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.
Unquestionably, all of the changes Apple made to the third-generation nano’s enclosure were a result of one thing: its screen. And an impressive little screen it is. Almost as bright as the iPod classic’s 2.5” display, it packs just as many pixels—320 wide, 240 high—into a much smaller 2” space, roughly the same size as the screens used on first-, second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPods, and bigger than the ones found on iPod minis and past iPod nanos.
Larger screens generally require more power, but as with the iPod classic, Apple’s somehow managed to keep that under control in the new iPod nano: the company promises 24 hours of audio playtime and 5 hours of continuous video before the battery runs out. Like the iPod classic, we found Apple’s video estimate to be conservative: the new iPod nano played our two iTunes Store test videos back repeatedly for 5 hours and 47 minutes before expiring—better than promised, and an hour shy of the 80GB iPod classic. For those keeping track, that’s better than last year’s 30GB video iPod, and comparable to the 80GB model. Similarly, the new iPod nano blew past Apple’s promised 24-hour audio run time in our standard test using 50% volume, no equalizers, and minimal screen interaction, playing music and non-music content continuously for 30 hours and 21 minutes before expiring. Your real-world use of the nano will vary, but being able to achieve that sort of run time under any conditions is extremely impressive.
The two critical things you should understand about the iPod nano’s new screen are the new functions it enables—described in separate sections of this review, below—and how much better suited it is to a device like the nano than the 2.5” display is to a device like the iPod classic. Though it would initially seem logical to assume that a larger display coupled with a larger hard disk would make the iPod classic a better device than the iPod nano, that’s not necessarily the case.
To be frank, neither the nano nor the iPod classic has a phenomenal screen for portable video viewing: either one is a big step down from the 3.5” widescreen used on the iPhone and iPod touch, and you’ll need to hold them closer than you might prefer if you want to make out the fine details. But because its pixel density is higher, the iPod nano’s screen has clarity that looks more like the iPhone’s than the iPod classic’s; the two devices literally share the same interface in all regards, and it just looks better on, and more suited to, the nano’s display.