PDT)

6

Will the click wheel rotate when the screen rotates?  No?  That’s one advantage to a touch interface.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on July 29, 2008 at 4:16 PM (PDT)

7

I would rather see a shrunken Touch.

Posted by akatsuki on July 29, 2008 at 4:21 PM (PDT)

8

i think the actual form factor is WAY better. I like it smaller and it isn´t so fatty as many people say. It is almost as thin as the previous models. But however, i thought that the new nanos will be a whole screen with multitouch.

Posted by steven on July 29, 2008 at 5:14 PM (PDT)

9

I can see the use for a click wheel still.  I just bought an iPhone 3G and after a couple of weeks of using it, I have to say that it’s nice in the car to have a way to orient myself in the display without looking.  I bet they could make the iPod controls more oriented to edges of the screen, but still.

Besides that, a nano-touch would be more expensive to produce with the extra hardware for sensing orientation and movement.

My 2 cents are that the nano and touch are going to be quite reduced in price as well as the appletv.  I think they’ll add some cool features to the appletv as well right before the holidays.  That’s where there’s more market pressure and vulnerability.

Posted by Jeremy on July 29, 2008 at 5:28 PM (PDT)

10

noooo… =/
I like the “fatty” model better >_>

I think I’ll have to get one soon =P

Posted by Renato on July 29, 2008 at 6:10 PM (PDT)

11

I think the most important question is what will happen to the iPod Classic. It has had the same screen for almost 3 years, since the introduction of the 5G iPod in October 2005. I believe that they are not killing the iPod Classic line this year, since iPod Touch’s FLASH storage can offer capacities not even close to 160 GB for a decent price point. However, they have to make a major update on that version to get people interested again. I don’t think a HD based iPod Touch would be a good idea, since the Whole OS would be pretty slow with a hard drive, altough I think it could work if they created a device with 2GB flash memory to store the OS, and applications and a HD to store all media. It will certainly be interesting to see what updates Apple brings us in September.

Posted by Cask on July 29, 2008 at 6:20 PM (PDT)

12

I personally do not aggree with anything that says touchscreen nano. It would be stupid. I do however thing that the touch and nano could be merged. Think extremely thin and lightweight touch. This is what I think will happen with the MacBook/air. And I rekon they will replace the classic with the touch?? All they have to do is to squeeze a bit more memory into it.

Posted by andrew on July 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM (PDT)

13

@Cask:
What!!! You can’t compare the performance between the Flash Memory on the Touch and the HD found on the iPod Classic, for reference I actually sync all 80GB on the Classic in the same time I sync on the 32GB Touch. I personally think that the new iPod will be the Touch with a less battery consuming HD and the same capacities.

Posted by victor871129 on July 30, 2008 at 1:18 AM (PDT)

14

“there aren’t too many ways to do that”

But it there is one that hasn’t been covered—moving the click wheel to the back of the iPod.  Sounds weird at first, but they’re keeping the click wheel for people who don’t want to have to look at it to control it.  When you’re watching a video you don’t need to control it.  Simple visual feedback will make a rear-facing clickwheel instantly intuitive.

As someone who ran with a shuffle and now runs with a 3g Nano, I can tell you right now, I would prefer either of them to that unwieldy artist’s depiction bouncing around in my shorts.

Posted by Matt on July 30, 2008 at 1:37 AM (PDT)

15

please pardon my misquotation of the article (and my thanks if you can correct it!)

Posted by Matt on July 30, 2008 at 1:42 AM (PDT)

16

Looks like a stretched out iPod Mini.  Saying that I loved the mini.

Posted by chas on July 30, 2008 at 3:03 AM (PDT)

17

I seriously hope, that what’s on the picture, doesn’t happen. I very much like what the iPods look like currently, and I don’t see a big reason why Apple should lose the 3-gen square-like design.

