Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Sep 13, 2012 01:29 PM EDT

apple

Apple is seriously interested in integrating mobile payment systems and biometrics into its new devices, as we saw in July when it purchased fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec for $356 million. (Photo : Reuters)

After all the speculation and rumor, Apple officially announced its new iPhone 5 at a media event in San Francisco Wednesday Sept. 12. And while all the attention was understandably focused on the iPhone 5, Apple still clearly had a few cards up its sleeve when it introduced its seventh generation line of iPods. New versions of its Nano, Shuffle, and Touch are available for pre-order now. But, are they worth your time, or money? Read along below to see if the new iPods are really an upgrade at all. 

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(Photo: Reuters. Members of the media experience the iPod Nano after its introduction during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco)

(Photo: Reuters. Members of the media experience the iPod Nano after its introduction during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco)

iPod Nano

iPod Nanos will get a larger display, thinner, lighter and "Lightning" connectors. "It's that perfect size and shape." It's almost 38 percent thinner, Greg Joswiak says.

Design

Featuring a 5.4mm thick frame, the new Nano is 38 percent thinner than past models and boasts a 2.5 multi-touch enlarged display panel. The device also has built-in capability for Nike+ and Bluetooth applications.

The Nano is unique amongst Apple's portable products in that its design has changed dramatically from iteration to iteration. This time Apple has gone for a colorful, slim and petite look. Apple claims that the Nano is the thinnest iPod it has ever made. At just 5.4mm thin it's only just more than half the thickness of the iPhone 4S. That's thin. It's also pretty small for a device with a 2.5in touchscreen, at about the size of a credit card. The full dimensions are: 76.5×39.6×5.4mm, and it weighs just 31g.

You can choose between seven different colors - eight if you include the Project Red charity model available only through Apple stores. Several tech sites have mentioned the new Nano's similarity in looks to the Sony YP-P2 from back in 2007, to Nokia's Lumia, and we can't say we disagree.

On the right-hand side are volume up and volume down buttons. On the top is an on/off switch. The 3.5mm jack can be found on the bottom of the iPod Nano, as well as the new Lightning connector - different to existing iOS device connectors.

Beneath the screen on the bezel is a recessed Home button. Like the new iPhone, as well as various Apple notebooks, the iPod Nano is made of anodized aluminum. This makes it feel metallic and textured, but also explains why it is so light.

Display

The iPod Nano has a 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display that is, according to Apple, almost twice as big as the screen on the previous iPod Nano. It is a 240x432-pixel resolution display with detail at 202 pixels per inch. An Accelerometer is built in so the screen rotates as you rotate the device.

Audio/video

The iPod Nano is a portable media player. You can use it to play music, movies and TV programmes, podcasts and audiobooks. It is both a photo viewer and FM radio. The iPod Nano also has Bluetooth 4.0 built in.

As an audio player the Nano's frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. It supports the following audio formats: 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. You can also set a maximum volume limit to save your lugs.

The iPod Nano will play H.264 video at a resolution of 720x576 pixels, and 30 frames per second framerate; Baseline, Main and High-Profile level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 256 Kbps; 48kHz; stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video: up to 2.5 Mbps, 720x576 pixels, 30 frames per second; Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 256 Kbps; 48kHz; stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats.

Price/capacity
You can purchase a 16GB Nano for $150. 

Battery life

The Nano has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Apple has published claimed battery life times up to 30 hours of music playback, and up to 3.5 hours of video playback. The Nano charges via the supplied USB cable, and Apple says it will take an hour and a half to charge it up to 80 percent, and three hours to fully charge.

Extras
Apple offers free iPod engraving on the back through its online store. Included with the iPod Nano are a pair of Apple's new EarPods in-ear headphones, which  the company claims are superior to other bundled headphones,  and a Lightning to USB Cable. The 9-pin Lightning connector cable is much smaller than the old 30-pin iPhone and iPod connector, so it reduces the size of the Nano. But you will have to get an adaptor in order to use the Nano with any existing speaker docks.

(Photo: Apple. Aside from new color options, we're hard pressed to identify much that's different about the seventh generation iPod Shuffle.)
(Photo: Apple. Aside from new color options, we're hard pressed to identify much that's different about the seventh generation iPod Shuffle.)

iPod Shuffle
Not much of a change here to report. But, we do see a much needed change in the colors. The smallest in the Apple family, the Shuffle maintains many of its original features with colorful new schemes as an added bonus.

(Photo: Reuters.  The refreshed iPod Touch with new earpods is introduced during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco.)

(Photo: Reuters. The refreshed iPod Touch with new earpods is introduced during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco.)

iPod Touch

Design

The thinnest, lightest Touch they've ever created. Comes in seven different colors.

For the first time, iPod touch is made from the same kind of anodized aluminum used in the MacBook line. And it's made the same way too: By machining the enclosure from a single piece of aluminum, has the same highly polished beveled edges. The Touch is made from one of the strongest grades of aluminum there is. Apple says the Touch's colors are so incredibly rich and vibrant because they're bonded right to the aluminum. The new design for Touch will also include a "Loop" to aid in not dropping the device in your toilet so much. The iPod touch loop comes color-matched to your iPod touch, or you can buy other colors separately.

Display

The touch screen allows people to pinch and zoom photos. Same 4-inch retina display as the iPhone is in the new iPod touch. Retina display got taller but not wider,  which Apple claims allows you to do everything  on iPod touch one-handed, and gives your thumb more room. The display is also more advanced, with finger-friendly Multi-Touch technology built into the glass instead of beneath it.

Price/capacity
32GB for $299, 64GB $399

Battery

More battery life. "Longest battery life we've ever had" with up to 30 hours of battery life. Touch packs up to 40 hours of music playback, or eight hours of video.

Audio/visual

The Touch has an A5 chip, and a dual core processor that doubles the performance of tis greater low frequency sound.  Touch also has an FM tunner.

The camera is getting a significant upgrade with a 5-megapixel iSight camera that gives auto focus and flash. The Touch has the same f/2.4 aperture as iPhone 5. You can download iPhoto and iMovie to edit on the device. Has advanced optics, tap to focus, an LED flash, and face detection. The iSight camera shoots 1080p HD video, and the front camera gets a boost for better FaceTime calls.

Extras

iPhone's Siri has been added Touch. AirPlay mirroring is brought to the iPod touch for the first time, allowing gaming and movie connectivity.  AirPlay lets you wirelessly stream whatever's on your iPod touch to your HDTV via Apple TV. You can also stream music to any AirPlay-enabled speakers or AirPort Express-connected speakers. Bluetooth is built into iPod touch, so Touch pairs easily with Bluetooth-enabled headphones and speakers. And if your car has a Bluetooth-enabled sound system, you can play your tunes to it right from iPod Touch. Works on the new Lightning dock connector that Apple calls smaller and smarter.

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