Customer Review

158 of 191 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good idea, poorly executed., September 7, 2010
This review is from: Apple iPod nano 16 GB Graphite (6th Generation) OLD MODEL (Electronics)
In a way, I understand what Apple are trying to do with the latest nano - get back to basics.

In the last couple of years, they've added features to the nano which weren't really improvements, just additions. The nano's main purpose as a take-anywhere music player was muddied by other features that didn't really fit. The screen was not really big enough to watch TV shows or movies on it. The video camera was simply not hi-res enough to be competitive or useful. As I've said in other reviews, it seemed that these features were added not because they made the nano a better product, but just because Apple could add them.

With the latest nano, Apple has stripped away all those extra features, and gone back to trying to make a best-in-class take-anywhere music player. Great idea. Unfortunately, they failed in two respects - the execution of that idea, and the price.

The two main design changes in this nano are the smaller screen, and the replacement of the click wheel with a touchscreen (with buttons for volume). Both of these changes make the product less successful as an on-the-go music player than previous models.

Having a smaller screen makes it harder to find songs - only a few lines can be displayed at a time. On a purely aesthetic note, having the mix of icons and menus in the user interface is more cumbersome and less clean that the purely menu-based UI of previous models. Not a big deal, but Apple's appeal has traditionally been their sense of aesthetics.

Removing the click wheel is a serious misstep. The click wheel made it easy to adjust the volume, scan back and forth within a track, or move between tracks in a playlist or album *without taking the player out of your pocket*. You didn't have to look at the player; just dip your hand into a pocket, quickly find the click wheel by feel, and make the adjustment. You can't do that with the new nano. While superficially cool, the touch screen makes the new nano harder to use than its predecessors.

Finally, the price. Apple is charging the same price as the previous model nano, for the same amount of storage. In essence, we lose the extraneous features in order to pay for the touch screen. I would accept that trade-off if the touch screen better served the nano's core function as a portable music player. But it does not.

I'm giving the new nano three stars because, despite being a step down from previous models, it's still a pretty good music player.

But in paring down the nano back to its primary function, Apple also made design changes that make it perform that function less well, and then charged us for them. Far from being an improvement, the new nano is a disappointment.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 8, 2010 5:29:42 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 10:40:21 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 9, 2010 4:15:16 PM PDT
SBG Reviews says:
I'm guessing you haven't used the new Nano, because it does have physical volume buttons for adjustment without taking the player out of your pocket

Posted on Sep 10, 2010 11:19:36 PM PDT
Joel Hall says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2010 12:24:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2010 12:25:54 AM PDT
Peter Hunt says:
Thank you, SBG and Joel, for the correction.

I mentioned the volume buttons in the fourth paragraph, but I agree that my subsequent description makes it sound like you can't adjust the volume without looking at the device. That is not correct, and I didn't mean to imply it; in mentioning volume control, I was describing what the click wheel *can* do, and I should have been more specific about what the new nano *can't* do.

Thanks again for your comments.

Posted on Sep 11, 2010 3:46:06 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2010 4:37:10 PM PDT
Peter Hunt says:
I don't want to appear argumentative, but let me reply at length, since I think I probably wasn't clear enough in my original review about my main criticism of the new nano. I don't expect or hope to convince anyone of anything; I just want to state my opinion more clearly.

I agree that if you're sitting on your sofa at home, or standing on the train, or walking down the street, that the new controls for the nano are just fine. If you can stop to find the buttons or use the touch screen to adjust the volume or find the next song, then cool.

But to me, and to other reviewers I've read, the appeal of the nano has always been in its portability. Based on the reduction in size and the new clip on the back of this model, Apple are clearly positioning this product as an "mp3 player when you're on the go". It's the player you use for running, cycling or even if you're just working on the house or the garden.

And this is where I think the loss of the click wheel hurts the product. With the click wheel, you can adjust the volume, seek within a track, or skip to the next or previous tracks, without looking at the device. That's handy when you're running, cycling, driving or concentrating on anything visual.

With the touch screen, having to stop and look at the product while making these adjustments is more cumbersome. It's not the end of the world, but it's simply not as convenient as the click wheel on the previous product. Even when adjusting the volume, the click-wheel is easier to find and use than struggling with two small buttons on the edge of the nano.

This isn't my bias in favour of the click wheel, it's my evaluation of the effectiveness of the new design when using the product in the situations it's been designed for.

Finally, let me just say that I like Apple's products a lot, and I am always excited to see what they come up with. They've done an amazing job in reducing the size of this device, and in putting a touch screen on something so small and still making it usable. The three stars I gave the new nano are three full stars. It's still a pretty good mp3 player.

The trouble I see is that given how Apple are positioning the nano, I don't think a touch screen benefits the device's purpose, no matter how beautifully engineered it is. The click wheel was a better tool for the job.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2010 1:42:30 PM PDT
J. Wilson says:
I totally agree with you Peter and decided not to purchase the Nano after playing with it for a while for the reasons you pointed out. Also, I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks and the FF and RW buttons look like a nightmare because accidentally tapping one will loose your place in the book or podcast. If I had infant sized fingers it may not be a problem but I don't.

Posted on Sep 20, 2010 6:39:05 PM PDT
Mark Huang says:
Aye, I agree with Peter as well. I actually wanted to save up for the 5th Gen because of its video capturing features AND the famed iPod clickwheel, since I like the ergonomics of the latter. Then the 6th Gen came along and crushed my world ;P. I really feel that the touchscreen would be more of service to the iPod Classic than the Nano.. since the hypothetical size of the screen would be a lot larger. Not to mention, the clickwheel gets less practical when scrolling through over 160gb's worth of artists on the Classic.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2010 5:18:33 PM PDT
I'm guessing you didn't thoroughly read the review, which clearly states "and the replacement of the click wheel with a touchscreen (with buttons for volume)".
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