Posted by Kaspar 15 on July 30, 2008 at 3:03 AM (PDT)

18

Maybe there won’t be a new nano? The mini only lasted 2 generations, and right now the nano is at 3. I think that the touch was a market experiment to see what the popularity of a touchscreen iPod without contract/phone was, and since it is quite popular I think the next nano will be the current touch, while the classic may be a touch with a harddrive, and a new touch with GPS may be Apple’s real entry into the GPS market.

Posted by Markintellect on July 30, 2008 at 4:30 AM (PDT)

19

I’ve bought both an iPod mini and iPod nano 2G for my girlfriend. I prefer their elongated form factor to the fatty nano, which feels awkward. The larger screen is nice, though.

Squeezing a touch screen down to that size could be a challenge, but would be pretty nice. The scroll wheel is still an extremely efficient controller, I don’t see it disappearing entirely just yet.

Merging the iPod Classic and touch would be a good move, but ONLY if it retained the capacity of the current Classic. Even 80GB of the low-end model is constraining. I use Apple Lossless to rip the majority of my music and will continue to do so.

Posted by Mr. Reeee on July 30, 2008 at 4:52 AM (PDT)

20

This is for me what the 3rd gen nano should have been.  I thought the form factor of the 2nd gen nano was just about perfect.  If you can get a bigger screen in there for widescreen video without making it wider, I say go for it.  I have no problem turning my iPhone on its side to watch video, I’d have no problem doing the same with the nano.  Actually, I probably wouldn’t watch much video on the nano- I just want a skinny super-tough click-wheel flash player with a screen.  That said, the 3rd gen nano is not without its charms and feels much better in hand than I thought it would based on photos and renderings.

Posted by Dyvim on July 30, 2008 at 4:56 AM (PDT)

21

Um, Markintellect (heh), for all intents and purposes, the mini became the nano. It has been Apple’s best selling product line for well over four years, they’re not going to discontinue it in favor of a poorer selling alternative (that doesn’t even appeal to the same market anyhow).

The markup above is what I figured they were going to do with the nano last year anyhow. You can have the clickwheel and the widescreen in a form factor not any bigger (or only very slightly bigger) than the 2G nano, which was, imo, their best iPod of any capacity or interface to date.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on July 30, 2008 at 6:48 AM (PDT)

22

That new nano looks awesome! I loved the 1st and 2nd gen nano’s and hated when they moved to the fat ones. I am sorry but who ever thinks those fat ones are nice has never owned a 1st or 2nd gen!

Posted by Alex on July 30, 2008 at 6:49 AM (PDT)

23

This looks like the previous gen nano with a stretched screen. No thanks. I like the current nano much better. My wife had an older nano and it was too tall. Might as well get a Zune if you like that format. I would rather have a software update with more features. iTunes and the current ipod software is so tired.

Posted by JonV on July 30, 2008 at 6:50 AM (PDT)

24

I LOVED the 2G Nano.  It was perfect in my opinion.  The metal casing made it tough and durable and the form factor made it perfect for running while allowing for more capacity than the Shuffle.  The 3G Nano is just too wide to wear comfortably in an armband.  I’d definitely buy a newer one if they went back to the narrow body.  I never put videos on my Nano simply because the memory capacity is so limited, but I’d gladly accept a wider/longer screen if it meant not having a wide-bodied player.

Posted by Rob on July 30, 2008 at 8:42 AM (PDT)

25

I like it as it looks similar to my current nano. Would like to see the memory upped a bit now.

Posted by Colonel Kojak Slaphead the Third on July 30, 2008 at 9:29 AM (PDT)

26

I buy all the iPods but passed on the 3Gen nano.  I wanted to preserve the old form factor - the addition of video was not enough to make me give that up.  Will jump at the new slim nano if there is a 16GB or 32GB especially.

Posted by Art M. on July 30, 2008 at 10:41 AM (PDT)

27

It would be better the iPod was used sideways. Then it wouldn’t look so weird.

