Customer Review

1,844 of 1,990 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LOOK! Up in the SKY! It's a BIRD! It's a PLANE! No, it's... SUPER SHUFFLE!, September 8, 2010
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This review is from: Apple iPod nano 8 GB Graphite (6th Generation) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
But it's not a Nano. Once you get that, the rest is easy. It's also a bit of a mixed bag.

**Update** (09/12) All-new 7th Generation Nano with much larger 2.5" screen, Bluetooth, and video playback announced by Apple. =]

Clip is gone though, and @$149, it ain't cheap. =\ **

**Update** (10/11) Version 1.2 Software Update released that

- includes option for Large icons (but not large fonts)
- allows Fitness/Nike+ app to work without an add-on device
- includes more Clock faces & Wallpapers

Price also drops $20 (8 GB), or $30 (16GB). **

**Update** (02/11) Version 1.1 Software Update released that

1) Finally allows users to turn the Nano COMPLETELY OFF by holding down the Wake/Sleep button. No more 'it only goes to sleep'.

2) Sets the Wake/Sleep button as a 'Next Song' button, double-click to advance through your songs or radio presets.

This change also improves battery life- from AWFUL, to merely poor (5-6 hrs) - as you're now less dependent on the power-gobbling touchscreen to advance songs.

Due to these improvements, am upping my review rating to 3 stars (battery life & pricing remain issues).

End Updates. **

Many ppl are confused about the radical re-invention of the Nano, not realizing that the Nano is, essentially, dead. The Nano's mission was to be a compact player that still did some higher-end stuff such as video and picture-taking-- a nice portable 'media' player. No more.

The new Nano, aka Super Shuffle, is focused on a different task entirely, and much the same one as the regular Shuffle- the gym. To that end, Apple radically reduced the size and gave it an integrated clip on back a la the regular Shuffle. It is now 'wearable', and is the 'Shuffle with a screen' that some have wanted for a long time.

The downside is that others loved the 'true' Nano, and now they can't have one unless they go running for the old 5th gen models before they're gone. Some will wonder why this was an 'either/or' thing for Apple, i.e. couldn't the Super Shuffle and 'true Nano' have existed side-by-side?

Still others might say the Super Shuffle is inadequate even for the gym. "I don't want to look at a SCREEN to switch songs or change the volume!", they'll say.

But to be fair, you don't have to look at the screen much, because

- The Super Shuffle has physical volume buttons. They're small, but still easy to use. And with the 1.1 SW Update, you can double-click the Wake/Sleep button to advance songs/stations, a MUCH-needed improvement.
- It has the 'Shake To Shuffle' feature- literally shake it to advance songs. However, STS is clunky to use- see notes @end of review.
- It supports VoiceOver. But to use all VO features requires the Apple Earphones With Remote & Mic, which aren't included (Apple either wants another $30, or still hasn't solved the sweat/moisture issues those 'phones have had in the past).

So, some caveats aside, the Nano/SS now works fine in its role as a 'gym' Shuffle with a screen.

Features-wise, it does photo-viewing (but not taking), audiobooks, podcasts (minus any video), voice memos (w/the optional 'phones w/Remote & Mic), is a pedometer, and does FM radio besides. And stations do sound amazingly clear in any halfway decent reception area. Even low-power college stations usually come in clean- a BIG plus, since they often have more innovative music programming than commercial FM.

The Nano also keeps the 30-pin dock connector, so you retain access to the universe of iPod accessories (for some examples, see 'iPod Nano 6G Docking Options' on YouTube). This is all well and good.

So MY BEEF with the Super Shuffle (aside from battery life) isn't that it killed the 'true' Nano (enough demand = they'll bring it back), but rather the level of 'milking it' Apple's gone with here. While I own/use one, it just isn't worth the additional $$$ over a regular Shuffle.

They do much the same thing, after all- the features it adds to the Shuffle are fairly minor (for example, ever try to get consistent FM reception inside a large concrete building, aka your typical gym? Best be at the window).

Sure, you get the touchscreen, which is sharp/clear, fun to use, and almost eerily resistant to smudges/fingerprints (nice). But the screen's also REALLY small - going larger would make it less 'wearable' - which compromises text readability and ease-of-use ('fat fingers' syndrome). And it scarfs WAY too much battery (see notes @end of review).

