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If you took the last generation iPod nano and sliced it cleanly in half with a laser, you’d wind up with one new iPod nano and one new iPod shuffle… or at least something that resembles them. The new Apple iPod nano is a screen with no click wheel—and the new iPod shuffle has buttons.
The new iPod nano is a slick gadget. It’s about half the size of the last-generation nano and it has lost its click wheel. A 1.5-inch multi-touch screen with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels replaces the click wheel functionality. If you thought the last nano was small, you’ll be amazed at how small the new one is. The new nano is 46% smaller and 42% lighter than its 5th generation predecessor. The new one measures 1.61 inches wide by 1.48 high by 0.35 inches thick and it weighs a scant 0.74 ounces. The nano is now roughly the same size as the shuffle, and you get up to 24 hours of nonstop music playback on a single charge.
A clip on the new nano makes it wearable and a screen-rotation function lets you clip it in on and still be able to set the screen to be easily readable, regardless of its orientation. Like the last generation nano, the new one features an FM radio and you can pause FM broadcasts for up to 15 minutes. Other familiar nano features include Genius Playlists and Mixes, Nike + iPod Sport Kit compatibility and Shake to Shuffle.
The new iPod nano does not run the iOS of the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. It’s loaded with the traditional iPod OS, enhanced with touch support. All of the familiar iPod controls are now onscreen with the exception of hard volume controls that let you adjust volume without touching the screen.
Unlike the old click wheel, the multi-touch screen would be difficult, if not impossible to use with the iPod in your pocket. Fortunately, a VoiceOver function announces the playlist, song and artist, and you can control the iPod using the optional earphones with integrated remote and microphone—without touching the screen .
So what’s missing from the new iPod nano? Well, for one thing, there’s no camera, and two, it won’t play video; the screen is too small for it anyway. If you want a camera or video playback you’ll have to step up to the 4th-Generation iPod touch, which has also been updated.
Along with updates to the iPods themselves, Apple has upgraded iTunes to version 10. iTunes 10 has a more streamlined appearance and a new feature called Ping. It’s essentially a social network for music lovers. You can see what your friends like, they can see what you like and your favorite artists can tell you what they’re up to.
The iPod nano is available in 8GB and 16GB versions with prices of $149 and $179, respectively. They all feature anodized aluminum housings in six different colors including graphite, blue, silver, green, orange and pink.