Review: Apple iPod nano (Sixth-Generation)
Pros: A smaller touchscreen revision of Apple’s mid-priced flash RAM media player, available in seven colors. Twin user interfaces include one optimized for the 1.54” display, and another that mimics the iOS operating system of the iPhone and iPod touch. Swipe and tap gestures are used for most of the device’s controls, while using album art and wallpapers to nicely fill the screen with color. Integrated FM radio, pedometer, and accelerometer components carry over from the prior-generation iPod nano, along with sufficient 8GB and 16GB storage capacities. Includes an integrated clip that renders it instantly wearable. Superior audio battery life and volume to predecessors; remains compatible with Dock Connector accessories, including the Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Version 1.2 software update reduces need for the Nike + iPod kit by utilizing pedometer hardware for simple run tracking. Dramatically enhanced Clock features enable the nano to be used as a watch, albeit with certain practical limitations.
Cons: Feels like a first-generation version of a new product line rather than a sequel to the iPod nano. Video, gaming, camera, speaker, and microphone features are amongst a laundry list of capabilities dropped from the new model, precluding it from being used as a complete or even substantial replacement for its three most recent predecessors, primarily by users with video needs. New glossy body colors are weaker than ones introduced in last two years. Multi-Touch screen has only one multi-touch gesture, lacking for others that might have made the device more interesting. Use of rear clip, as well as connection and disconnection of some accessories, can be a modest challenge while the device is being used.
It goes without saying that the sixth-generation iPod nano’s size is such a radical departure from prior models that new cases and other protective accessories will be required for those who want to wrap it in something. However, cases for past iPod nanos have proved less and less popular over the years—and challenging for developers to replace every single year—so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see relatively few options over the course of this model’s life time. Wristbands appear to already be in the offing, though, and we’ve already seen photos of the first cases from major and minor developers, alike.
Electronic accessories that were compatible with the fifth-generation iPod nano are generally compatible with the sixth-generation model, subject to only a couple of major limitations: dock design and video functionality. iPod speakers with open docks that ignored Apple’s Universal Dock standard are most likely to be fully compatible with the new nano, without inhibiting access to its front controls; speakers with recessed Universal Docks may in some cases make touching the bottom of the screen a small challenge. Audio-out and their remote controls will both continue to work just fine, as will the wired three-button remotes and microphones that worked with prior-generation iPod nanos.
Accessories with video-out functionality will find that the new nano offers little worth displaying on a TV screen, as discussed earlier in this review. The new model will work fine in most cars with Dock Connector- and line-in based audio systems, as well as with past headphones, with the aforementioned headphone port volume changes representing the single biggest change we found during testing.