We’ve already received dozens of questions regarding Apple’s all-new lineup of iPods – the “enhanced fifth-generation” iPod (with video), the “second-generation” iPod nano, and the “second-generation” iPod shuffle. This article is intended to answer the top 10 questions we’ve seen – more answers are, of course, coming soon.
10) How have the new iPods changed in size?
(a) At 1.07” by 1.62” by 0.41” and 0.55 ounces, the iPod shuffle has changed the most dramatically from its 3.3” by 0.98” by 0.33”, 0.78 ounce predecessor. It is like an aluminum-clad version of the iPod Radio Remote, and only as much thicker as the added aluminum would suggest. Apple calls it “nearly half the size” of the old iPod shuffle; when placed on its side, it is less than half the height of the old iPod shuffle and only a little wider; most of its body is thinner than the shuffle, but with the clip on the back it’s comparable.
(b) The iPod nano (3.5” by 1.6” by 0.26”, 1.41 oz.) is ever so slightly thinner and lighter than the prior iPod nano (3.5” x 1.6” by 0.27”, 1.5 oz.), and has rounded sides rather than rounded rectangular sides. This thickness difference appears to be due to the use of thinner aluminum body material rather than the thicker plastic and metal combo used in the first iPod nano.
(c) The iPod (with video) is the same size as before; 4.1” by 2.4” by 0.43”/0.55”, and 4.8 or 5.5 ounces. The 30GB version is the same as the prior 30GB version, while the 80GB version is the same size as the prior 60GB version.
9) How are the new iPod nanos colored by capacity, and how do they compare in color to the old iPod minis?
Apple now sells the iPod nano in five colors – silver is the only color available for the 2GB iPod nano, while silver, pink, green, and blue are all 4GB colors, and black is the only color available for the 8GB iPod nano.
Apple changed the iPod mini colors mid-way through that iPod’s lifecycle, killing one of the original five colors (gold) and increasing the saturation of the dyes in the blue, pink, and green versions. The new iPod nanos look like the later, more saturated iPod nanos, with strong tones; the silver version is just like the prior iPod mini’s silver, and the new black model is dark black anodized aluminum. Except for the black model, which has a black Click Wheel, the other nanos have white Click Wheels and colored central Action buttons.
8) How much better are the new iPod screens?
Apple says that the “enhanced” 5G iPod is 60% brighter than the original, but the difference wasn’t that much more noticeable during our limited testing time. Apparently the new screens have been quietly trickled into pre-Showtime 5G iPods, and no one has noticed. Resolution of the new iPod’s screen apparently hasn’t changed from before – it still displays 320×240 resolution, despite the fact that Apple’s iTunes videos now display at 640×480 on computers. In other words, if you didn’t like the prior 5G screen, this one isn’t going to win you over, but we liked everything but the small size of the prior screen, and continue to like this new one.
Apple’s press announcement for the iPod nano suggests that the new nano screen is also brighter than before, without quantification. We’ve seen variability in brightness in older nano screens, so it’s hard to know right now just how much better the new nano’s screen is.
7) Will my old iPod accessories work with these new iPods?
(a) iPod shuffle: No. Only old headphone accessories – and then, not ones attached to shuffle lanyards – will work with the shuffles. The new iPod shuffle has no USB port, and doesn’t have interchangeable caps or lanyards.
(b) iPod nano: Most Dock Connector accessories will continue to work with the nano, but anything depending specifically on the alignment of the Dock Connector and headphone ports – such as XtremeMac’s MicroBlast speakers, or Apple’s iPod nano Lanyard Headphones – will not work. Similarly, anything depending on the exact shape of the nano’s body, or the placement of its headphone port, such as cases, may well have problems. Apple is releasing a new iPod nano Dock for the new iPod nano, and will have a new iPod nano Dock Adapter as well.
Most interestingly, Apple has quietly added voice recorder support to the iPod nano – an iLounge-requested feature. We’re hoping that despite their large physical size, current iPod 5G voice recorders will work properly on the iPod nano as well – they may even work better, since the nano has no hard disk to make loud sounds.
(c) iPod 5G: All prior Dock Connector accessories, including cases, will work with the new iPod 5G.
6) How are those new Apple pack-in earphones?
They’re not as iconic as the past iPod earbuds, and will most certainly “blend in” a lot more with the crowd. But they sound good, feel noticeably lighter and softer in your ears, and preserve the best other features of Apple’s prior pack-ins: good sound, tiny headphone port plug, integrated length manager after the Y-splitter, and two-tone (white and gray) styling. You can now buy them for $29 separately at Apple Stores – this is technically the cheapest Apple has ever made its pack-ins available (they used to sell for $39 with an iPod Remote), but not a “great” deal. Apple is building the same earphones into its revised iPod nano Lanyard Headphones.
5) Do I have to re-download or re-rip all of my music to enable gapless playback?
No. iTunes will determine which tracks are supposed to be gapless, and play those tracks properly together. We’ll have to see how this plays out in practice.
4) Can my old iPod use any of the new features (gapless playback, brightness, search, games) found in the new iPods?
Old 5G iPods will be able to use at least gapless playback – it is an iTunes feature – as well as brightness adjustment and games. Search does not appear to be available on the old 5G or nano; the nano certainly will not get brightness or games. It looks as if the older iPods won’t have the new semi-iconic listing view found in the newer iPods’ menus, either. Any and all of these things could possibly change with a new firmware update, and there are apparently other features that have been quietly added to the old iPods for use by developers. The iPod shuffle won’t get any of these new features.
3) What are the new battery life times for the new iPods?
(a) iPod shuffle now runs for 12 hours on a single charge, which was the same as the prior iPod shuffle.
(b) iPod nano now runs for 24 hours on a single charge, versus 14 hours for the prior model.
(c) iPod 5G (enhanced) 30GB now runs for 14 hours of audio playback, 4 hours of photo playback, and 3.5 hours of on-screen video playback time, while 80GB runs for 20 hours of audio playback, 6 hours of photo playback, and 6.5 hours of video playback time. It’s unclear at this point as to why the new iPod has superior video and photo playtime but identical audio playtime to its predecessors; we’ll be checking this out in our upcoming reviews.
2) What’s the deal with this iTV thing?
It’s basically a wireless receiver for iTunes and photo library content, designed solely to be plugged into a television set and/or AV system. It’s capable of outputting optical (SPDIF), Dolby Surround audio – found now in iTunes Movies – and HDMI or component video, but lacks S-Video and composite video ports, which are found on older TVs. For now, you need to have a computer full of content to spool out to iTV, and then can access the content using an Apple Remote control pointed at iTV, as it’s connected to your TV. It communicates with your computer via 802.11 wireless protocols, and quite possibly can attach to machines or your wired network via integrated Ethernet and USB ports.
Unusual by Apple standards is its timing. Expect it in early 2007 for $299. We really hope Apple has a networked storage solution (a standalone wireless-ready hard drive) so that computers won’t need to be turned on at the same time as iTV is on.
1) What’s the new iPod pricing scheme?
iPod shuffle 1GB: $79 ($79 per GB)
iPod nano 2GB: $149 ($74.50 per GB)
iPod nano 4GB: $199 ($49.75 per GB)
iPod nano 8GB: $249 ($31.13 per GB)
iPod 5G 30GB: $249 ($8.30 per GB)
iPod 5G 80GB: $349 ($4.36 per GB)
By storage capacity standards, the 80GB iPod is the best value in iPod history – under $4.50 per Gigabyte, and the cheapest top-of-line iPod Apple has ever introduced. Even the 1GB shuffle is only slightly more expensive than the now discontinued $69 512MB iPod shuffle.