At its special event in San Francisco today, Apple introduced the iPod nano, a completely new iPod that’s thinner than a standard #2 pencil and weighs only 1.5 ounces. The iPod mini replacement is available in 2GB ($199) and 4GB ($249) capacities in either white or black designs. The ultra-compact device features a high-resolution color screen, Click Wheel, and offers up to 14 hours of battery life.
“iPod nano is the biggest revolution since the original iPod,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “iPod nano is a full-featured iPod in an impossibly small size, and it’s going to change the rules for the entire portable music market.”
The iPod nano has a standard 30-pin Dock Connector (allowing it to work with many current accessories), is compaible with both Mac and Windows via USB 2.0, and offers the ability to display photos and album art. Because it uses flash memory instead of a tiny hard drive for music storage, it provides completely skip-free playback. The updated iPod software also adds a new stopwatch, world clock and screen lock applications.
The iPod nano is available worldwide immediately through the online Apple Store. Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers will begin receiving shipments on or before this weekend..
iPod nano Accessories
Alongside the new iPod nano, Apple announced several new accessories for the device, which the company calls the “most fashionable and wearable iPod ever.” The new gear includes lanyard headphones ($39), which integrate the headphone cables into the lanyard; armbands in five colors, including gray, pink, blue, red and green ($29 each); a set of silicone “Tubes” in five colors, including pink, purple, blue, green and clear ($29); and dock ($29).
iLounge editors Jeremy Horwitz and Dennis Lloyd have had the opportunity to test the iPod nano and check out all of its upcoming accessories. On the accessories front, most interesting is the fact that the new iPod nano Dock is the first such Apple device to include a “variable line-out” port, which attenuates the standard line-out signal downwards from the iPod’s Click Wheel. The company’s silicone “nano Tubes” provide complete protection for the entire iPod nano save its bottom ports, including thin coverage for the Click Wheel and top Hold switch. The lanyard headphones plug simultaneously into the iPod’s bottom headphone port and Dock Connector, using the Connector solely as a securing mechanism and the headphone port as a means to direct headphone audio. Armbands in all of the various colors are similar in perforated arm design to Incase’s recently reviewed iPod and iPod mini neoprene armbands, except open on their tops.
We’ve also learned that the iPod nano will be the company’s first to include the “Universal Dock Adapter,” a plastic plate which guarantees iPod nano docking compatibility with any accessory designed to include it. Nearly 20 companies are already planning products around the UDA design, which is similar to the plastic plates included with speaker accessories from Altec Lansing, Bose, iHome and JBL, and will eliminate the need for participating companies to design iPod-specific plates in the future. The UDA will come in the nano box alongside a USB-to-Dock Connector cable, headphones, the nano hardware, and iTunes 5 software.
We tested the iPod nano briefly with both stock and high-end Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pro earphones, and found the audio quality of the newest iPod to be similar to existing iPods. Bass performance does not appear to have been markedly improved in the nano, and other audio and feature functionality often requested by iLounge readers (enhanced equalizers, FM tuner, etcetera) has not been included. However, the nano’s new stopwatch and lap timer works well, and features a nice metallic interface similar to the one in Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. The new security screen lock and world clock work well and are also easy to set.
The iPod nano will be able to display photos and transfer them from iTunes. According to Apple representatives, it will not be compatible with Apple’s or other photo connectors for straight-to-nano digital picture transfers, and will not be compatible with voice recorder devices, either. Like the iPod mini, nano is solely intended to be a device for media playback and storage, not creation.
Screen quality on the iPod nano is precisely what you’d expect from Apple: highly visible, with bright white backlighting and good resolution comparable to that used on the full-sized color iPod. Despite its small size, it displays text and photographs legibly, and with ease. It duplicates in all key ways the interface of the color iPod, and plays back all the same genres of audio – audiobooks, podcasts, music – without any problems.
Of the new products introduced today, iPod nano is unquestionably the superior, smarter offering. It takes all of the most popular features from the full-sized color iPod and makes them work in a smaller, cheaper enclosure. It’s especially stunning in that it replicates the look and feel of a full-sized iPod in a matching enclosure, rather than shrinking the iPod mini’s anodized aluminum body, as most expected it to do. The black version is especially slick, with its dark gray Click Wheel, but the white version offers familiar beauty in a small size. We cannot wait to provide our full review.