Can 27 million people be wrong? This is the approximate number of iPods sold by Apple since October 2001, and, until two weeks ago, my answer was yes. I couldn’t understand all the fuss for an audio player exactly “like any other”. I had the opportunity to play with an iPod mini before, which I found quite amusing, but nothing more than that.
Despite all that I ended up buying an iPod nano for myself and things immediately started to change. When I opened the box, the first impact was caused by its minuscule size: whoever thinks the mini (3.6x2x0.5 inches; 3.6 ounces) is small enough will be surprised by the sleek nano (3.5×1.6×0.27 inches; 1.5 ounce). It looks like those tiny cellphones shown in movies. By the way, the iPod nano officially took mini’s place in Apple’s product lineup.
As soon as I had installed the iTunes software and charged the battery, I started transfering some songs. At this point, it should be noted that the nano, for now, is only available in 2 GB and 4 GB capacities. It is only a fraction of the storage offered by the standard iPod (4.1×2.4×0.43/0.55 inches; 4.8/5.5 ounces), which has just reached 60 GB, but still enough to carry up to 1,000 songs in one’s pocket (in the 4 GB model).
The difference in capacity is due to the fact that the nano uses flash memory, while the standard iPod has a hard drive. Flash brings some pros – like being more resistant to impact – and at least one big con – price – which Apple minimized striking a friendly contract with Samsung. The iPod nano’s suggested retail prices are USD 199 (2 GB) and USD 249 (4 GB) in the US.
[nextpage title=”Using the nano”]
The nano’s navigation menu is very similar to that on the mini. Contents can be organized by playlists, artists, albums, songs, genres, composers, podcasts and audiobooks. Other features include shuffle, repeat and a 22-option equalizer. Synchronization is easily done through the USB port with a single click on iTunes. The player also stores images, which can be displayed in slideshows with background music. Users are allowed to adjust time per slide and transition effects.
Two small novelties among the extras are the presence of multiple clocks (with dark background at night) and a new stopwatch, potentially useful to those who intend to exercise carrying the iPod. Other features include calendar, contacts, notes and games. The nano also brings a new security tool called Screen Lock – activated by a four-digit password – in which it is possible only to play and pause songs. In case the user forgets the password, it is necessary to reconnect the player to the PC.
All navigation is done with the Click Wheel. As anyone who has ever played with an iPod knows, the interface is simple to use and intuitive. Basically, the wheel is used to scroll through the options, which are then selected with the button in the middle. The upper Menu button will always take the user back to the previous menu. It should be noted that the iPod has no “off” button: it turns off automatically or through the Sleep option. Users can also set the backlight to turn off in preset lapses or simply stay always on or off.
Finally, it should be repeated that the nano is based on flash memory, which makes it a bit different from HD-based models. Acess times are reduced and mechanical failures are less likely, another characteristic that appeals to athletes. The main disadvantage, in theory, would be pricing. Apple, however, buys flash chips with a reported 40% discount from Samsung and, thus, is capable of offering high capacities at reasonable price levels. Even so, a 30 GB HD-iPod, now also supporting video, costs USD 299, not much more than the 4 GB nano (USD 249).
- Capacity: 2 GB or 4 GB
- Battery life: 14 hours of music playback or 4 hours of slideshows with music
- Charge time: 3 hours (80% fast charge in 1.5 hour)
- Display: 1.5-inch color LCD with LED backlight
- Ports: dock connector and stereo minijack
- Audio support: AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF
- Photo support: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD (Mac) e PNG
- Size: 3.5×1.6×0.27 inches
- Weight: 1.5 ounce
- Accessories: earbud headphones, USB cable, dock adapter
- Software: iTunes for Mac and Windows
- More information: http://www.apple.com/ipodnano
- Average price in the USA*: USD 199 (2 GB) and USD 249 (4 GB)
* Researched on http://www.pricewatch.com/ on the day we published this article.
The iPod nano is as trendy as it gets for an audio player, but this does not mean it has no flaws. For instance, the device has lost the small connector located near the headphone jack on previous iPod series, meaning that various accessories are now incompatible. (It is also the case with the latest iPods supporting video.)
Some users also have claimed that the nano is more susceptible to scratching. A group of lawyers last week even filed a lawsuit on behalf of consumers who felt deceived by Apple, charging that the tiny player contains a thinner coating compared to other iPods. Apple has stated, however, that the nano is made of the same polycarbonate material. The company also has faced some complaints over cracks on the display. It has aknowledged the problem “in less than 0.1% of total production”. Apple blamed a bad supplier and said it would substitute any such damaged device.
All in all, the nano still seems to be a nice addition to Apple’s lineup. The player is practical, slender and offers great sound quality. Scrolling through the options is incredibly fast and the screen is very bright and “readable”. A personal piece of advice: though the white is the traditional one, choose the black model, which is even more beautiful.