A quick glimpse at Apple’s latest sales numbers suggests that sales of iPods are actually waning for the first time in a while, given that so many of us own one of Apple’s omnipresent digital media devices. In spite of this, staggering numbers are still sold on a daily basis, often to people who already have at least one tucked away.
The skill that Apple employs however, and which many of its rivals fail to imitate, is that it constantly manages to reinvent its line, with subsequent generations of iPod seemingly arriving with features you simply can’t do without.
The current state of the iPod Nano line is a case in point. We’ve been playing with a 16GB device, which now comes with a camera built in. It’s a perfectly decent camera, too, that’s capable of recording video, although inevitably its not suited for much more than a few quick snippets of footage. As much as Apple likes to crow about it, we can’t imagine using it often even in the medium term.
The Nano also comes with a built-in FM radio, a 2.2-inch colour display, and 16GB of storage. You can save a bit of cash by opting for the cheaper 8GB iteration if you want, but there’s only around £20 between them. Each is available in a variety of different colours.
Each, too, comes packaged in a minimalist box, in line with Apple’s style, with a pair of earphones and a data cable packaged in. Removing the Nano from said packaging, the first thing that struck us wasn’t just how small it is, but how light. It’s thin and carries little weight, although this did lead us to suspect that many of them could easily get lost.
In operation the unit is also silent, and as usual, you need to connect it to Apple’s free-to-download iTunes software to fill it with music. iTunes is a perfectly fine application, albeit one firmly under Apple’s control, and it handles the transferring and converting of music where necessary with ease. Apple does its utmost to get you to sign up for its iTunes Store too, although we resisted its advances. The software didn’t make it particularly clear that it wasn’t compulsory, mind, which we weren’t altogether comfortable with.
The iPod’s interface has been gently evolved over time, and it’s a very easy product to get to grips with. A touch wheel on the front of the unit under the screen does the work for you, and the simplistic menu system is easily manageable. Furthermore, there’s functionality here to shuffle and create mixes of music as you desire.
The 16GB of storage is ample for around 4,000 songs in 128Kbps format, claims Apple, although we tend to go for 192Kbps at the very least. There’s still room for plenty of music, though, or you could choose to employ the device as a photo viewer should you so choose. The screen, while small, is perfectly clear enough to tackle such a job. That said, we wouldn’t enjoy looking at too much video content on it, and don’t intend to once this review is submitted.
You pay a premium for an Apple product, and will continue to do so. But you can’t knock the fact that the company very much knows what it’s doing. And given that the iPod Nano is the firm’s bestseller right now in its iPod line, it does seem to be on the right lines with it. It’s not, in terms of storage space to the pound, the best value music playback device by a long way. But it’s an excellent, well packaged product, and deserving of its success.