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Small is big with the iPod Nano
Lindsay Pereira |
September 22, 2005
It weighs 1.5 ounces. When you ask a dictionary what that means, it says 'very ,very little'. You can hide it behind your visiting card if you want to. It comes from Apple, that home of all things cool. And, by the way, it lets you listen to around 1,000 songs.
Say hello to the iPod nano.
For the few still unfamiliar with the original iPod -- now a healthy four years old -- there is simply no excuse. At least not if you claim to love music above most other things. Eliminating the need for a history lesson, the nano manages to take the best of its predecessors -- the iPod, iPod photo, iPod mini and iPod shuffle -- and squeeze it all into an unbelievably small package. You can't hold it in the palm of your hand without feeling your jaw drop just a little.
Available in the classic iPod white or a shiny black, the nano comes in two versions -- a 2GB model (for 500 songs of around four minutes each) and a 4GB one (1,000 songs). Given varying song sizes, you ought to manage a decent 800, give or take a few tracks. It manages this the same way the iPod shuffle does, by relying on flash memory. By storing data on a microchip, rather than on a bulky hard drive, it manages to stay compact, while working a lot faster than most non-flash players.
For Apple fanatics -- may their tribe increase -- the best part is the nano goes back to the original click-wheel navigation that made the iPod so groundbreaking. Even better, unlike last year's shuffle, the nano gives you the same blue-white LED backlight display its more expensive brethren possess, with even greater resolution! What this means is, apart from song and title information scrolling across your screen, you also get access to album art. It also means you can download and view your photographs, like the iPod photo.
Apart from its astonishing size, there are a few other firsts here.
The nano is the first iPod with an 'unplayed podcasts indicator', informing you of podcasts you haven't listened to yet. It also has a 'lyrics screen', for those in the mood to sing along. The lyrics currently need to be added by hand, but Apple, being Apple, is probably working around that little issue even as you read this.
There's more: A built-in stopwatch, and a locking feature that prevents nosey colleagues at work from messing around with your music. Interestingly, just as Mac users alone could until now, the software update lets Windows users sync their Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar to the player.
The nano also comes with Apple's iPod dock Adapter (a one-size-fits-all version), in addition to the regular stuff such as a USB cable, Apple ear buds, iTunes 5 software and a manual. Its standard connector lets you use it with all iPod accessories currently available.
Not bad for something so tiny, yes?
There's no issue with sound either. For something 80 percent smaller than the original iPod and 62 percent smaller than the mini, it's as powerful. Most music formats are supported, with the exception of Windows Media files. According to Apple, the nano's battery is supposed to last a little over 14 hours on a single charge, and four hours for continuous slideshows. I haven't checked the latter claim out yet, but, going by previous iPod experiences, I'd say the company isn't kidding.
Now, the bad bits. To be honest, they don't really qualify as 'bad', so let's use 'minor irritants' instead.
To begin with, there's that issue about a headphone port on the bottom, rather than the top where other iPods have them. It takes getting a little used to while fiddling around with your adapter.
Then there's the nano's size that, despite its ability to impress, also forces you to be a lot more careful. The chance of you throwing it away with your visiting cards, though not very likely, isn't exactly improbable either.
The biggest problem is the non-availability of a FireWire connection. If you've just tuned in, FireWire is Apple's version of a High Performance Serial Bus that lets you connect devices to your personal computer. A standard FireWire can transfer data at 400 MB per second, which is what you need while dealing with large amounts of data. The nano forces you to use a USB 2.0 port alone, making the transfer of data more time-consuming than necessary.
Eventually, if it's value for money you're after, I'd suggest you try the iPod mini. Thanks to the way our market works, it isn't defunct here yet. If, however, you place the coolness factor above all, the nano is for you. I don't foresee any product ousting it anytime soon.
Pros and Cons
~ Controls are a lot more responsive than before.
~ No hard drive, which lets the nano work a lot faster.
~ Bright display; much better than in other iPod models.
~ Lyrics page and Podcast indicator available.
~ Easy to sync.
~ Skipping almost eliminated. Thanks, again, to flash memory.