Playlist Club co-founder Jonny Rocket got his hands on an iPod nano, and here's what he learned:
Available now in black or white in either 2GB or 4GB capacities; UPDATE: A 1GB model recently added.
Weight: 1.5 ounces;
Battery life: a claimed 14-hours
Size: 3.5-x-1.6-x-0.27 inches;
Price: 2GB,£139; 4GB, £179 (including VAT);
The iPod nano is the hot new digital music player from Apple that lets music lovers carry up to 1,000 songs to listen to on the move - and it’s tiny.
Apple’s new gadget is in the public eye, so I took a look. Does it live up to the hype?
The answer is partially a yes. A delight to the eye the well-manicured appearance of the black iPod nano is a delight. It’s smaller than a credit card and about as thick as a local newspaper. It weighs just 1.5 ounces, and I have not yet seen a picture that does justice to the device. It offers a high-quality 1.5-inch colour screen that lets you navigate through songs. This even displays album artwork when playing iTunes purchases.
The iPod nano uses solid-state memory (called flash memory). This makes it a tough creature, if you drop it you may break the screen, but it should still play the music.
It’s not just a music player. It lets users carry and see digital images transferred from a computer - Macintosh or Windows PC. It has games installed and users can store notes and contacts, it has a clock, a stopwatch, an alarm and a built-in calendar. The gadget also carries a screen lock, which makes stealing the device pointless.
Apple claims its device has 14-hours battery life, but I’ve been unable to test this in time. Batteries in such devices degrade over time, however, so it’s a good idea to let them run down completely occasionally and then to recharge them in order to keep them in good shape over time.
But all these extra features support the iPod nano’s primary function - playing music. And the iPod nano offers remarkably clear sound clarity - better than previous iPods.
Music sounds excellent in the treble and mid-range, though its bass lacks a little punch. The built-in digital graphics equalizer doesn’t really improve this. Despite the criticism the player remains a remarkably well-crafted portable audio device, and while bass-driven music may lack that special “feel”, acoustic music in particular sounds divine.
I compared the sound output against an iPod shuffle and an iPod photo, and believe the nano to have the clearest sound, while the others are “crunchier:, a little louder with a slightly better bass depth. Bear in mind that my test unit came from France, and that the European Union has imposed a limit on the sound volume for such products, so this may be behind the difference.
I tested a black iPod nano, and was disappointed that the black models ship with Apple’s white headphones. As well as being a target for robbers, these white headphones make no aesthetic sense if you have bought a black model. However, using the Apple headphones delivers the best sound experience. (I tested them against two other sets from a well-known manufacturer).
Transferring songs to the music player is easy - simply plug it in to a USB port on your Mac or PC and iTunes does the rest. iTunes will also automatically select a collection of songs if you have more music than the iPod will hold. Using USB 2 (the most recent type of USB) you should be able to fill a 4GB iPod nano in 28 minutes (my tests showed), though if you use USB 1 (the older type of USB) it may take ten times as long. This is bad for Mac users, as many relatively recent Macs don’t carry USB 2, so the first time you load the iPod you’ll have a long wait.
All things considered the iPod nano is a beautifully-designed device that does its job very well, despite my reservations concerning bass sound and white headphones. If you’re planning a Christmas gift for someone, it’s worth considering, as it’s likely to be the gift of the season.