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Home > Business > Special


What's so special about iPod Nano?

Arati Menon Carroll | October 01, 2005

Two weeks ago, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the latest edition in the colour iPod line -- the iPod Nano -- to an impatient audience.

Designed to be the ubercool successor to the still superpopular iPod Mini, the iPod Nano is Apple's strident statement on aggressive selling -- replacing one product at the height of its popularity with its sexier avatar, to further cement its firm hold on the digital music player market.

The Nano is essentially a minier-Mini with a colour display. It's like Apple says: "Take everything you love about iPod and shrink it. Now shrink it again. The seriously slimmed-down Nano (proving that size definitely matters) -- about a quarter of an inch (0.6 cm) thick, 3-1/2 inches (9 cm) long and 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) wide -- has a profile thinner than a pencil and is small enough to fit into the coin pocket of your jeans." The 1.5 ounce Nano comes with two storage capacities -- 2 GB to hold 500 songs, and 4 GB to hold 1,000 songs. The big disappointment to consumers is that the Nano has a lower capacity than the outgoing 6 GB Mini.

The Nano plays for up to 14 hours between battery charges, displays album art and photographs (although the screen is far too small for serious viewing), and its colour screen is sharper than ever. Older iPods (except for the low-capacity iPod Shuffle) have miniature hard drives in them, but the Nano is built around solid-state Flash memory.

The task for Apple was to create a music player that was somehow a marriage between the tiny size of the iPod Shuffle and the versatility of a regular iPod. Even pricing ($199 and $249) and capacity fall somewhere between the Shuffle and the Mini.

The Nano, it turns out, is quite a win over both design and functionality. And although some complaints have been registered about cracking LCD screens, the numbers are low enough to be ignored for now.

The conventional white iPod shares space with a jazzy black option this time (the only design oversight is that white headphones with a black iPod just doesn't make fashion history).

The user interface is similar to the current iPod colour line, with the addition of a couple of cute features like world clocks that can be set to the cities you want, and then show up in either white or black depending on whether it is day or night.

It's not just about the Nano though, the entire spectrum of iPod's offerings have been beefed up in the last year. The 12 GB iPod and now the Mini have been confined to history, available are the 20 GB, 60 GB, iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano.

All of them have click wheels that debuted on the Mini, a colour LCD screen and can view album pictures and side shows. Along with longer battery lives came 25 minutes of skip protection (music to a jogger's ears).

Even iTunes, iPod's music manager has been revamped, it now supports iPod synching for Outlook and Outlook Express on Windows PCs, contains over 1,000 album reviews, Parental Controls that limit kids' access to features and even syncs music to the Motorola ROKR E1(enough to make you want to switch cell phone brand loyalties).

And if all that doesn't make you, the consumer, feel special enough, go out and get yourself the iPod U2 special edition (unavailable in India). Jet black, it bears a prominent red click wheel, a full-color display and, on the flip side, the autographs of each U2 band member.

Available at a price premium - $329 as opposed to the $299 20GB iPod, what your money will get you is a U2 poster and as a special treat, an iTunes Music Store coupon you can use to get $50 off your purchase of, what else, the complete set of 400 U2 tracks. It's hard to know at what point iPod gives way to U2, but then trust Apple to get it right on devise co-branding.


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