You do get 6GB more storage than the Shuffle (though that cost Apple $8 to put in there). But a 'gym' Shuffle doesn't really need to hold 2,000 songs (4000 if you opt for the 16GB), nor does the tiny screen lend itself well to navving through all that. The capacity and price points are Nano legacies, but as we know, this ain't a Nano.

All in all, the advantages don't add up to the price charged/value provided. You can buy 2-3 Shuffles for the same money.

A 4GB model for $99 would've made sense, as that's about what a 'Super Shuffle' is really worth. Sure, a Shuffle with a screen is COOL- just not cool enough to justify the $140 (as I found out).

I do want to dig ya Super Shuffle, but the pricing/value-for-money is your Kryptonite. =[

Also, as mentioned, battery life is poor (see below) and there's some minor bugs/interface issues (also see below). Oh, and durability? So-so. I finally dropped it after 22 months, from less than 3 feet, onto asphalt. Result: Marfed-up screen corner, and a hairline crack running the length of the screen on the left side. Disappointing, but at least it didn't die.

To be fair, with the 1.1 SW Update finally making song-advancement easy, and the price drop, Apple HAS been improving matters. But some things won't change 'til the hardware does- namely, it desperately needs more battery. With that and a $99 price point, the Super Shuffle would be an out-of-the-ballpark home run.

But Apple wanted it supermodel-thin, and the profit margins fat. The result is something pretty, expensive, and high-maintenance.
_________________

Note #1 (Colors): The casing colors are more muted than they appear in pics. Example: the blue Nano is a very pale, smoky blue in person. The exception is the Product Red model (only in Apple Stores), it's a VERY vivid red in real life. But the other, more subtle colors aren't bad, and do look 'more grown up'.

Note #2 (Battery Life): This is VERY dependent on how much you use the touchscreen. Playing around with it lots- which is exactly what you'll do when you first get one- just KILLS the batt juice. No way around it: the T-screen, while fun, is a HUGE. BATTERY. HOG.

And the screen sleep behavior makes it worse, by keeping the screen lit way too long after a touch. This isn't changeable in Settings either.

Thus I HIGHLY RECOMMEND putting the screen to sleep MANUALLY via the Wake/Sleep button EVERY time you're done touchscreening- don't let the screen turn itself off, it's VERY SLOW to do so. Your battery will thank you.

Oh, and Apple's claimed 'UP TO 24 hours of battery life' seems to assume no screen usage. NOT realistic, since you do have to use the screen at times. Be especially careful with the touchscreen radio tuner- taking too much time looking for that 'perfect' station = pure battery kryptonite. (Tip: Set up your radio presets, and turn off Live Pause too- some report battery issues w/it).

Even being careful, you'll avg only 5-6 hrs of battery life, real-world. Be aware the Battery Life icon is VERY schizo- 1st use after a charge can read as taking NO battery, while a similar later use can read as taking HALF the battery. You'll be recharging lots regardless. Reducing Screen Brightness may help a bit.

Note #3 (Bugs, Interface issues): aka 'Things I hope Apple fixes in future Software Updates'.

- Some touchscreen controls need to be upsized. My hands are medium, yet I still hit the wrong controls often with my now suddenly 'fat' fingers.

- In low-but-usable radio signal areas, you'll often get erroneous 'No Radio Signal- Please plug in headphones' messages. I get 'em WITH my 'phones plugged in, on stations that are coming in a bit quietly but otherwise fine.

- When using the Wake/Sleep button to song advance, volume will at times jump to MUCH louder for a moment (may be a weird interaction with Volume Limit, which I use).

- If you set text to 'White on Black' in Accessibility (which improves contrast/readability/looks cool), all icons & wallpapers get turned into weird photo negatives of themselves. Whaa? This should affect text & solid-color backgrounds only, not images.

- The Battery Life Icon and Time should be visible on ALL screens (such as 'Now Playing'). Navving back to the Home Screen just to see these is annoying.

- 'Shake To Shuffle' needs help. Technique-wise it's too iffy, and since STS only works with the screen ON (Apple fears accidental triggerings), it's inconvenient to use, as you have to hit the button, THEN shake.

