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When the original ipod nano was released - of course I wanted one. Every child within reach of a TV or newspaper wanted one; the slender design and stunning good looks captivated the entire buying market. Shops were overcome with demand, as everyone from thirty year old recovering alcoholics to five year old juvenile delinquents with credit cards rushed to seize up what remained. Meanwhile, the creators at Apple lapped it up; they sat and watched the stampedes forming with smug grins on their faces - anticipating the inevitable success that was still to come.
Less than a year later and Apple have sprung back into the limelight with a revelation they call the 'second generation'. Admittedly it hasn't been greeted with the same media frenzy, but that isn't it's purpose. Over the past year, competition for the top name as an mp3 player has become fiercer than ever, and while more advanced players are being developed - Apple are hanging on for dear life with a conception that has gotten old. The new range of Ipod's, (a second generation shuffle has also been released and the video should be updated in the new year) is in my opinion, a marketing ploy that will enforce Apple's 'name' and keep them relatively safe from any competition, at least for the next few months. Not being one to allow a crazed millionaire to sell an essentially average product at extortionate prices without getting a piece of the action, the new Ipod took first place on my Christmas wish list.
The new line of Ipod Nano's, available in 2gb, 4gb and 8gb, check in at £99.99, £129.99 and £179.99 respectively. The price of the higher end version is interesting, due to the fact that it falls only £10 short of the 30gb Ipod video. This suggests that prospective buyers of the Ipod Nano would be more interested in the iconic reputation that comes with it, or the aesthetics, than they would be with the storage capacity. Apparently Apple knows their customers better than we thought.
Each particular model of the Ipod Nano range comes with its own pre-selected list of colourations. And whilst both the model with the lowest storage capacity and the model with the highest are limited to only one colour each, the mid-range 4gb exceeds with a multitude of versions being sold. The fact that the 2gb Ipod Nano is only produced in silver; which could be perceived as slightly dull, could have been intended to propel colour-envious individuals to opt for the more expensive 4gb - a devious move by any standards. Meanwhile the 4gb is produced in not only silver, but blue, green and pink. Considering that the Nano's target market is mainly teenagers, these colours seem to suit everyone. A limited charity edition has also seen red being added to the list of colours, alongside the original four. The only colour the top of the range black model permanently features is black, although it is also temporarily reaping the benefits of the red charity edition. The black model also hosts a black clickwheel, and is the only Nano where the colour of the clickwheel matches the colour of the body. As I opted for the 2gb silver, this is what I shall be reviewing.
What's in the Box? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The packaging of the second generation Ipod Nano has experienced a radical change since the original was brought out, with an immensely small plastic shell replacing the thick black box that Ipod's are usually housed inside. This 52% reduction in volume seems to understate the whole nano feel, as well as being something for the environmentalists to shout about. Suspended between two transparent supports lies the actual ipod, underneath which the accessories are hidden in a white box.
Removing the Ipod from it's supports is enough to leave anyone breathless. It feels incredibly desirable resting in my palm, and within seconds has left a lasting impression upon me. Apple have designed yet another winner, and exactly as you would expect - the Ipod Nano could be described as both elegant and simplistic. Aluminum casing has replaced the aged 'shiny' metal, which strikes an uncanny resemblance to the short-lived 'Ipod Mini', but the infamous clickwheel remains. Something that struck me with the first generation Ipod Nano was how fragile it felt, as though it would break with the slightest gesture; and I was keen to test out whether this fault remained. Amazingly, it hasn't. The Nano feels sturdy, and I've learnt to trust myself with it.
According to Steve Jobs, the second generation Ipod Nano is even thinner than the first. Common sense disagrees with him, as does a naked eye comparison. If it's thinner than it's not by much. Upon inspection of the specs, I discovered that it is indeed thinner, by an entire 0.01 inches. Well, no-one said that Steve Jobs wasn't one for exaggeration. Aside from the incredible difference in depth, all dimensions remain the same. The newer Ipod Nano does seem a tad taller, but im assuming that this is a trick of the eye.
