iPod nano

Susie Ochs's picture

iPod nano

As inspiration for the new iPod nano, Apple looked to an iPod of the past - the iPod mini.

 

With its brightly colored aluminum casing, the second-generation iPod nano looks like a mini iPod mini, available in silver (2GB or 4GB); pink, green, and blue (4GB); and black (8GB). The new case is a vast improvement over the first-gen nano's easily scratched veneer. We carried it around in a bag for a week - crashing up against keys, coins, a camera, and other potential finish-wreckers - and it didn't pick up a single mark. Svelte at 3.5 by 1.6 by 0.26 inches and 1.41 ounces, it's even slimmer and lighter than the first iPod nano, and sturdy enough to survive being sat on by a 280-pound reviews editor when it was in his back pocket.

 

The 1.5-inch LCD is 40 percent brighter, according to Apple, and photos look sharp and clear on it - although the four-by-three grid of tiny thumbnails is still hard to see, and you still can't connect the nano to a TV. The battery life has also been improved. On the 4GB model, we got 20.9 hours of music playback (at 50 percent volume with the backlight and Sound Check turned off), and the 8GB model rocked out for a full 24 hours. The redesigned earbuds sounded much better than the chintzier old ones, especially on the low end, although they still hurt our ears after half an hour and wouldn't stay put while jogging.

 

The other changes are to the iPod nano's software, including gapless playback, which removes the space between tracks when it shouldn't have been there in the first place - especially nice when listening to concept albums, live concert recordings, and classical music. iTunes 7 will analyze your music looking for gapless albums, but if it guesses wrong (it didn't tag any of our Phish or Wilco concerts as being gapless, for example), you can select the album's tracks, press Command-I, and select Yes in the Gapless Album drop-down menu.

 

The nano's Search function, found under the Music menu, is easy to use and includes helpful icons to distinguish songs from artists, albums, podcasts, and audiobooks, so you'll be able to tell "Graceland" the song from Graceland the album in the search results. It searches for the string you entered anywhere in the title, not just at the beginning; entering bla brought up Blackalicious as well as Fear of a Black Planet. The Quickscroll function, which superimposes the first letter of items in a list over that list as you scroll through it quickly, isn't as useful as on the big iPod because the nano's smaller capacity lends itself to shorter lists. We found it helpful only when scrolling through the Songs list, which tends to be the longest, and even then, the letters most frequently popping up were B and Y, toward the opposite ends of the alphabet.

 

You can now also set a maximum volume so you don't reach into your pocket, accidentally brush the clickwheel, and blast out your eardrums. One minor quibble: All the first-generation nano cases we had lying around either fit poorly or not at all, but new cases will be out by the time you read this; plus, the nano's aluminum body doesn't really need a case to prevent most scratches.

 

The bottom line. The new iPod nano is smaller, brighter, tougher, plays longer, and has double the capacity per dollar. What's not to love?

 

COMPANY: Apple
CONTACT: 800-692-7753 or 408-996-1010, www.apple.com
PRICE: $149 (2GB), $199 (4GB), $249 (8GB)
REQUIREMENTS: USB-equipped Mac, Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, iTunes 7 or later
Aluminum body. Gapless playback. Longer battery life. Even slimmer design.
No FireWire syncing.

 

 

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