A Closer Look at iPod Nano 6th Generation

By Turjo, Gaea News Network
Monday, November 8, 2010

When it comes to the brand “iPod“, people don’t seem to need to many reasons to buy it. And following the same trend, the iPod nano has been Apple’s most popular iPod and also not without reason. If we have to go through all the different generations of the iPod nano we’ll notice they all look similar, except for the third generation model, which looked more like a smaller iPod classic. So this year, when redesigning the nano the main goal for Apple was to make it smaller and the only way they could do that was to get rid of the click wheel. Removing the click wheel meant complete loss of control over the player, so the display had to be a touchscreen. Which is exactly what the new nano has.


Design :

In terms of design, the new nano is brilliant. The difference is even more staggering when you keep the current and the previous nano side by side. The new nano is only slightly larger than the current generation iPod shuffle. But, when you consider the facts that the nano iPod has a touchscreen, an accelerometer and a bigger battery, you have be amazed by the brilliance of the Apple’s designer team.

There is a 1.54-inch display that has a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels in front. The display is extremely sharp, thanks to the fairly high pixel density. But you can be disappointed by the image quality. The contrast is very low and blacks look grey. Even the colors look a bit pale. If you increase the brightness the display looks a bit washed out. The thing is, if the problem would have occured with any other competitor’s device, we might have neglected it or even praised it as excellent. But Apple has spoilt us by providing fabulous displays on each and everyone of their devices. So, hey! It’s Apple’s fault only that nano’s display sticks out as a sore thumb.

The display is also a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen and in that aspect it works very well. The touchscreen sensitivity is excellent and even a light touch suffices to register an input on the display. The display also feels a bit claustrophobic at times. The menu items have been made large so that they could easily be operated by touch, but that also means less items can be displayed on the screen at once. It gives the feeling as if you are looking at an iPhone’s display through a small window.

The nano boasts just three hardware buttons — one larger button on the top right for power / sleep, and two smaller, circular ones on the top left for volume controls, another change we appreciate. In the previous nano, in order to adjust the volume you had to unlock the device then navigate with the wheel. Now with actual hardware buttons, you can turn the volume up or down without ever actually looking at the player. It’s a minor but welcome improvement.

Interface and Software :

The iPod nano’s strongest suit has always been its simplicity of purpose, and that’s never been more evident than in this newest device. If there was ever confusion for buyers about whether to get a nano or something more full-featured, such as the touch — that argument is dead. Apple’s ditched the video camera and the ability to play back video here, along with lots of other “extra” stuff (contacts, calendars, notes, games). With the new nano, you can listen to audio and look at photos — and that’s it.

The UI of the new nano looks a lot like the iOS, with the same icons and menu design. Having said that, it isn’t iOS, so forget about installing applications on the nano. The homescreen has fourteen icons spread over four screens, with each screen having up to four icons. You need to swipe on the screens to move from one screen to another. You press and hold anywhere on the screen to go to the main homescreen. There is no back button, so when you click on something and have to go back, you need to swipe right on the screen. On the homescreen, you can arrange the icons just like the way you do in iOS - by pressing and holding on the icon.

Now moving on to Music player, you will find that there are seven categories to choose from, which includes artists, albums, genres, composers, all songs, playlists and Genius Mixes. In the album view you see the album art besides the album name and artist. On the right you see a column of dots. Sliding your finger on them lets you jump alphabetically through the list of music. To jump to the top of a list, just tap the top bar, as you would in iOS.

Audio quality is pretty good on the new nano but the supplied earphones are again the same white stuff that come with all the iPods. The biggest drawback in iPod series. We could excuse them on the shuffle but not on the nano. At the price at which Apple is selling this player they should have thrown in their in-ear model instead. Almost every other brand has better quality earphones bundled with their players in this price range. We must say,if audio quality is your preference in a music player there are several better alternatives out there from brands like Cowon, Creative and Sony.

The nano retains the FM radio with the Live Pause feature of the previous generation model. Live Pause lets you pause the radio station when you are listening to it and then get back to listening from the point where you stopped. It records the broadcast from the point you stopped till you press play. You can jump back to the actual transmission anytime. You do need to remember that the player needs to be in an area of good reception when Live Pause is active or else the transmission that is recorded will be of poor quality.

Next comes the Photo viewer. Images still need to be transferred through iTunes and even after you select the full-resolution option in iTunes, follow the instructions and copy the images directly to the iPod nano’s Photos folder using Windows Explorer, they don’t show up on the nano. When transferring through iTunes, the images automatically get resized for the nano. Despite that the images still look good on that sharp display but the small size of the display is painfully obvious.

Video support has completely been dropped from the new nano. This is a major downgrade from the previous generation model, which not only played videos but recorded them as well. You get an error while trying to copy videos from iTunes on to the nano but video podcasts can be transferred and played on the nano. Except that the video won’t play and will just display a static thumbnail image that iTunes generates, while the audio plays back in the background.

The new nano has a built-in accelerometer that is used in the shake to shuffle but more importantly for the pedometer. You have to set your weight and then enable it and it will track the steps you take. It keeps a log and you can then compare them. You can also set a daily step goal for yourself. The results can then be uploaded to Nike’s website through iTunes.

Battery Life and Price (India) :

Apple claims the same 24-hours that they did for the previous generation nano, which is pretty amazing considering that the new nano is less than half the size of the older one. But practically the nano runs for 22 hours at a stretch before it stops playback. Although it is short from what has been claimed, still, 22 hours from a device that small is nothing short of amazing.

The old iPod nano was priced at Rs. Rs. 9,400 for the 8GB model and Rs. 11, 200 for the 16GB model. The new model costs Rs. 10,700 and Rs. 12,700 for the same capacities respectively.

Conclusion :

From the above discussion we can see that the biggest attraction of the new nano is the design. It is perhaps the best looking portable music player around and kudos to Apple making it so small. But by making it that small it also had to lose a lot in terms of functionality. The touchscreen would have been cool had it been on a bigger display but on the nano it feels a bit cramped.

So people, if you are looking for a simple player for use at the gym are better off with the shuffle. If you want a proper music player that can also playback videos and has other features then you will find plenty of options from other established brands. If you want to some more functionality then go for the iPod touch.

Also the price of the new nano puts it in competition with far more capable players that outclass the nano in almost every aspect except the design. If I’m throwing in so much on a player, only a cute design is not enough to bring a smile to my face. I need more functionality and better performance. Unfortunately, that’s where the new iPod nano disappoints.

Technical Specifications :

Size and weight :

  • Height: 1.48 inches (37.5 mm)
  • Width: 1.61 inches (40.9 mm)
  • Depth: 0.35 inch (8.78 mm) including clip
  • Weight: 0.74 ounce (21.1 grams)1
  • Volume: 0.614 cu inch (10,056 cu mm) including clip

Display :

  • 1.54-inch (diagonal) color TFT display
  • 240-by-240-pixel resolution
  • 220 pixels per inch

Audio playback :

  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • 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
  • User-configurable maximum volume limit

FM radio :

  • Regional settings for Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Japan
  • Live Pause feature for pausing a radio broadcast and rewinding (within a 15-minute buffer)

Headphones :

  • Earphones
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms

Capacity :

  • 8GB or 16GB flash drive2

Sensor :

  • Accelerometer

Battery and power :

  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 24 hours of music playback when fully charged
  • Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter (sold separately)
  • Fast-charge time: about 1.5 hours (charges up to 80% of battery capacity)
  • Full-charge time: about 3 hours
will not be displayed