Earlier today, I made a trip to the Apple Store to see what the new iPod line (announced last week) looks like in person. My thoughts are below:
As I noted earlier, the Nano’s undergone the most radical change, and is now a player slightly bigger than the Shuffle but with a touchscreen. After seeing the new Nano in person, I’ll say that it really does look more like the Shuffle. Unfortunately, the new compact size comes at the expense of the Nano losing some of its previous features—no video, no camera, no games, and despite the touchscreen interface, it lacks almost all of iOS’ signature features (particularly, no apps). The new Nano plays music, has the old Nano’s music features (Genius, etc.), and has the previous model’s pedometer and FM radio, but that’s about it. And given the new small size, using the touchscreen wasn’t as easy or as intuitive as the ones on the iPod Touch or iPhone, in my opinion.
Since the price isn’t any lower than the old Nanos, yet lacks many of the features that made the previous few Nano generations appealing in the first place, I’d have to recommend giving this model a pass. One would be much better off either sticking with the $50 (US) Shuffle (and avoiding paying an extra $100-$120 for what amounts to a “Shuffle with a screen”) or spending the extra money for the entry-level $230 (US) iPod Touch. I’d suspect that even Apple would prefer people did the latter, due to their highly lucrative App Store.
That said, the new Nano (and its clock feature) would make for an interesting wristwatch with some type of strap…
The Shuffle’s thankfully reverted back to its previous form factor from a few years ago, with all the buttons on the player itself, versus the previous model’s reliance on specialized headphones with player controls. A big improvement, and at $50, the Shuffle is a lot cheaper (despite only 2GB of space) than the new Nano.
The Touch also got a bit of a makeover, though a less radical one than the Nano or Shuffle. Not only did it gain more of the iPhone 4’s features (most notably, a front and rear facing pair of cameras, albeit lower-quality ones than the iPhone’s), but the Touch is thinner. Of course, it kept all the features of the previous Touch models—WiFi for Internet access, access to the App Store, etc. Out of the newly-revised iPods, this is the model I’d buy if I were in the market for an iPod (though thanks to my Palm Pre smartphone, I’m not).
Overall, this year’s models were a mixed lot—the Touch and Shuffle look good, the Nano is a misfire, and the Classic continues to merely exist unchanged and apparently ignored. Given the rise in popularity of smartphones (with Apple’s own iPhone leading the way), the new iPods won’t set the world on fire the way new iPod announcements did five years ago, but they’ll still have a strong presence in the marketplace for the foreseeable future.