- Kudos to Apple on the 1.1 & 1.2 SW Updates. But they still need a 1.3, with a focus on power-saving.

Note #4 (Protect Your Hearing): Volume Limit in Settings is your friend. Best procedure: Set your max volume w/it while in a QUIET room. At the gym, loud equipment can easily make you 'crank it up' to the point of causing permanent hearing damage, given enough exposure time.

Volume Limit is a hearing saver. Use it.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 86 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 9, 2010 11:13:35 AM PDT
J. Noble says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 9, 2010 11:24:54 AM PDT
A. Laub says:
I mentioned this in my review, but I'll say it here as well - while it's true the price has remained the same while the camera and video playback were removed, they've also added some functionality in the form of the clip and the integrated Nike+ receiver that renders some accessories as no longer necessary. So yes, you are paying the same upfront, but saving some money down the line if using it as intended (working out).

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 12:16:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2010 6:45:08 PM PDT
@J.Noble- Wow... if that's what you got out of it, you sure weren't reading the same review I wrote.

I won't argue with you over it though, as I get the feeling that you're one of those angry fanbois who won't settle for less than a five-star review no matter what.

If you're upset by my review, well, you're always free to write your own... and I invite you to do so.

Posted on Sep 10, 2010 12:39:25 PM PDT
Very helpful review, thanks. I may have purchased it if they at least had hard next/previous buttons cause the only reason I would want one is for the gym/driving and not wanting to search for the next button/I don't want to have to un-clip it and shake for next song while @ gym. This is another episode of the 3G Shuffle...they will learn, hopefully!!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2010 11:42:27 PM PDT
J 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 12:57:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2010 1:13:55 AM PDT
How do you know he hasn't used it or owns it? Don't know about your area but my local Apple Store had the new Nanos in on Wednesday, same day as this review went up. How would he know how the colors look in person or how the screen or radio is unless he'd used one? He talks about that stuff in the review.

Also he didn't say the 5th generation Nano was sold out. He said "unless they go running for the old 5th generation models BEFORE they're sold out".

Reading comprehension fail.

Posted on Sep 12, 2010 1:53:09 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 27, 2010 12:41:58 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2010 11:29:18 AM PDT
T. Gonzalez says:
Anyone looking for something like the old iPod Nano (4th and 5th gen) might consider the Zune HD. I know those are usually compared to the Touch, but if you're in the market for a Nano, you don't care about the apps or browser. Off the top of my head, there isn't really anything the Nano does that the Zune can't, except record video (in the case of the 5th gen model).

I test drove both a Zune HD and 3rd gen Touch for a couple weeks trying to decide which one to keep. I thought the Zune was a much better media player, and loved the form factor. It was very well built and surprisingly light. I enjoyed the feel of it much more than my brother's 5th gen Nano. I never did try bringing it into the gym or anything like that though; I wasn't sure I was going to keep it, so I was careful not to abuse it.

Ultimately I wound up returning both devices, as they were both way more than I needed in a music device. But I think those looking for an alternative to the older Nanos ought to at least consider the Zune HD. Or try and get away with something like a Sansa Fuze (what I have now - they can be found cheap refurbished).

Posted on Sep 13, 2010 12:16:37 AM PDT
You gym people seem to think that it is all about the d@mn gym. Granted, the shuffle is ideal for that environment, but -- believe it or not -- people enjoy them in many environments, including exercise that takes place under a clear blue sky where FM signals are not impeded by concrete.

I am almost never without one of my Shuffles (which I greatly prefer to my Gen 5 Nano). I have them loaded up with audio books and language courses, as well as music. Rather than being annoyed by the queues or reception rooms or life's other little "waits," I almost look forward to such times; no time is wasted. I also wear one much of the time when I am at home, because I can move about from room to room and chore to chore, inside and out, while continuously listening to whatever I choose. (One of my favorite times is when the mowers and leaf-blowers assault the grounds around my townhome.)

As sleek and cool as other recent Nanos have been, the additional size and weight and, especially, the lack of a clip made them much less friendly as constant companions during a variety of activities. I am so overstocked already with iPods that I may not pounce immediately on this one although for my use it appears to be the best package yet.

Gyms, smelly sneakers, and sweating to the oldies....piffle!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2010 12:26:30 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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