iPod Nano Third Gen Review
By Sandy Berger on July 15, 2008
Great design and ease of use have made Apple’s iPod is the most popular digital music player in the world. The nano is the smallest iPod with a screen. With the release of this 3rd generation, newly designed iPod nano, Apple has created a wonderful addition to its iPod lineup.
As with most other Apple products, the nano shows Apple to be a master of packaging and design. As shown in Figures 1 and 2, this nano is beautifully packaged in a clear, simplistic plastic case that showcases the nano without any clutter. The packaging is reminiscent of a jewelry box as it showcases the nano as a prized possession.
Upon opening the box, as shown in Figure 3, you find a pair of Apple’s standard earbuds, a USB cable that is used to hook the nano up to the computer for charging and synching, and a dock adapter that is used to place the nano in docks made for a larger iPods.
The first thing that you will notice about the newest iPod nano, as shown in Figure 4, is that unlike previous nanos and many other MP3 players, it is short and squat instead of narrow and tall. This new form factor gives the nano a better fit in the hand, as shown in Figure 4, as well as in the pocket.
The nano has an anodized aluminum top and, as shown in Figure 5, the polished stainless steel back is engraved with the iPod logo and the capacity.
This nano comes in 4GB and 8GB capacities. The 4GB nano that we reviewed is available only in silver. The 8GB models come in pink, green, black, blue, and silver. There is also a red 8GB version available only at Apple stores and the Apple website. The 8GB version will hold about 8 hours of video, 2,000 audio tracks, or approximately 7.000 photos.
As with other iPods, the scroll wheel on the front is used to start and stop the iPod, choose songs, and control the volume. As shown in Figure 6, the nano’s USB cable is used to hook the nano up to the computer.
The iTunes software which is available for free from the Apple website can be used by both Mac and PC computers. This software makes it easy to transfer music to your iPod. You can also purchase music directly from Apple through the iTunes Store which is part of the iTunes software.
The audio quality of the nano is excellent. Although, like all other iPods, it comes with the standard Apple earbuds. As shown in Figure 7, these earbuds have round hard ends that are supposed to fit into the ear. Since the ear canals of most humans are not perfectly round, most people find these earbuds ill-fitting and uncomfortable. Apple makes softer, more comfortable ear buds, a picture of these is shown in Figure 8. In our opinion, Apple should include something like this in their iPod packages. But since they currently don’t do that, be sure to leave enough room in your budget to purchase a decent pair of earbuds or headphones.
The battery life of this nano is excellent. Our tests got close to the Apple posted times of 24 hours for audio and 5 hours for video playback. Unfortunately, like all other iPods, the lithium ion battery is built-into the device and is not user-replaceable.
Like other iPods, this new nano fully supports podcasts and audio books. It also includes the ability to store and display pictures. It also has extras such as a clock, calendar, alarm, stopwatch, and is also able to hold contacts and notes. You can even hook it up to a television to show pictures and video.
As shown in Figure 9, all ports and controls are on the bottom. This makes access more convenient than in some other iPods. In this 3rd generation nano, Apple goes back to having the headphone and the docking port in close proximity on the bottom of the device. With that change, several good add-ons like Apple’s lanyard headphones, which worked with the 1st generation iPod nano but did not work with the 2nd generation nano, will now work again.
This nanos screen has been enhanced. The brightness of this nano has been improved by more than 60% over previous nanos. At a resolution of 320x240 pixels and a 2 inch diagonal liquid crystal display with LED backlight, the screen is wonderfully clear and bright. Even in bright sunlight, the screen, although washed out, is viewable. The screen improvements showcase the biggest new feature – the ability to play videos. Videos run smoothly on the nano and display quite well on the small screen. Colors appear vibrant and none of the videos we tried had any flickering. One caveat is that if the format of the video creates a letterbox effect with a black border on the top and the bottom, the video itself becomes quite small. Running it full screen, makes it larger, but cuts off part of the picture.
This new nano also has a feature that is called Cover Flow, which is a popular method for browsing a music library by scrolling through the album covers. The new split-screen menu interface, (shown in Figure 11) is no more useful than the old full-screen menu, but it is visually appealing. There is also a new Search feature, shown in Figure 12. This screen lets you use the scroll wheel to select the letter corresponding to what you want to find. This is very useful for those who have large collections of music.
The new nano also comes with several games including Vortex, iQuiz, and Klondike solitaire. Other games can be purchased at the iTunes store. Although we felt that using the scroll wheel for gaming was a bit cumbersome, we have been told that you can get used to it.
Another added plus for this third generation nano is that turning it off by pressing and holding the Play button on the scroll wheel actually works quite well. In previous nanos, this feature worked sporadically, at best. Also, this nano doesn’t seem to be quite as prone to freezes (locked screens) as previous versions. We did encounter some instances where the center button did not respond properly, but this was only an intermittent problem.
Ipod nano main specifications are:
We feel that this 3rd generation nano is easily the best inexpensive nano to date. The advancements since we looked at the 1st generation iPod in 2005 have been dramatic. The improved screen, enhanced interface, better games, video support and the new sleek and small form factor all add to the usability and enjoyment of the device.