Posted by Oscar M. on July 30, 2008 at 2:27 PM (PDT)

28

I liked both the 2G and 3G nanos. I really like the 3G nano that I have now - for me, the form factor is perfect.  The biggest disadvantage for the proposed 4G style for me is the same problem that my Touch has - I watch video podcasts with my nano docked in a speaker system.  This won’t be possible with my current speakers since I can’t rotate the iPod’s screen while it is in the dock. I would love to have bigger capacity. 16 Gb would be nice and 32 Gb would be FANTASTIC, but it will be a very tough decision on whether or not to buy one with the proposed screen orientation.

Posted by oilseeker on July 30, 2008 at 2:41 PM (PDT)

29

I would think this would be better if the scroll wheel slid behind the display.  This way, you don’t have to rotate the device and you can put it in a dock and still retain the widescreen.

It would be comparable to the design of the Zen except that the screen is wider to take up the whole screen and if given slight touch screen capabilities, you can replace the general navigation buttons or use the click wheel.

Posted by Lauren Glenn on July 30, 2008 at 6:40 PM (PDT)

30

At Victor, yeah synching on the classic is a lot faster on the classic compared to the iPhone / iPod Touch, however, during actual on iPod usage, iPhone/iPod Touch is a lot faster when loading stuff, since they don’t have to fire up the hard drive and spin it. Try coverflow on iPhone and then try it on iPod classic and see which performs better. Sure there is a processor difference as well. but most of the lag comes from reading the hard drive. That’s why I suggest that an hybrid flash memory/HD drive might be a solution for a high capacity ipod touch. Playback of a song on an iphone is almost instant, but on a classic it takes a few seconds to load the songs into the device’s memory.

Posted by cask on July 30, 2008 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

31

I LIKE THIS DESIGN OF IPOD NANO
AMAZING CLASSIC PRETTY

Posted by Wayne on July 31, 2008 at 2:40 AM (PDT)

32

Awesome if true.  I am looking at my 2nd gen right now and all of a sudden it looks like so much space is wasted on it, above and below the clickwheel, that could have gone to increased screen space.

But the real question is, what about capacity?  I won’t buy another one until they offer me at least 16 gig.  Until then, I am using rotating smart playlists on my 4 gig.

Posted by Deb on July 31, 2008 at 10:24 AM (PDT)

33

Widescreen? I rather get my podcasts wirelessly. That would be much better as I listern to my podcasts daily and videos on a nano not that much

Posted by Sid32 on August 1, 2008 at 1:29 AM (PDT)

34

When???

I want to know when the new nano comes out. I need a new model before I go overseas 18 September

I’m happy with anything more than 8GB and as small as possible (the touch is too big, my gym shorts would fall down wearing it!)

Posted by dave on August 1, 2008 at 4:57 PM (PDT)

35

If they do do this, I believe that they will have to keep the clickwheel, as Steve has notably expressed his dislike for styli, and the UI of the Ipod touch would not work well on a shrunken screen.  Some of the lesser used button of the ipod touch software are already approaching too small. 

Apple could concievably create a new interface for the nano that is radically simplyfied touch interface (I am like that the screen would show two or three big app buttons and you could swipe to go between them and push to enter the app.) 

But because of the this I bet that they will keep the clickwheel, afterall the nano is one of the more budget ipods and the click is much more conveinent for exercise.  Also if they did create a touch nano, that would leave the classic and the shuffle as the only ‘hard-buttoned’ players, something that would make the classic look ancient despite its positive attributes.

However, to keep the clickwheel on the nano, I bet apple would pull out some magic with the buttons on the clickwheel.  I am willing to bet that when you turn the device to watch a movie, somehow the buttons would change.  I don’t know if they would be mini screens or what, but I think having buttons that don’t match up to their functions would really annoy Señor Jobs.

