Apple's second-generation iPod Nano
More a remixed re-issue than a bold new album?
The new Nano is a step backwards, of course. A year ago, Apple made such a big deal about the risk of setting aside the popular iPod Mini in favour of the then new slimline Nano, but now we find it going back to the Mini look, right down to the metallic shell, rounded sides, white plastic top and bottom, and the colour scheme...
Of course, having established the black and white pairing and seen it emulated during the last 12 months by a thousand electronic devices, Apple has little choice but to make a change if it's to stay ahead of the game, and at least this time round the colours are bold, not the gentle pastel shades of the Mini.
In your hand, the Nano remains as tiny as ever. Old and new models aren't identically dimensioned, but the difference is marginal. The new version has the rounded sides of the Mini rather than the flatter sides of the first-generation Nano, but it doesn't make the new device seem any smaller, or any more comfortable to use, I found. It's not like the first Nano's edges were harsh, as they were on the very first hard drive-based iPods.
Round or flat is a matter of personal preference, of course. However, all Nano users are likely to appreciate the new model's larger Hold slider, which is easier to move than its predecessor, though it isn't raised any further above the top of the player.
On the base, the earphone socket is once again placed on the left-hand side, but it's slightly further away from the dock connector than was the case with the original nano, so expect to have to replace some of your accessories if you upgrade to a 2G model.
The click-wheel works much as before, but there's a neat new touch: the central button is slightly concave, which makes it easier to locate and press by touch alone, and simply feels better. It's second only to having a raised centre button, but at least there's no risk here of accidental presses.
The Armani or Dolce & Garbana of MP3 players - Apple have done a great job of selling the Emperor's New Clothes, and now updates that are slightly incompatible with some [many?] existing accessories. One has to congratulate them on not only their ingenuety at [their own] wheel reinvention but also their marketing skills - very Japanese-must-have-the-latest-and-greatest-update.
I'm steered to almost any MP3 player but Apple by this latest update.
FM Radio? yours for only...
Apple has 'solved' the FM radio question with a reported decent add-on radio attachment that doubles as a remote. The 55 euro contribution required will make sure the iPod money keeps on spinning in.
Just more of the same
It seems to me that to make the product financialy viable Apple need a constant stream of upgraders; endless minor improvements to make the gullible fools who read Stuff and T3 to part with their cash. They really are at the minor end of qualitative improvements -- all, if you ask me, a desperate grab to try and sell the idea of MP3 players of not being a commodity device. Sony tried this with the "Walkman" in the 80s and failed completely. When you can buy a 2GB MP3 player for £50 or less, the days of paying premiums for these players is clearly numbered.
Personally I think the Nano represents great value for money - however for the price of the 8gig version you can get a full blown 30gig video iPod - so I'm not sure I see the point, also it only seems to be available in black.
The other thing is the 1gig version, which I find most appealing due to my simplistic needs, has not been replaced as yet.
I'm struggling to see the point of the change though. It's still an iPod Nano, only it's shapped a bit differently. Is the screen less susceptible to scratches? Does the battery last a bit longer? I suppose new technology could benefit both those issues.
What would be cool is if the Nano incorporated the video feature of the larger iPods, but as it only has a 1.5 inch screen I can see why this hasn't been done.
The point of making it available in different colours? I'm not sure, because it still seems a bit flimsy to give to kids, the only "demographic" that would truly care what colour an mp3 player is. Whether the fact you can get it in blue, pink or green would convince those 3 people that don't like them enough to jump on the bandwagon seems somewhat unlikely.
No wow factor
The new Nano really does feel and look like a Mini that breathed in. I like that Apple generally makes a either a big step forward or chooses not to fix what isn't broken. Unfortunately, if you go to find a new Nano with a sense of anticipation, you might feel somewhat disappointed.