Review: Apple iPod nano (with video, 4GB/8GB)
Pros: A massive upgrade to Apple’s smallest-screened media player, adding very good video- and game-playing capabilities to the previously music- and photo-only, popular iPod nano. Achieves better than promised battery performance, as well as nearly equivalent video and audio performance to the iPod classic, making better use of its smaller components. Though shape is different, and screen is bigger and more detailed, volume is not dramatically increased over prior nanos. Available in
six colors and two storage capacities at very reasonable prices.
Cons: Screen and flash memory sizes aren’t ideal for video. Prior iPod Games, and iPod video accessories, are generally not compatible with this model. Mirror-finished rear casing returns, ready to scratch and smudge.
Three weeks before publication of this review, the world was absolutely convinced that Apple’s third-generation iPod nano ($149/4GB, $199/8GB) would be a massive failure. Leaked shots of the device revealed that it would give up its flattened tube-like shape for a nearly square enclosure with bizarre screen and Click Wheel proportions, and its rounded edges looked more like a cheap Chinese calculator design than something the world would expect from Apple’s vaunted industrial design team. Similarly, early estimates of the nano’s size suggested that it would be nearly equivalent to a Hobbit-like 5G iPod, only thinner.
Everyone was wrong. And, as was the case with the iPod mini and the past two iPod nanos, Apple got it right. With a 2-inch, 320x240-pixel display and twice as much storage as last year’s $149 and $199 iPod nanos, the third-generation model might not photograph well, but it is shockingly excellent when you see it in person—precisely the right combination of features for Apple’s asking prices. Even we’re surprised that it’s the first iPod since 2005 to earn our flat A rating.
What’s the new nano’s appeal? It does virtually everything Apple’s new iPod classic does—and thanks to the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, a little more—in a much smaller package, with your choice of five body colors. For the first time in nano history, it plays both videos and games, using the same files that work on the iPod classic. And it remains a strong audio player, if not quite the equivalent on quality of the larger, more expensive iPod classic. Though you sacrifice storage space and a bit of battery life, what you get is a truly awesome “take it anywhere, do anything” iPod, at an entry price that can’t be beat. Whether you’re looking for a gift, a second iPod, or just something to tide you over while you wait for the right new big-screened iPod to arrive, the new nano is likely to be your best possible purchase today.
Also: Watch our video of the new iPod nano interface here, and get answers to frequently asked questions here. Additionally, on January 22, 2008, Apple released a sixth iPod nano color—pink—as a Valentine’s Day and Spring 2008 option. On February 8, 2008, we added photos of the new model to page 2 of this review.