Posted by Cope on August 2, 2008 at 10:27 PM (PDT)

36

HEY…I actually remembered my password. (okay, senior moment has passed…)

Every time I dink around with my wife’s 3G nano, I always end up shaking my head and end up running back to my 2G unit. That puny click wheel on the 3G just doesn’t do it for me. Assuming Apple gets all retro (can you really get retro with a design that just was retired just a year or so ago?) and revisites the 2G with the 4G, I would say that it’s a no-brainer in terms of appeal. But somehow I don’t really see Apple going all nostalgic and resuscitating the 2G’s look…that’s so backwards thinking. ‘Sides, I still think the 2G sounds nicer.

But the possible proportions and layout of this potential 4G are certainly moving in the right direction for achieving a better vid-friendly screen and front panel, even if I question whether the chassis will actually look “2G”. I have the Zune 8, and its LCD has been for me considerably more preferable to that of the 3G nano’s, even if not much else is.

Even though I “upgrade” far more often than I should, I’ve intently stayed away from Apple with their last round of players, mostly because I didn’t see the inherent value in eny of their designs this time around as I have in the past. Both my Sony NWZ-A818 and 32GB Zen X-Fi flash players have been sonic and UI revelations, something that never would’ve happened for me had Apple not failed to light that spark under me. However, neither has the benefit of iTunes file management, so despite the massive girth that the old program has gained I’d be willing to look at another nano once again.

As long as it’s not another “flatty” (I never considered the 3G fat, just squashed).

Posted by flatline response on August 4, 2008 at 6:10 PM (PDT)

37

This is no way an iPod, because…

THE CLICK-WHEEL WON’T WORK AS PICTURED.

When you rotate the iPod (assuming its a click-wheels) the Menu button will be on the left. This will be confusing. And what about left-right hand. A left handed person, would rotate the iPod left and a right handed person, would rotate the iPod right.  IT JUST WOULDN’T WORK.

Posted by Simon on August 7, 2008 at 1:18 PM (PDT)

38

I like the current nanos.  It helps not to think of them as fat nanos, but instead as short classics.  I have played many ipod games though and because they are continuing to make those, I think that they wont change the sooooo much.  then the games wouldn’t play right.  maybe if the kinda copy the new moto rocker and have the changing buttons but still…  I think for a nano touch it would be cool if it had the same interface as the new nanos and you would scroll through the lists instead of apps.

Posted by Dan Lipson on August 10, 2008 at 12:12 PM (PDT)

39

Fat???!!!?!

They’re tiny! I admit when I saw pics of the latest Nanos, I wasn’t too impressed. But, when I checked them out at the Apple store, I actually really liked them.. much more than the 2nd gen. I had 1st and 2nd gen Nanos, and I think the latest ones look great.

Anyone who thinks they’re ‘fat’ must have tiny hands.

Posted by kloan on August 10, 2008 at 2:52 PM (PDT)

40

I really hope this is not what apple does with the nano. I thought that they might make the new nano like a ipod touch (you know the 3rd gen nano that size except one small screen with all of the ipod touch features and thinness.) You know try and make all of their ipod’s touch screens except the ipod classic (cause that should stay the original ipod with the click wheel and screen). Even the ipod shuffle a VERY tiny touch screen that only has those four controls (play, pause, rewind, fast foward, + volume, - volume). And says the name of the song your listnening to and battery life on the screen. So those 8 things a tiny touch screen (with touch controls). But if apple does do that to the nano I will most definetly end my streak with the nano “series” and just get a new ipod touch.

Posted by Jaelen on August 14, 2008 at 11:53 AM (PDT)

41

i love the 3g nano i had a 2g but they are too thin and awkward. the artist rendering just looks silly and too tall

Posted by dimefan90 on August 15, 2008 at 9:49 PM (PDT)

42

the 3g is just awesome. it’s like a jewel. and it’s not fat, it’s voluptuous smile so glad i have my voluptuous model, cause i’m really not that fond of the tall ones. but i guess it’s a matter of personal taste. one thing’s for sure. i can’t wait to see what steve jobs takes out of his pocket this september/october.

Posted by Sweetxs on August 20, 2008 at 9:53 AM (PDT)

43

This was the news I was hoping for. iPods with a logical portrait orientation for long lists and decent screens. Now I might finally move on from my 30GB Brown Zune. Let’s hope the classic goes the same way because I really want Apple to make a great HDD video and music player. I don’t see why people are complaining.