Once the ipod has been safely removed - the plate of plastic which features the supports can be lifted up to reveal two white cardboard flaps. Delve even deeper and we come across the contents of the box.
Apparently the size of the packaging hints at what's inside, because I had to use a magnifying glass to find anything. The usual three tree's worth of paperwork is missing, and in its place we find a small wad of leaflets, neatly held together with a plastic seal. I would have deemed these completely useless, if it had not been for the illustrations. I remember my first Ipod, and the nightmares I had pointlessly trying to discover what went where - so I can imagine the illustrations would be extremely useful to 'Ipod Virgins'. Saying that, the written instructions told me nothing that I needed, or even wanted to know, and I set up my Ipod based on memorized experience rather than from non-existent guidance from Apple. Being stubborn, I just couldn't accept that Apple might have decided to banish the full set of instructions - and so I set about finding them. Sure enough, squashed into the back of a leaflet, I found a link to the Apple website; full to the brim with helpful hints and tips.
We then come across a seemingly useless piece of white plastic. Apparently this is called a dock adapter, and allows me to use the nano in a universal docking station; where I would charge my Ipod. The actual docking station isn't included with the Nano, thanks to certain tight individuals - and having already spent in excess of £150 on the Ipod, insurance and accessories, I couldn't ignore the advice of my parent's bank manager any further without risking serious punishment; therefore I can't comment on it. However I seriously can't imagine there being much wrong with a piece of white plastic.
The USB cable included has proved invaluable to me. Obviously without it I wouldn't be able to transfer files, nor would I be able to charge. But my old one was beginning to look like it'd spent a week in the coal mines.
Compared to those included with the last Ipod generation, the new remodeled set of earphones are incredible. Aside from the structure change, which I noticed helped keep them in my ears; they're not at all discomfortable. They've also become more slimlined, and therefore better looking, which is always a plus. However, it's not because of the way these earphones look or feel that im singing their praise. It's because of the amount of noise reduction. With my old earphones I would find myself turning the Ipod up to maximum volume, in an attempt to cut out background noise. Not only was I damaging my hearing by doing this, but it was in vain anyway. With these, there is simply no need. Noise reduction is not effected by volume, and background noise is minimal. It's true that there are better earphones out there, but for Apple this is a significant improvement, and a tribute to their advances.
One thing that was missing was a CD. Apple claim that this is no longer needed, because the software can be downloaded from their website. Call me old-fashioned (at your own risk,) but I much preferred the CD as a method of getting Itunes; it was much more straightforward, and downloading had no chance of being interrupted by a faulty internet connection. I already had Itunes 6 installed on my computer, but needed an upgrade to Itunes 7, which is readily compatible with the new range of Ipod's. Frankly, the new Itunes isn't that much of an improvement, although it's easier on the eye.
In case of the unfortunate event that you have been locked in a dark room for the last five years; I'll explain how the Ipod works. The actual Mp3 player features one simple click wheel, which in fairness is all you need; and the simplicity of which has made Apple famous. You spin your finger around the wheel to change volume or browse through tracks, and press the center button to go forward, (like an enter button.) There's then a play/pause button at the bottom of the wheel, and a menu button at the top. The menu buttons takes you back, so it's strange that it's called a 'menu' button. On each side of the clickwheel there is also a fast-forward/backward button. The click wheel is touch sensitive, and feels almost next-generation to use. There is also a small switch at the top, which in effect locks the wheel. Because Ipod's are touch sensitive, it's extremely easy to press something you didn't want to press whilst it's in your pocket, such as the volume control - so I'd advise you always use this. On the bottom of the Ipod are two sockets, one for the earphones, and one for the USB cord.
Something which has always been a characteristic of the Ipod range, is that they never switch off. They seem to sit in a semi-sleep form until you press a button and activate it again. Hypothetically you can hold down the play button and it should switch off, but I find this has the same effect as simply leaving the backlight to switch itself off. This guzzles unnecessary energy. Once the Ipod is 'awake' you are brought to a main menu - featuring the options - music, photos, extras, settings, shuffle songs and now playing.
