Another holiday season, another batch of fresh iPods. We've been testing the new Touch, Nano and Shuffle to see how they fare with last year's models. Find our full impressions on all three here.
The Touch is now almost up to speed with the iPhone 4: new is a high-res Retina display at 960 x 640 pixels; both a back and front-facing camera for HD video and FaceTime, respectively; a speedy Apple A4 chip; gyroscopes for more accurate tilt controls; and a chassis that's been shaved down to just over a quarter of an inch thick.
The iPhone-without-the-phone keeps getting better. It surpassed the Nano this year as the best-selling iPod with good reason—it gets you into the App Store, matches the iPhone as the best mobile computing device when you're within Wi-Fi coverage, and is one of the sleekest industrial designs in Apple's portfolio—all without an AT&T contract.
Always-on data and GPS aside, the Touch still isn't quite an iPhone. The rear camera is not nearly as good. When compared to the iPhone 4, its video noticeably lacks contrast and saturation, and in still mode, the max resolution is a paltry 960 x 720 compared to the iPhone 4's impressive five-megapixel sensor. In their reviewer's guide, Apple doesn't even mention the camera's ability to take stills, so this is obviously something they're not proud of. And while the display matches the iPhone's ultra-high resolution, the panel is not quite as crisp and contrasty.
$230 (8GB), $300 (32GB), $400 (64GB)
While still a notch down from the iPhone 4 in a few departments, App Store access with no contract in a package this sexy remains a no-brainer for those in need of a dedicated MP3 player that's not a phone.
Bye bye clickwheel. The new Nano is Apple's latest multitouch convert. The form factor is now more Shuffle than Nano, and it also includes a clip.
The new Nano shrinks all the music capabilities of the old one (video is out) into a crazy small package. Also, the clock screen saver doubles as a wristwatch!
I've got to say, I miss the clickwheel. I don't disagree with Apple's current core design philosophy that touch interfaces are the future. But the new Nano demonstrates where multitouch can get dicey—when the screen is too small. At just 1.54 inches (diagonal) the Nano's display can fit only three-and-a-half list items (songs, albums with art, etc) on the screen at once. That means a lot of swiping to get through a longer album's tracks (and a partially obscured view of the screen while you're doing it). You don't want to cut all the hilarious interludes from your Lil' Wayne mixtape just to save space now, do you?
Navigating menus can also be tricky. A right-swipe brings you back a step, and a left swipe uncovers additional options at certain points. But the small screen often forces you to make both gestures over other tappable controls already on the screen. This can result in mis-taps, especially if you're switching tracks while fading fast on the treadmill like I do at around mile three.
$150 for 8GB, $180 for 16GB, all in seven colors
My previous-gen Nano can display ten text list items and six album covers per screen, and provides a more intuitive way to scroll through them quickly without blocking the screen. This could come down to personal preference, but for me, the hard buttons are more advantageous than a smaller form factor. Because hey, both iPods are practically weightless. If you exercise in pocketless clothing and hate to strap on an armband, the more capacious Nano with its clip (and screen) could be a nice step-up from your workout Shuffle. But beware the tiny touchscreen.
Gone is the no-buttons, stick-of-chewing-gum design from the last generation, killed in favor of something that more closely resembles the second-generation's round ring of buttons. They've made the controls larger while shrinking the overall product; now it's an even tinier aluminum chip clip with buttons.
One day, Apple will find a way to sell us something with multitouch that doesn't have a screen. As of now they haven't (YET), so the new Shuffle relies on a hybrid control scheme from previous generations that works perfectly. Gone is the headphone wire remote for advancing tracks according to a coded morse code of clicks; it's been replaced by the second-gen's friendly round of control buttons. What remains from the buttonless previous version is the cool VoiceOver feature that will announce the current track name, artist, playlist or battery remaining at the press of a dedicated button. It's such a useful feature, it should be standard across the line (How many times have you pulled your shuffling music player from your pocket to ID a song you couldn't quite remember?). Plus, it's fun to hear Mr. Synth Voice pronounce your favorite artists and tracks ("Yeah-Ma-Ha....The Dream").
