As always, we’ve assembled a list of some of the surprising new iPod details we gathered at Apple’s Special Event, and published them separately here for your immediate consumption.
10: Sizes: iPod touch is physically smaller than the iPhone. Not only is it thinner—8mm versus the iPhone’s 11.6mm—it’s also a little shorter, measuring 4.3” tall rather than 4.5” tall. That’s not as short as the 4.1” iPod—now aka iPod classic—so you can’t stuff an iPod touch into all of the big screen video display docks that are out there now. The new iPod nano has the most unusual form factor of the bunch, measuring 2.75” tall by 2.06” wide by .26” thick. That’s the same thickness as the last nano, but 3/4” shorter, and .46” wider.
9: Video: Video output is now universal across all iPods except the shuffle. Any third-generation nano, iPod classic, or iPod touch can be connected to your TV set using Apple’s new $49 component or composite AV cables, which come with a USB Power Adapter to keep the iPod charged rather than burning aggressively through its battery. An Apple representative told us that the component video cables now enable each iPod to display videos at the full 640×480 resolution of the original iTunes Store or user-encoded files, rather than being limited to 320×240 or thereabouts. Video output is still missing from the iPhone.
8: Audio: We tested each of the new iPods briefly with a pair of Ultimate Ears UE-11 Pro earphones. The base noise level was lowest in the iPod classic, and slightly higher in the nano and iPod touch. It was disappointing to see that Apple has yet again dropped the ball on offering true graphic equalization for any of these iPods, and now just puts images of the old EQ presets off to the sides of the iPod classic and nano interfaces.
7: Synchronization: Thankfully, iTunes synchronization is “iPod-style,” not iPhone/Apple TV style, so you can still drag and drop files directly from the iTunes window onto any of the iPods. We were concerned that Apple was going to try and force playlist-style synchronization onto iPod users, but this hasn’t happened.
6: Easier Shuffling: The new iPod classic and nano Now Playing screen now includes, after several button presses, the ability to turn on shuffle songs or albums modes without returning to the iPod’s main menu.
5: Cover Flow: Cover Flow on the new iPods is okay. It is a bit more sluggish than on the iPhone and iPod touch, and you need to navigate through it with the Click Wheel, then click the button to select an album, flip it around, and select a song. Then you’ll need to exit the album and roll around again. Touch controls on iPhone and iPod touch make this better.
4: Greater Music Menu Customization: You can now customize both the main and music menus of the iPod classic and iPod nano—a feature designed to help you cut down on scrolling, especially given the ever-expanding audio options Apple has added to the iPods.
3: Safari on iPod touch: It feels just like it does on the iPhone, but as we were playing around, we saw a debug feature for Safari on the iPod touch, which tests pages to see whether they generate errors. It’s an option hidden in the settings menu; we doubt it’ll be there in the final version of the device.
2: Upgrades, not Downgrades: Apple reps told us that the new iPods lose nothing from their predecessor models; they only gain. So something that worked on the last model should still work on the new one, only with cosmetic improvements. This isn’t always the case with the iPod touch relative to the iPhone. Applications work almost identically to one another—YouTube on the touch loses the ability to e-mail clips to your friends, as does the photos feature—but otherwise they’re the same programs.
1: Games: The iPod nano now comes with three Apple games, including Vortex and Klondike (updated solitaire with superior graphics). All past iPod games need to be revised to work on the iPod nano (and possibly the iPod classic?); three additional games, including Pac-Man, will be available for purchase immediately.