Apple has overhauled its entire iPod line, unveiling new versions of the
iPod nano, and
iPod shuffle. Having a hard time keeping up on all the changes? Here’s a summary of the key changes to all three iPod offerings, including how they compare to their predecessors.
The big news: “We’re going to make the iPod more affordable and accessible,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the iPod’s September 12 unveiling, and he wasn’t kidding. For just $249
, you can have a 30GB iPod capable of storing music, showing photos, and playing videos—the lowest price Apple has ever charged for a full-sized iPod. That’s a $50 discount from the fifth-generation 30GB iPod’s price tag. The top-end iPod’s price has also dropped $50, to $349
, while its capacity has jumped to 80GB from 60GB.
New features: Beyond the price tag, the most significant changes to the iPod include a brighter screen—60 percent brighter, Apple says—and longer battery life, at least on the 80GB model. Apple claims the higher-end iPod offers up to 20 hours of music playback, six hours of slideshows with music, and six-and-a-half hours of video playback. The 30GB iPod continues to feature 14 hours of music playback, though battery life for slideshows and videos has ticked up an hour and an a hour and a half, respectively.
Accessories: Jobs says Apple has spent the last 18 months working on improvements to the iPod earbuds—these new earphones ship with the overhauled iPod. Other accessories include a USB cable, dock adapter, and sleeve case.
What’s the same: The dimensions of the iPod remain the same, with the larger-capacity iPod still just a little bit thicker than the 30GB offering. The display may be brighter, but it remains the same size—2.5 inches. The iPod’s interface is unchanged, and you continue to sync and charge via Apple’s USB dock-connector cable. Both configurations are available in either white or black cases.
What we think: We’re currently in the midst of evaluating both the 30GB and 80GB iPods and testing Apple’s battery-life claims. We’ll update this story with a link to the review once it’s posted later this week.
Capacity changes: The original nano came in
model was added earlier this year. Now, the smallest nano you can get is a 2GB version. The second-generation version also comes in 4GB and 8GB sizes.
Pricing: The range of iPod nano prices remain unchanged: $149 for the 2GB model, $199 for 4GB, and $249 for the 8GB offering. But since capacities have grown, as noted above, you’re actually getting twice as much storage space for your buck.
New features: Many of the new features added to the full-sized iPod have also been incorporated into the nano line—specifically, Quick Scroll, search, and gapless playback. As with the new iPod, the nano comes with a brighter screen—40 percent brighter, according to Apple—but you can’t adjust the brightness level. Battery life has also been improved, from 14 hours of music playback to up to 24 hours. The nanos also pick up a capability that’s been present in full-sized iPods for a while: the ability to record voice memos with a compatible accessory. Speaking of accessories…
Accessories: Included add-ons remain the same as before—earphones, a USB cable, and dock adapter—though the included earphones are the redesigned ones that Apple also ships with the new iPods. It’s worth noting that the headphone port is farther away from the dock connector than it was on the original nanos, making first-generation accessories that plug into both connectors incompatible with the new model.
What’s the same: Technically, the dimensions of the nano have changed—the device is now 0.26 inches thick instead of 0.27 inches. But if you’re able to detect a difference, your sensory powers are far greater than ours. And, of course, the overall shape and finish have changed. But everything else remains nearly identical to the original, including the bottom-mounted headphone port, top-mounted Hold switch, and USB-only syncing.
What we think: “The second-generation iPod nano is both a welcome step back to the more colorful (and scratch-resistant) days of the iPod mini and a moderate step forward in functionality.”
—From Christopher Breen’s
iPod nano review
Capacity changes: The 512MB option is no more. The second-generation shuffle comes in one capacity—1GB.
Pricing: Whether the pricing has changed depends on whether you’re a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty type. On the one hand, at $79, the second-generation iPod shuffle is $20 cheaper than the 1GB model that preceded it. On the other, you used to be able to buy an entry-level 512MB shuffle for $69; you’ll have to pay $10 more to get your hands on a new shuffle.
Accessories: The shuffle now comes with a USB dock for connecting to your computer; as mentioned above, it plugs into the shuffle’s headphone jack. The shuffle also includes Apple’s new iPod earbuds.
What’s the same: The spartan interface of the shuffle hasn’t changed—there’s a central play/pause button ringed by controls for fast-forwarding and replaying songs as well as adjusting the volume. Battery life remains rated at 12 hours.
What we think: Other than to marvel at the shuffle’s slimmer size, we’ll defer on making a definitive assessment on the new device until it arrives in October.