It's not often Apple admits it's wrong, but in smartly reigning the crazier, buttonless Shuffle back in and adding buttons, they've improved on a product that tops all previous generations easily.
Sure, it's more convenient to have a screen, but that's not really the point here. And the headphone-mounted clickable remote would have been handy, but its absence means many will just clip the thing somewhere external and use the buttons on the face.
$50 for 2GB in five colors
A smart rollback. It doesn't get much more perfectly executed than this for $50.
Great article. Ya know, I'd get a nano if only it played more file types, like WMA. Those things are slick. My friend has one and if you give it a little shake it'll go to the next song. Sadly, I have to settle on a Sony Walkman (which isn't bad actually) because a lot of my music is wma and I don't want to go through the 7734 of converting them. But I have to say, with the smaller size of the nano (though the name is now more fitting), I don't think I'm interested any more. I think the smaller size was a bit of a mistake. Does anyone agree/disagree with that?
That's why you encode all your music in .mp3...it's universal and anything that doesn't play it is plain garbage.
Gives you the freedom of choosing what type of device you want instead of restricting you...
or you encode it in FLAC, and stick to devices that allow you freedom of choice in file format anyway. 'Course you could always buy an ipod and install rockbox, but why bother when every other portable media player out there is cheaper, larger and more efficient?
I agree, making it smaller was a bad move. Oh, and if you're looking for a nano-like pmp that plays wma's, may I recommend the fuze?
Any device that doesn't play mp3s are garbage? What about a singing tesla coil? They only play MIDI files but they are most certainly not garbage...
I agree about the size. At first I thought the nano was the shuffle. If they made a touchscreen nano that was sized close to the old one with a nostalgic on screen interface that would be cool.
I would have to disagree with many here, on the size change.
If you think the nano is too small, get an iPhone or iPod, the nano fills a niche here for people who just want to listen to music without taking too much space.
For the new shuffle: Why not both? I could use the buttons on the face if it's just laying somewhere, or I could use the coded buttons on the headphones if I don't want or can't reach for it (such as if I'm driving or in cramped conditions). I liked the design that let me put my Shuffle in my backpack and change songs at will, I just didn't like having to be forced to buy this separate little cord just to plug it into any normal headphones or speakers.
These gadgets are obsolete before they debut. The next gen: implanted sound generator by ear canal, implanted touch-sensitive panel by right (or left) eye with holographic projection of display about 12 inches in front of eye. Use finger at temple to slide up/down/forward/back to make all selections while viewing holographic image. Rejuvenate software by holding special device near temple, load new software into temple touch panel (TTP).
Anyone with me?
You heard it here first, folks! No wires, no widgets to lose. Just implanted, upgradeable small stuff.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course. But I started ripping music to my hard drive before mp3 players even came out. I would've never guessed that more than a decade later that apple would still refuse to support wma format. The problem is not that I encoded to wma rather than mp3 (mp3 came first, but wma was integrated into win media player and was an easy choice - again, hindsight is 20/20). The problem is that apple refuses to read all the major formats. You're right of course. mp3 is a more universally accepted format. But again, I started ripping music before mp3 players were popular so I didn't know what the market would be like in 2010. The bottom line is that Apple is expecting people like me to convert a lot of music to another format just to use their product. And that's not a very profitable business decision.
I hate it when people complain that Apple purposefully nerfs the iPod Touch so it doesn't cannibalize iPhone sales.
A no-contract 32GB iPhone 4 is $700.
A 32GB iPod Touch is $300.
Obviously there's no comparison.
I haven't seen the new iPods in person, but judging by the size of my thumbs, the Nanos are too small. Just watch, Lady Gaga is going to start using them as pendants for her "avante-garde" neckwear
i love that apple keeps improving the items haha im deffinately in need of a new ipod soooo im thinkin the new itouch is perfectt ahaha