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Review of the iPod Nano (G6) Player
In the box:
It's simple: if you want to buy a functional player with video recording, radio, good display, metal casing and traditional controls, you should consider the iPod Nano G5. That is, you should consider the previous generation model.
If it is more of a fine accessory that you are looking for, then you should go for the year 2010 Nano.
It's not quite appropriate to begin a review with a conclusion, but just stay with me as I have more to say.
Materials and Design
This time, I received a utilitarian steel Nano, which looks very nice. Actually, the color is dark grey. The metal is smooth, solid, there is naturally no squeaking or flex there. Save for a display instead of the buttons on the front panel, the new Nano looks very much like the two years old Shuffle. On the rear side, you can find a large and fairly tight clip that makes it easy to attach the device to one's clothes. On the bottom, there is a proprietary port and minijack. The display appears to have a real glass coating to it and attracts a lot of fingerprints.
The overall dimensions are 37.5 х 40.9 х 8.78 mm, and the weight is 21.1 grams. In the bundle, one can also find a USB cable and a pair of trivial earphones. As always, the packaging is beyond praise; it is a nice little box, which one doesn't feel like throwing away.
Everyone is also excited about the looks of the player, willing to get their hands on it. Once you mention the small sensor screen – they immediately start touching it, playing with it, etc. They ask questions, whether or not it has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. Everyone is charmed and intrigued. Naturally, the Nano G5, a modest workhorse, didn't enjoy such reception.
As far as my personal impressions are concerned, the model didn't leave me indifferent either despite the fact I am not the target audience. I like it, that's for sure. Everything is thought-out, everything is solid, and everything is just fine.
Well, that is so if we are talking about the looks.
The screen is 1.54 inches wide, has a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels, and the menu is handy. As you know, the screen is touch-sensitive and uses a capacitive sensor. It is bright, the viewing angles are decent, and that's pretty much it.
On the top, there are volume control buttons (just like in the iPhone 4) and a power button. Or to be precise, the latter puts the Nano in the sleep mode. The rest needs to be done via the display. There are no problems browsing the menu or controlling the playback; the screen is quite responsive but it is not the kind of screen you may be familiar with if you have owned an iPhone. Occasionally, there are some lags. Occasionally, you have to tap once more. Occasionally, you have to repeat that another two or three times to make it work. I don't want to say that Apple's special sensor screen usability is not there; it's not like that. It's just that the size matters and you need to get used to the display.
Certainly, you won't be able to pause the playback without taking the device out of your pocket, just like you would do with the iPod Nano G5. The new Nano demands that you look at it. This is going to be a significant drawback for many users.
The new Nano is available in two options: 8 GB and 16 GB. Apparently, the higher capacity modules have been laid aside for the iPod Touch. Anyway, it is an open question whether the Nano can still be called a player. I would say it is more of a tech accessory or something like that.
I just wanted to say that iTunes can see it. The current firmware is version 1.0, and my test unit had 16 GB of inbuilt memory. You have the standard "Music", "Podcasts", "Books" and "Photos" folders and when you connect the player for the first time, it will do its best to synchronize your whole music library, not without complaining about the insufficient memory space – in a word, quickly tick the "handle music manually" checkbox and that will be it.
You shouldn't expect any changes there: "Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV." If you have a lot of ALACs, you shouldn't convert them but get yourself some other headphones and the 16 GB Nano.
The player is claimed to provide up to 24 hours of music playback on a single charge and supports the "fast" charge feature (i.e. it charges up to 80% of the battery capacity in about 1.5 hours via USB; the full charge time is about three hours). Battery life is much dependent on the screen usage. The more you use it, the sooner the battery will die, which is quite obvious. A simple music playback test resulted in a runtime of 21 hours, which may however somewhat improve in the future as the battery was just out of the box.
As far as remote controls are concerned, the player works extremely well with original headsets, that is, you can have it all: fast forward, rewind, pause, etc. In addition, an extra entry, voice recorder, becomes available in the menu once a headset is connected. I didn't even know there was one.
I would also like to tell you about one special type of accessories – i.e. wristlets that you can clip the Nano to. It appears that the developers had something like that in mind from the very beginning. There is a separate applet called "Watch" in the menu, a very beautiful and spectacular one. As it happens every now and again, a secondary feature but one that is done on a high level, becomes more important that the primary functionality. Nearly everyone asked me to show them the notorious watch mode. On the contrary, not a single person was interested in the radio or Live Pause.
It works only with the connected headset and as you see the screen shows only the most basic information: frequency at the top with the pause key below and arrows for station search near it. The menu is simple. You can find local stations, while RDS is not supported and you can only see the frequency. To go to the Live Pause you need to move a finger from right to left. The pause button once pressed activates recording of the live transmission. Rewind arrows help searching within the recording. The solution is quite appealing.
I will touch upon all menu items:
At the top you see a charge indicator and time. Some applications retain them at all times, while in others they disappear, which is not a good idea. For example, during the music playback you cannot see the indicator. If you fold the player the charge icon will be accompanied by icons Play or Pause if you stop the playback from the headset.
The menu is simple. If you do not touch Nano you will see the cover, which is great. When you touch the screen controls are activated with the main and auxiliary screens. The first one contains only main controls, while the auxiliary screen hosts mode selection (repeat, Shuffle, etc.), Genius activation, rewinding inside the track. There are no complaints here as everything is convenient. If you press "I" the track's ranking is displayed (you can set it here). In the menu icons can be placed at your discretion and the system is similar to that of iPhone: press and hold any icon, all miniatures start trembling and you only have to drag them where you want.
In settings you can access info on iPod, customize the screen brightness and activate iPad parameters. For example, there is a shake shuffling. It works fine, but it takes time to adjust. You can also level the volume, set the maximum volume or switch audio transition on and off. Preinstalled equalizer settings are traditional, but I do not suggest using them, because they do not influence the sound much.
In the settings you can indicate your weight to customize the pace counter and enter the daily walking limit, which should be set from the beginning. In main settings you can choose wallpaper, customize brightness, set date and time, activate Live Pause and choose the universal access. I could not understand what was meant by the phrase white on black in mono audio mode. Then we have a VoiceOver mode – it controls system changes and a female voice in the headphones tells about menu items I touch, notifies about the faded display, battery charge, etc. This should probably help the visually challenged. As in other players VoiceOver helps getting the info about the currently played track.
It is good for everyday listening by a person who is not after something special. There is nothing else to say about the small box with the touchscreen and an array of additional features.
The retail price of the new iPod Nano 8 GB is $200, while the 16 GB model fetches $270. These are average prices and you can find slightly cheaper or more expensive options. Almost for the first time in history we can choose between two Nano models and each of them has its advantages. 5th generation player is feature rich, boasts classical design and many strong points. I like it very much and the 16 GB model for $270 will be a good purchase. Nano 6 raises some questions. At the beginning I already mentioned that it is more of an accessory rather than a player. New Nano is destined to cause a stir among ladies and metrosexuals. Owners of iPhone and iPod Touch will not look in its direction, fans of rich features will buy a previous generation player, while the majority will buy a Chinese player for $30.
These are the facts of our life. It is possible that Apple is carrying out an experiment (they never do anything for fun, apart from the Apple TV). Nano has strong points – excellent design, polished interface and the player is easy to deal with. Radio with the Live Pause is also an advantage. Like it or not you start thinking about the phone with a similar OS. The screen is bigger, you cannot install your apps, but there is a branded design and similarity with iPhone. The price of the tiny device is much lower though. iPod Nano 6 is a platform for experiments like MacBook Air in its time.
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Published - 20 October 2010
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