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.
Because the third-generation iPod nano uses a completely different physical form factor than prior iPods, nanos, minis, and shuffles, it will require entirely new cases and iPod-specific accessories: it won’t fit in past iPod nano armbands, attach to last year’s iPod nano Lanyard Headphones, or fit in prior iPod nano Universal Dock Adapters. Not surprisingly, Apple has already announced (but not yet released) a new gray iPod nano Armband for the third-generation nano, and includes one new Universal Dock Adapter with each nano. Cases, especially poor ones from companies rushing to cash in on the new device, won’t be too far behind.
As with the iPod classic, electronic accessories are a mixed bag. Most prior audio and charging accessories, including speaker docks, will generally work as well with this iPod nano as they did with the last one. They will typically not, for reasons explained below, output video from the nano to a connected TV set. Unlike the iPhone, which still doesn’t work with our favorite car accessories, iPod nano works just fine for audio with the accessories we previously installed—it doesn’t put up any nag screens, fail to charge, or fail to play back music.
Just like the iPod classic, it also works properly with most past voice recording accessories, adding both a new recording screen with a microphone icon and a new playback screen that’s nicer than before. The only major exception is XtremeMac’s MicroMemo for iPod nano, which no longer fits the nano’s reconfigured headphone port and Dock Connector at the bottom; thankfully, the superior standard version of MicroMemo works just fine.
FM transmitter and other accessories will generally work properly so long as they don’t hijack the iPod’s screen for tuning or other functionality. Like the iPhone, the new nano stops such devices from working properly, here by delaying screen updates from the accessory so much that you really can’t use its controls.
The new iPod nano works perfectly with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit. As noted more fully in this article, Apple has updated the nano’s interface somewhat for the Sport Kit, with new red screens similar to those on the Nikeplus.com web site, and added Mandarin Chinese language support for the accessory as well.
As briefly alluded to earlier, one major omission from the nano’s accessory functionality is any ability to output video to the vast majority of video dock or display devices that were previously designed to work with the fifth-generation iPod. Like the iPod classic, the iPod nano’s TV Out feature is locked in an “off” position unless you connect it to a device with an Apple-authorized authentication chip inside. Since video-ready docks save Apple’s Universal Dock contain such a chip, and no speakers except Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi and Bowers and Wilkins’ Zeppelin have one, either, you shouldn’t expect that any old accessory that promises iPod video output to a TV or other display will work with the nano. Though this is a disappointment, it’s not as deeply felt in an overall upgrade to the prior, video-less nano as it is in the iPod classic’s downgrade from the video-ready 5G iPod.