The September 12 iPods
Wow, if there was one thing I was not expecting, it was a systematic revamp of each one of the iPods. OK, so the iPod with video didn't really get a revamp but still Apple seems to be under the impression that it's a new model. Did they call it the sixth generation?
The nano has been Apple's most successful iPod and the mini before it. It's just the perfect size with just enough storage. Unfortunately, Apple dropped the multi-colours when it introduced the nano and now they're back. Arguably, it's going to remain Apple's best selling iPod. In fact, now that the colours are back, it's going to sell even more in my opinion. The colours were a great attraction of the mini and my sister was actually disappointed last year when Apple phased out the mini and introduced the nano. Today, when I showed her the new nanos, she was excited. She wanted the pink one (well, that's a big surprise). Just like the iPod with video, which is so boring that I'm not even going to discuss it here, the nano range gains all the new software features along with its new colours.
The gap-less playback is good but since I'm not an album man, I've never felt the need for it anyway. The new search feature looks like it's going to be a headache to use on a regular basis because, I have to say, the click wheels on the 4G and 5G iPods are just not as accurate in real-world usage as the scroll wheel on my 2G iPod and are definitely going to be a pain to type with. Even Apple's official demo on the iPod site aptly demonstrates the difficulty in searching. However, I would rather have this feature on the iPod than not. It doesn't hurt when you have 20,000 songs and need to search for one. The iPhoto-like feature of displaying the letter you're currently scrolling over is an awesome feature and is a really good nicety they've added. The fact that this paragraph contains "all there is to it" speaks a ton about how not-hard Apple has been working on the iPod and iPod nano this year. The software on these new iPods really doesn't show all that much innovation. I can bet you $10 that the support for long audiobooks is still broken and that the iPods still don't support full Unicode text in languages like Hindi and Punjabi. Give me those two things and I'll buy the new nano.
An odd thing about these nanos is how the colour scheme works. At the bottom end, on the 2GB model, the only colour you can get is aluminium. That's fine by me. In the middle-of-the-range, you can get all colours except black. That's also fine by me. Black's a premium model. But, in the highest-end model, why is the colour choice limited to just black? It seems as if you can't have the colour of your choice even if you're ready to pay the big $ for an iPod nano. That's not good in my opinion. Also, since the black nano has been out for a year, I don't see it as a great… erm… attraction at the top-of-the-range. A lot of people have black nanos (including me), and it's common. The top-of-the-range needs to have the choice of any colour.
Anyway, there's no doubt about the fact that the nano's going to sell like hot cakes.
The iPod shuffle is the real exciting iPod Apple released today. It's tiny and desirable. And I love the fact that it comes with a dock. The 1GB capacity is fine for a lot of purposes. The built-in clip is so handy that I want one right now! This is the perfect gym companion iPod and totally tops the first generation shuffle. Unlike the nano and the iPod, the shuffle can clearly be called a next generation iPod and is not a half-baked version of its earlier incarnation. I think that the shuffle definitely has the potential to share honours with the nano because it's extremely small, extremely attractive and, at $79, extremely affordable. This is the only new iPod that I'm seriously considering buying right now. Apple seems to have done away with the 512MB shuffle but I don't think many people will miss it. Expect this little gadget to be well pre-ordered.