iPod Nano Mono-Chromatic Review
By Alessandra Carneiro on November 4, 2008


Introduction

Forget about the last iPod Nano: this newborn fourth-generation is the one that Apple fans have been waiting for since the launch of the sleek and skinny second-generation model, which had colorful display, capacity for photos and a great design, but yet played no videos. The third-generation, launched on September 2007, had finally brought videos to the Nano, but had disappointed on account of its wider body design. Now, Apple has brought together the evolution of last year’s third-generation with an improvement on that slender and ‘old-style’ design.


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Figure 1: Third generation iPod Nano.

The new iPod Nano, best-known as ‘Nano-Chromatic’, is slimmer than ever (just 0.24 inch / 6.2 mm of depth) and has a 2-inch widescreen liquid crystal display with blue-white LED backlight. It comes in nine colors (silver, black, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and pink) and in 8GB or 16GB flash drive models.

To enjoy a landscape view, users turn the iPod on its side to better watch videos, photos and to flip through the album covers. The LCD display also features an adjustable contrast and backlight settings to make it easier to read in low light.

The good news is that the headphone jack is now compatible with the microphone. But to start recording conversations, you’ll need an Apple-approved headset, which is already available. A new Earphones with Remote and Mic from Apple costs USD 29. An advanced model, an In-Ear headphones, costs USD 79. Both are available at any Apple Store.

Video playback has migrated from last year’s Nano, featuring a screenplay resolution of 204 ppi and a widescreen view (when the iPod is turned to its side). 

It is important to remember that Apple offers some features to people requiring special needs, like spoken menus (to hear names of menus, song titles, and artists without viewing the screen) and an alternative large font for those who have tired eyesight.

Using the iPod Nano-Chromatic

Just as last year’s Nano, this fourth-generation also plays video. Unfortunately, files need to be converted to MP4 prior to being transferred to the iPod. We used DVDVideoSoft Free Studio. It’s easy to operate and has low, medium and high-quality video settings.

It has the same battery capacity of the second-generation (24 hours while playing songs). Although a whole day to play songs is a nice lifetime, we cannot say the same about videos. Apple says that it can last up to 4 hours when the battery is fully charged. According to our tests, it lasted about an hour, which was a good surprise. Therefore you’ll probably end up with a powerless iPod when you are traveling or waiting at an airport for your flight and, suddenly, the battery dies on you in the middle of a movie or a sitcom.


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Figure 2: Upside view.

The screen is large, considering the size of a Nano, but maybe you’ll find it pretty small to watch a whole movie – not to mention the battery waste. But I think it is useful to watch a couple of sitcoms or TV shows while on-the-go.  Image quality is considerably good and audio quality will not disappoint you.

With capacity for playing videos and an adaptable screen design, which can be turned on its side to a wider view of videos or photos, the music appears to take a backseat. That’s not true.


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Figure 3: Downside view.

Apple has improved the music search, making it easier to find songs browsing the album art in Cover Flow or pressing and holding the Center button to see album or artist list. When you find the right song, press the Center button to add it to your on-the-go playlist.

Apple also has shaken the shuffle feature, literally. To surprise themselves with the next song, users just need to give iPod a shake to change to a different song of your music library. Once you do that, iPod changes to shuffle songs, even if you were listening to a specific album before shaking it. A good thing is that we need to give a real shake to change songs. I went jogging listening to a playlist and I was not surprised with an uncalled for change of song.


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Figure 4: Flip feature.

But the most talked about new feature is the so-called Genius function, which makes playlists of songs that, in thesis, go great together. In the next page, you’ll find a topic just about Genius.

Apple also has improved the games feature, with new titles that can be found on the iTunes Store. iPod Nano comes with Maze, “which lets you work your way through vast mazes by tilting and moving,” as explain by the manufacturer. 

All the other features from the third generation have migrated to this new model, including podcast playback, calendar, alarms, stopwatch, contacts, notes, and clocks.

About Genius

Although it’s not revolutionary, Genius seems to be an entertaining new feature with the capacity of creating a 25-song playlist based on the song that’s been playing… until you start to use it.

First of all, it’s necessary to have an active account at the iTunes Store to start using the Genius function. But to activate it, you have to agree to Apple knowing and examining the content of your iTunes collection. It sounds pretty intrusive to me, but I’ve accepted the agreement: since I had hoped a Pandora-like function in my iPod. But it turns to be quite disappointing to me.

Sometimes Genius works perfectly well. You can save a playlist that you like in the Playlist menu, with the name of the track that you choose to begin your list. Other times, it’s linked songs that the most ‘creative’ DJ in the world wouldn’t dare to put together. At least, iPod gives you the Refresh option that creates a new playlist based on the same song.  But most of the time, a message saying that 'genius is unavailable for this song' has come to bug me. I’ve tried to select again all my songs and then updated Genius. It worked better, but hadn’t solved the problem so far.

Maybe I have too many songs that haven’t been included in the Genius database and, if that’s true, maybe Genius will work better in the future. According to Steve Jobs, database will be updated once a week as more and more libraries are scanned and processed. Till then, I’ll miss Pandora.

Comparing Nano Generations

The first iPod Nano was released in September 2005 in version with 2 GB or 4 GB to replace the iPod Mini. Although the models were just available in black and white colors, it had a color screen to view pictures. It weighted 1.5 oz (42.5 g), measured 3.5” x 1.6” x 0.27” (8.9 x 4 x 0.7 cm) and had a poor battery life: with just 14 hours of music playback when fully charged.

This “problem” was solved later, with the second generation, launched in September 2006. The battery life, from then till now, has increased to up to 24 hours of music playback. Even with video playback, battery life hasn’t changed in the next two generations. Nowadays, we can play up to 4 hours of video playback and we can’t wait for a more durable battery. Second generation was available in 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB in six different colors. 


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Figure 5:  the old Nano (left) and the new Nano.

Third generation was released in September 2007 with a “short and fat” design, measuring 2.75” x  2.06” x 0.26” (7 x 5.2 x 0.7 cm). It was also the heaviest Nano, with 1.74 oz (49 g) of weight. The screen became larger and with better resolution, to play videos for the first time. It was available in six colors and in 4 GB or 8 GB models.


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Figure 6: Both models side by side.

Now, in the fourth generation, Apple has brought back the “tall and slim” design, with some improvements: it is a little bit taller and considerably thinner than the second generation model, measuring 3.6” x 1.5” x 0.24” (9.1 x 3.8 x 0.6 cm) and with 1.3 oz (36.8 g) of weight. It feels a bit flimsy in the palm of your hand. The screen has the same size of the one of the third generation (320 x 240 / 204 ppi).

Specifications

The iPod Nano Fourth Generation main features are:

Conclusions

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/iPod-Nano-Mono-Chromatic-Review/644


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