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Wins and Losses

October 1, 2010 - Dave Hecei
There is definitely a buzz with the new Apple iPods. Just a few weeks ago, Apple updated most of their iPod models - all but the Classic. This was no minor update, but a complete redo of the Shuffle, Nano, and Touch. While these newer versions have won some nice features, there are also some losses.

In the win column for the Shuffle we have a big check mark for buttons. In the lose column - I have nothing, but remember that there is no display on the Shuffle. I own both the first and second generation shuffle and they are great for loading up songs to play while working or driving.

The new Shuffle (4th generation) now looks much like the 2nd generation model. Instead of a rectangular shape it is slightly smaller thanks to being square. The new shuffle now has buttons on the device plus the best part from the previous model - voice over. Since there is no display on any of the Shuffle models there needs to be some way of navigating through songs. Using voice over the Shuffle will speak to you with a very legible voice what track you are on and such. With the addition of voice over you can now have playlists on a Shuffle.

The Shuffle is small, cute, and at $49 it is the least expensive iPod. It is ideal for on the run music, and with voice over you can even deal with audio books, something that was difficult to do without a display. It has 2GB of storage, which allows for 200-600 songs, depending on the format (i.e. compression).

In the win column for the Nano are two checks - size and touch screen. In the loss column there are a few important ones. There is no camera. The previous Nano could shoot standard def video. It also cannot play video files. The last few Nanos had the ability to playback specially formatted Quicktime files, either those you made yourself or ones purchased or rented from the iTunes Store. It's too bad that Apple put this amazing touch screen here and not allow it to play video files.

The size of the new Nano is pretty amazing. The packaging for it is about the same size as the one for the Shuffle, which tells you right away it's pretty small. It has a similar clip built into it like the new Shuffle. This allows you to attach it to your pocket, shirt, the strap of a bag, etc. The touch screen is what the new Nano is all about. While it is not an iOS device like the iTouch, meaning you are not going to be adding iPhone Apps to it, it does have that same touch style interface as the iPhone/Touch.

The new Nano comes with either 8GB or 16GB of storage for $149 or $179. For only $30 more to double the amount of storage I don't know why anyone would by the 8GB model.

The new Touch is the big winner here. It now has the same Retina high resolution color display introduced on the new iPhone 4. The Touch also has a front and rear camera like the new iPhone. The front camera is used for Apple's new Face Time, a video chat system. The rear camera is used for stills and HD (720p) video. Inside the Touch is a much faster processor, the new Apple A4 chip, plus a faster graphic chip.

In the loss column is that the still camera is a big disappointment. Unlike the highly praised 5 megapixel camera in the iPhone 4, Apple decided to go cheap and use a much lower resolution sensor in the Touch. It works out to be less than 1 megapixel (960 x 720 pixels). Very poor choice Apple, for a 2010 device. Expect to use this only as a video camera most of the time - meaning you will still want to bring a digital camera with you.

The Touch is still the top-dog in the iPod family. With the Retina display and A4 processor you can really think of it as a mini iPad. The Touch is available with either 8GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage priced at $229, $299, and $399.


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