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.
Both its software and its screen are brighter. Although it wasn't "completely remastered," as was the iPod nano, the flagship 5G iPod received a sprucing up in its latest incarnation. It shares the same software upgrades as the iPod nano, and its larger screen and larger capacity make the interface's search improvements more welcome than on the nano. Also on the software side is the addition of games (reviewed on p66), which can run on older 5G video-capable iPods, too.
The Hi-Fi looks cool without its black-mesh covering. If you want a good-sounding iPod speaker system, you can spend as little as $149.99 for the Logitech mm50 (www.logitech.com) or as much as $399.99 for the Klipsch iFi (www.klipsch.com). The iPod Hi-Fi nestles into the upper end of that range at $349. Its sound quality goes a long way toward justifying its price tag, but we can't help wishing for more from the company that invented the iPod itself.
FM, fine - but forget about ball games. The tiny iPod Radio Remote adds FM reception to your iPod nano or video-capable iPod. Bundled with standard earbuds attached to a shorter cable, the remote clips to your shirt, pocket, or whatever. When you plug the remote into your iPod's docking port, a Radio item appears in the 'Pod's main menu; select it, and the FM-tuning screen appears. It's a snap to select stations using the Click Wheel or mark favorite stations and jump to them with the forward and back buttons on either the iPod or the remote (which can also be used to control your iPod). Unfortunately, although reception is excellent when tuned to strong stations, weaker stations drift in and out.