Posted by ChaosSeven on August 20, 2008 at 9:59 AM (PDT)

44

It makes me sick that Kevin Rose is getting credit for this rumor when it was first reported here.

Posted by Urkel on August 24, 2008 at 7:26 PM (PDT)

45

Really, the idea of having a click wheel behind the screen (on the back) with visual (on the LCD) feedback isn’t sounding so silly now guys. It means that the device figures out which handedness you are and adapts, and it means that the designation of what button does what on the click wheel is irrelevant. And also, it means the entire device would be screen, making it a much nicer form factor.
However, imagine working it in a pocket, thinking up was up when it thinks left is up… you get what I mean. Confusing.
If anyone could do that, it’d be Apple.

Posted by Ashley Easter on August 24, 2008 at 9:10 PM (PDT)

46

I like this view of the iPod nano 4G, it seems not to be “touch”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elchinocudeiro/2796361827/

Posted by Judith on August 26, 2008 at 3:26 AM (PDT)

47

It actually looks like the new Sony flash players, at least in terms of form factor.

Posted by Matt on August 27, 2008 at 6:58 PM (PDT)

48

Looks good to me, I quite like the dimensions of my 2nd gen nano…

Posted by Matt on September 1, 2008 at 11:39 PM (PDT)

49

MY prediction for the Apple Lets Rock conference on September 9th is that Apple would go through major product transition with one or possibly two of their current ipod line and possibly add a new line of ipods, think entry level iPhone or entry level iPod touch. AS for the rumored Zune-alike iPOd, I just don’t see that ipod as a product that apple would make, it seems liike a cheap knock-off. Here is a breakdown of what will happen.


iPod Shuffle

The least interesting of the ipod line. 4 gigs of memory, some new colors and maybe a little thinner. But it will keep the screen.


iPod Nano

The iPod Nano is a tough product to predict because part of me wants to see   it complety rehabed into a completly different product such as the zune-alike but the other half wants to just do minor updates. I decided to go with the minor updates. iPod nano increases memory to 16 gig for 150 and possibly 8 for 100.. The nano will get a handful of new color options also.And most likely become thinner

iPod Classic

The iPod Classic will stay classic get more memory and become cheaper and thinner.

iPod Touch

The iPod touch will get a major pricer reduction and memory increase and maybe some new firmware. Im thinking 16 gigs at 199.

Ipod touch 2

I think that apple is going to utilize their touch capability and add a new low-end ipod touch. Probaly a smaller screen and 100 for 4 gigs. It would probaly lack features such as wireless. Apple will introduce it as a new version of the iPod Nano. Such as the iPod Nano with Touch.

Posted by Don Black on September 5, 2008 at 6:20 PM (PDT)

50

“it’s the software, stupid” ! wink

forget the form factor, I predict all new iPods besides the shuffle will run a new OS (from iPhone and touch).

That will expand the apps sales and offer an even more attractive market to developers, cut software engineering costs unify the platforms - one OS, from iPod Nano to XServe - and allow for more in your iPods.

Posted by guessworks on September 7, 2008 at 3:37 AM (PDT)

51

Have u seen the old 2nd gen iPod nano?
How can u relate the new Nano to Zune in stead of that? this is ridiculous. Zune is a 2nd gen Nano copy, period.

Posted by jay on September 14, 2008 at 3:19 PM (PDT)

52

Personally I much prefer the tall,as opposed to the squat, design of the iPods. I was going to buy a set of speakers on Friday, but with the introduction of this I think I will actually buy this instead. Excellent design features as well.

Posted by Henry on September 17, 2008 at 1:31 PM (PDT)

53

thats not the ipod nano 4g!
the ipod nano 4g has a curve and is much different!
take it from someone who has 1!!!!!!

Posted by person on October 16, 2008 at 5:13 PM (PDT)

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