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.
All of the controversy surrounding the third-generation iPod nano revolved around its shape and proportions: the second-generation nano was tall and thin, and everyone assumed that the new model would be only a little shorter, and significantly fatter. It’s not. In reality, each new nano measures 2.75” tall by 2.06” wide by .26” thick. That’s the same thickness as the last version, but 3/4” shorter, and .46” wider. Apple’s achieved this by making the Click Wheel even smaller than before, and almost entirely removing the spaces between the screen, the wheel, and the nano’s bottom. Early photos made these changes look awful, but in person, at this tiny size, they make sense.
Part of the appeal is, as in last year’s nanos, in the fact that you can choose from five different colors—assuming you’re willing to pay for the 8GB model. The silver nano is the only 4GB model available, and is joined at the 8GB level by black, blue, green, and red nanos—pink has disappeared for the first time in colored iPod history. Silver aside, none of the colors is the same shade as last year’s version: the red nano is darker, while the black, blue, and green nanos are all lighter than before. Black is actually closer to dark gray, and slightly iridescent. You’ll need to decide whether you like any of the new colors; we liked the black and red ones the best.
If anything, the new controversy will rage over Apple’s decision to bring back the first-generation nano’s mirror-polished steel back casing, which like that model—and unlike the fully anodized aluminum back of the second-generation iPod nano—easily attracts scratches and fingerprints. Consider a case or protective film mandatory if you want to keep the nano scratch-free.
As with the iPod classic, the combination of two types of metal doesn’t do much for us visually in silver, but the colored nanos look better. They actually carry their coloration over to the newly re-designed bottom, which now features a circular Hold switch, Dock Connector port, and headphone port, enabling case makers to cover the new nano’s entire top without fear. In addition to looking better thanks to the completely centered Dock Connector, the bottom’s new Hold switch is at least as easy to flip as last year’s, and the headphone port isn’t recessed or otherwise difficult to use. Overall, Apple has made the new nano’s ports and controls more convenient than before without compromising their functionality.
Last year, Apple alternated between two types of packaging: classy black cardboard boxes for its full-sized iPods, and clear hard plastic display containers for its iPod nanos and shuffles. This year, the cardboard boxes have gotten better, and the hard plastic containers have just become smaller: as before, the third-generation nano is suspended inside the case’s front, while a larger compartment behind it holds three accessories and a small packet of papers.
Like last year’s model, the new iPod nano ships with a pair of standard Apple iPod Earphones, a USB-to-iPod Dock Connector cable, and a Universal Dock Adapter (number 13) that lets you mount the nano in any Universal Dock-equipped accessory. The cable is used to charge the nano’s integrated battery and/or add music, videos, and games to it from any USB 2.0 port-equipped computer.
Four of the iPod nanos—the silver, blue, green, and black versions—come with a basic set of Apple paperwork, consisting of a threadbare set of instructions, some warnings, and two Apple stickers. The red nano, which is called the iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition, also includes a red card that explains that part of the device’s purchase price will go towards charity to fight AIDS in Africa.
Updated: On January 22, 2008, Apple released a pink version of the iPod nano, which is identical in packaging and pack-ins to the prior silver, blue, green, and black models, and differs only in the color of its shell. Photos of the new model can be seen above.