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.
When Apple introduced downloadable iPod Games as a new section of the iTunes Store last year, one comment appeared over and over again from readers: “why can’t we play these on the iPod nano?” The answer was simple: the nano lacked the graphics chip and screen that would let it play the same games as the 5G iPod. This year, Apple’s changed that, markedly improving the nano’s video hardware to enable it to play the same games iPod classic can play.
On a positive note, this is a major upgrade for the iPod nano, which used to play only four drab built-in titles. Apple has thrown them away, replacing three of them with new and improved alternatives. Music Quiz and Solitaire have been replaced by the 5G iPod game iQuiz and a refreshed solitaire game called Klondike, which are much-improved visually over the old iPod’s built-in games.
The old-fashioned Breakout clone Brick has been replaced by the 5G iPod game Vortex, which wraps bricks around the inside of a tube for your paddle to break with a ball or upgraded weapons. Apple appears to have mostly preserved Vortex from the 5G iPod original, but it’s lost some of its transparency effects, which is a bit of a bummer. Still, these three games are better than the four that used to be on iPods; no one will miss the Missile Command-like Parachute.
Unfortunately, the 5G iPod’s downloadable games won’t work on the iPod nano, which is a major bummer for those who spent $5 per title to build up the prior iPod’s libraries. All of the games will have to be updated for use on the iPod nano and classic, a process that is starting slowly with only three downloadable titles, Tetris, Ms. Pac-Man, and Sudoku. Apple hasn’t yet said whether past iPod 5G customers will have to pay again to play the same titles on their new iPods. We certainly hope not.