The second generation of Apple’s very popular iPod line features expanded memory, a brighter screen and better battery playback. The 8GB model does sit at an unusual price point though, as you can get the full video-capable 30GB iPod for exactly the same price.
Like all the iPods before it, the Nano features the easy to learn scrollwheel interface for selecting playback options and quickly skipping through menu structures. The scrollwheel menu was, and continues to be, the great strength of the iPod brand, as it’s something that can be intuitively grasped by just about anyone in a matter of seconds.
Setup of the Nano differs ever so slightly from that of previous iPod generations, essentially due to the much smaller packaging – highly reminiscent of a watch box – that the Nano ships in. The smaller box gives Apple no space for an installation CD containing iTunes, so if you’re using a Windows PC, you’ve got to download it prior to installing your Nano and transferring music to it. This is a minor annoyance; it does ensure that you’ll always have the latest version of iTunes, but as was shown with the initial release of iTunes 7, having the latest version doesn’t always mean you’ll have a stable application.
Once you’ve installed iTunes, transferring tracks to the Nano is exceptionally simple, although it will still take you some time to transfer over a full 8GB of music.
The new Nano comes in three sizes: 2GB ($219), 4GB ($299) and 8GB ($380). The 2GB model comes in white only, and the 8GB is a black-only affair, but the middle ground model can be procured in white, green, blue or pink. If you’re keen on the 8GB model, it’s also worth considering that the low-end hard drive iPod sells for an identical price but provides 30GB of hard drive space. The hard drive model is, however a touch bigger and somewhat less robust.
The Nano supports photo viewing from its bright 3.8 cm (diagonal) screen, but lacks any facility for video playback. It also comes with some simple contact management, stopwatch and game applications, all of which work acceptably with just a scrollwheel and button.
The Nano performed well in our listening tests, although we had to keep remembering that the headphone socket is, for some reason, on the base of the player rather than the top. That quirk aside, once we’d set up our test Nano, we left it to run… and run… and run. And run it did, for around 20 hours solid in our performance testing. That’s a touch lower than the stated 24-hour runtime, but certainly more than enough for even the most hardened music fanatic ? and critically, enough for a lengthy plane trip.
In its second iteration, the Nano continues to be an impressive personal music player.