Five things about the new iPod nano

by Michael Alderete on 9/14/2006 · 12 comments

Here are five things I’ve noticed about the new iPod nano I picked up yesterday (I bought the new 8 gigabyte nano, available only in black), which I have not seen anyone else write about yet:

  • The packaging is not just smaller, it’s hard, clear plastic instead of cardboard. It’s a really clever design that holds the nano suspended in the front of the box. There’s a small label on the back of the bracket that holds the nano tightly, which illustrates how to flex the bracket to release the nano. Very clever design…but it took me a few tugs and pulls and a bit of frustration, before I turned the piece over, and saw the illustration.
  • The new nano looks and feels substantially smaller than the old nano, until you line them up right next to each other. The new nano is a teensy bit thinner, but virtually identical in the other two dimensions. The size difference is mostly optical illusion caused by the new rounded edges.
  • Speaking of rounded edges, the new nano comes with a new dock connector fit bracket. The new nano fits into the nano bracket of my Logitech mm50 portable speakers, but my old nano will not fit into the new Apple bracket. It’s a bit too thick, and doesn’t have the rounded edges. I suspect that the new nano will work with most products which fit the old nano form factor, but the reverse will be hit and miss. Products that support a perfect fit for the new nano will not work with the old one.
  • The new nano requires iTunes 7 to sync with a computer. Normally I like to wait a week or two before trying new versions of iTunes, but in this case, I had to install it. (Working wonderfully so far, knock wood.) A very nice set of improvements, including a few things of use to audiobook aficionados like me; more on those in another post.
  • The center select button, the “dot” in the middle of the click wheel, is very slightly concave (the button on the old nano is perfectly flat). It seems like such a tiny difference, and I’m sure by measurements it’s a small fraction of a millimeter, but it’s both quite visible as a real-world gradient, and a really wonderful tactile difference. You instantly know when your thumb is on or touching the button. Just another one of those aesthetic touches that only Apple seems to think of and consider worthwhile. They seem small, but they add up.

All in all, I think the new 8 gig nano is a terrific refinement to a device which I already thought was nearly perfect. And now that it’s sync’ed up with my audiobooks, I am looking forward to road testing it later today during my commute.

Justin Moore September 18, 2006 at 5:47 am

Where did you pick yours up at - in an Apple retail store?

Just curious as I’m about ready to make a purchase myself and I’m not sure I want to wait for Apple to ship me one.

Alderete September 18, 2006 at 7:58 am

I went to the Pleasanton retail Apple Store on my way in to work, and bought one there. I wanted to get it immediately, and the retail store was going to be faster than even overnight shipping. And since Apple is in California, buying online wouldn’t even save me the sales tax, so…

I had tried to buy one the night before, at the SF Apple Store, but they didn’t have any yet (it was, after all, just 8 hours after the announcement). The guy at the door promised “a few units” of the 8 gig model when they opened the next day, and recommended being there right when they opened…

Angela October 14, 2006 at 11:22 am

I just bought the new ipod nano and I need to get a case for it. I am having trouble looking for a case because the only ones I can find are for the old nano. I am wondering that if I get the old case it might not fit the new nano. I need a case. Please tell me if there is a difference and advise me to either wait for a new nano case or get and old nano case.

Alderete October 16, 2006 at 8:29 pm

@Angela: You should wait to get a case designed for the new nano form factor. I am late on posting a follow-up to this post, but the sizing is just different enough that most cases designed originally for the 1st generation nano will not quite fit the 2nd generation version. That is, they may fit OK, but it will not be a correct, perfect fit unless the case is redesigned.

AppleFan September 21, 2007 at 10:27 pm

What the heck! I got my new iPod Nano and it is not compatable with my iBook. I have OS X 10.3.9, that I bought only 2 years ago, and when i plug my iPod into my computer it says that I need version OS X 10.4 or later- what the heck is this about?? Shouldnt the fact that i have the right version of iTunes be the only thing that matters?? Suddenly Windows XP is sounding kinda nice…

Alderete September 23, 2007 at 8:41 pm

@AppleFan: I don’t know what to say. Mac OS X 10.4 is more than two years old at this point, and 10.3 is weeks away from being officially obsoleted and unsupported. So it’s not really a surprise that Apple is requiring a modern version of their operating system to work with their latest iPod hardware. I think it would be worse if they supported it (10.3) for a few weeks, and then desupported it after 10.5 ships…

jared October 7, 2007 at 7:03 am

i agree..this stinks..i just bought the nano and now i have to buy os x 10.4. I think the staff at the apple store should be required to tell u this, since most people still have their apple computer from 2 years ago. further more i plan on buying a new apple in 6 months and now have to buy an operating system that the new computer will come with, waste of my hard earned dollars. I don’t need 10.4 for any other reason since my current old version works great for what i need this computer to be used for. tsk tsk apple! sounds like a cash grab..good way to lose a loyal customer….oh ya…my nano seems to be missing those spunge things that go over the earphones..my old ipod mini came with them..grrr.

Alderete October 7, 2007 at 4:41 pm

@jared: Well, “Apple’s tech specs for the iPod nano”:http://www.apple.com/ipodnano/specs.html clearly state that 10.4 is required. And any market research about OS X versions is going to show that “people running 10.3 are a very small minority”:http://update.omnigroup.com/ (see also “this poll”:http://www.orderedbytes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12). And as I wrote to AppleFan, 10.5 is just a couple weeks away from shipping, at which time 10.3 will be officially obsolete — as in, Apple won’t support it in any way.

Time marches on, and there is nowhere that this is more true than in the technology field. I really don’t think you can blame Apple for not supporting your desire to mix brand-new hardware with 4 year old software (OS X 10.3 shipped in October 2003). If you really want to stick with Mac OS X 10.3, perhaps you should look for a good used iPod on eBay or craigslist…?

jared October 9, 2007 at 5:49 pm

nuts to that

LizJ October 29, 2007 at 11:15 am

I think it stinks as well. I just bought a new Nano for my husband, got it home, plugged it in, and saw “the message.” I suspect most 10.3.X users are HOME users which IS the iPod market. So, I’ve ordered 10.4 and now I sit back and wait for it to get here. Fortunately my husband is out of town on business; hopefully the new OS will get here in time to get his new Nano set up.

I really feel that it’s not the “Apple Way” to insist on this kind of forced upgrade and I’m very disappointed.

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