Apple iPod nano: Review
The new iPod nano bears no relation to any previous model – and that could prove to be a mistake
Oh Apple, what have you done to our beloved iPod nano? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as the saying goes.
Historically, the nano (and before that, the iPod mini) have always been miniature versions of the iPod – a similar form factor, but with less storage capacity.
Sure, Apple has tweaked this winning formula over time – doing away with the click-wheel, introducing a range of multi-coloured nanos, conjuring up a stubbier, chubbier version, and even adding in an HD video camera – but the overall nano concept has remained the same; it’s like an iPod, just smaller.
The new iPod nano has undergone a dramatic makeover: gone is the familiar shape of old, replaced instead with a form factor that owes more to the iPod shuffle than the iPod classic; the tiny 1.5in screen is touch-enabled, so a tap of the finger sends you whizzing through menu systems and album art; and the emphasis is firmly back on music, rather than on shooting videos or watching films.
This new nano feels like an over-priced iPod shuffle with a screen, rather than a discrete product in its own right. It also feels like a poor relation to the iPod touch. As such, it risks falling between two stools.
Consumers can choose between an 8GB (€159) or 16GB (€189) model in a variety of colours. I think
it’s telling that Apple hasn’t introduced a 16GB version of its iPod touch, for around the €260 mark – it’s not hard to imagine such a device cannibalising sales of the iPod nano.
That’s not to say the nano is a horrible device to use; Apple should be applauded for creating such a slick, easy-to-use touch-screen interface on such a diminutive product.
For some, the nano's emphasis on simple music playback, rather than gimmicks such as recording or watching films, will be a huge plus point.
Moreover, its excellent battery life and compact size make it an indispensable exercise companion for runners and keep-fit fanatics, particularly with Nike Plus and a pedometer built in to the device.
But the fundamental problem, for me at least, is that it doesn’t feel like an iPod. It lacks the cheap and cheerful charm of the shuffle, and the premium lustre of the touch.
It feels as though you are paying extra money just for the privilege of tapping a touch-screen rather than clicking a button.
In short, it feels like the sort of device other companies churn out when they are trying to emulate Apple's Midas touch.
While you cannot fault the new iPod nano for its ease of use, I think it has lost something in its redesign;
it’s lost a vital connection with its history and heritage, and a sense of its place within the Apple ecosystem.
The new iPod nano is eminently usable, but it’s also completely forgettable. It’s not hard to see why the iPod touch is now Apple’s best-selling music device.