Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Apple iPod Nano (sixth generation)
Apple's new iPod Nano has undergone a complete overhaul
- Responsive and clear multitouch screen, compact, FM radio, ease of use
- No camera, no video recorder, lacks alarm clock and calendar, can't manually turn it off, no in-line headphone controls
Apple has completely overhauled the iPod Nano. The sixth-generation portable media player is even smaller than its predecessors and features a handy touchscreen, but it lacks some key features of previous models.
Price$ 229.00 (AUD)
The iPod Nano, now in its sixth generation, has received a hefty facelift. Gone is the long, slim design of the fifth-generation Nano along with the traditional click wheel control system. The new Nano has been made 46 per cent smaller and 42 per cent lighter, according to Apple, and for the first time possesses a touchscreen display.
The new iPod Nano looks like an iPod Shuffle with a touchscreen slapped on. It has a square body that has a clip on the back. It is hard to fault the new Nano's looks: anodised aluminium covers the majority of the device, and the iPod is available in seven bright colours. It is just 37.5mm tall and weighs a mere 21.1g. There are two aluminium buttons on the top left of the Nano that control volume, as well as a sleep/wake button on the right hand side. The dock connector remains centred on the bottom of the iPod, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the right.
The most radical change is the removal of Apple's patented click wheel. Instead, Apple has fitted the device with a 240x240 multitouch, capacitive touchscreen. It is only a 1.5in display, but like the touchscreens on the iPod Touch and iPhone 4 it is very responsive and easy to use. You can rearrange on-screen icons by holding them down and dragging them. You can also change the display's orientation by holding two fingers on it and twisting them in a circular motion.
To use the iPod you simply swipe left and right to change screens and hold down one finger on the screen to return to the home screen. One gesture that does take some time to grasp is flicking to the right to go back to the previous screen. Holding down a finger to return to the home screen worked exceptionally well; we tried this on many different sections of the display and were successful every single time.
The compact design of the Apple iPod Nano does have some drawbacks — it has been stripped of the camera and video recording capabilities of the previous model, and it no longer has an integrated speaker. Other features have also been removed, including games, calendar and the alarm clock, the last of which will be a disappointing omission for many users. The photo gallery has survived the cut, which is somewhat surprising given the lack of camera. One thing we can't understand is the included headphones' lack of in-line controls — you can't operate the Nano without using the touchscreen, so being able to play, pause and skip tracks with headphone controls seems like a no-brainer.
One feature that Apple has decided to keep is the FM radio tuner, which is both easy to use and useful. You can scan for local stations in your area and choose one from the list of save a list of preset stations for easy access. During testing, reception for radio stations was excellent with minimal interference. There is also a clear fitness theme with the new iPod Nano — a pedometer is included to count the number of steps you take during a regular day and this can be synced with a Nike+ account.
The Nano's interface for listening to music remains one of the best in the business but it takes a bit of practice to get used to the new iOS-like feel as opposed to the click wheel. Despite the smaller size of the Nano, Apple still quotes 24 hours of music playback before you'll need to charge the iPod.
One major issue we discovered was the inability to manually turn off the iPod Nano. Apple explains that after 36 hours of inactivity, the Nano will shut down automatically but before that it is in standby mode. Many users have complained that their iPod Nano hasn't lasted the 24 hours of music playback as promised by Apple. In the long-term, this could be a significant issue for the device.
With the new Nano, Apple has proved to us that less is not best. Key features that we loved on previous models like the camera, video recording and integrated speaker have disappeared. The new Nano remains a solid device for listening to music, and comes with some handy fitness features, but Apple has substituted features for looks.
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