Press the music button and you come across a whole range of ways to find the song you're looking for. New to this ipod is the search feature, which doesn't live up to expectations.
You can upload photos to your Ipod via the USB cord, I've tried this and I have to say I don't see the point. The screen is so small that viewing becomes a chore instead of a pleasure, and even with the new improved screen, quality is nothing to boast about. I also found it a waste of valuable memory.
There is also an extra's menu. Basically you get a clock; with Californian time already installed, (I assume this is where they make the Ipod.) Setting the time and date for England couldn't be easier, as all times zones around the world are included in a list, from which you pick and choose to go on the main screen. If I, for any reason found myself without a phone or watch, (presumably I'm on a desert island here?) then the Ipod makes for a great replacement. The clock is also handy whilst traveling because you can view multiple times simultaneously. A few simple games, which I found hard to use with the clickwheel, also feature. As does a contacts list, a calendar, stopwatch and notes section. Just don't ask me what I was timing with the stopwatch. ;-P
The last three items on the main menu explain themselves.
The last time a nano was released people went home with sparkling new, gorgeous ipod's, and returned a few days later to the shop complaining about the fact that their ipod was now a scratched up mess. A law suit was even claimed; personally I didn't see the point. Yes, my ipod too was completely scratched up, but I took out insurance for a reason. And they should have been aware when they invested what it was they were investing in. It's hardly the manufactures problem if they weren't insured. Deep breath…
Whatever your view, this time round it's not a problem. I've had the ipod for a few weeks now and although it's obtained a few minor scratches there's nothing serious. I've dropped it numerous times, and on the one occasion that it actually pulled free from the earphones and fell to the ground it left the incident unscathed. I've also sat on it, and it came out from that fine as well.
A friend of mine put it through a washing machine (im assured that it accidental) and although it effectively died during the cycle, it came back to life after a few hours of being dried, with no lasting damage. For me this is a relief, knowing how accident prone I am!
According to apple, the new ipod nano is updated with a 40% brighter screen. Held alongside the older version there is certainly a noticeable difference. Everything about the first generation ipod is starting to look slightly aged, but I think this is where the biggest improvement lies. The words are easily recognizable on the screen, in comparison to being blurred as with the first generation; and the brighter backlight makes usage in dark places easier.
Apple also claims a longer battery life of 24 hours. Especially for this review I decided to test that theory out, and left it playing music overnight. I returned the following morning expecting the ipod to have died, but as a pleasant surprise I found it just over 2/3 full. In fact, the little bugger refused to die. It took a grand total of 29 hours 34 minutes for it to stop working. This is by far the best battery life I've ever seen in an ipod. And not only does it fulfill the claims made by apple, but they seem to have underrated it's powers. This is a day I thought I'd never see.
Alongside the ipod I bought a pack of six 'ipod socks' to protect it. They look jazzy and seem to be doing a good job. I hated having to dress my ipod in the dull thick casing (eliminating the whole point of the nano in my point) which for a long time was the only option - so this somewhat more fashionable form of protection is a must. The only downside was the cost, as even on Amazon they were upwards of £15. Cheaper alternatives are available, but for me it's all about the label.
There are hundreds of accessories to go alongside the nano range, all of which are marketed at excessive prices (in the true name of apple) and all of which look simply stunning. The only other thing I have thought of investing in is the Nike + ipod set, although that could get rather costly with the trainers having to be bought as well.
So has it worked? Has apple come foreword with an mp3 player that will continue to stun prospective buyers throughout the New Year? For me, yes. True, the instructions are junk, and apple were too tight to include a docking station; but as an mp3 player, this is the daddy.
Excellent Review. Well Structured And Plenty Of Detail.
dvdsprks2 25.08.2007 21:09
Excellent review, I'm out of E's so give me a nod to re-rate, I personally like Creative products. I have an aversion to Apple goes back to the computer day but my daughter has an ipod and the 8gb nano, an enjoyable read. David