Other Gadgets

New Apple iPods review - Taking a bite of the perfect family

Ketaki Bhojnagarwala Mahananda Bohidar | Updated on August 03, 2011 Published on January 26, 2011

CHENNAI: 02/11/2010: New Apple IPods. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

Before Apple Inc. stepped into the industry with its line of music players, one would just say, “Hey! Check out my new Mp3 player!”

You know for certain that Apple iPods have carved out a distinctive niche in the portable music world as they are the only ones which are probably never referred to as just another Mp3 or music player .

The iPods succeeded in transcending the ‘generic’ very early in the game. But do they continue to work their magic with the latest in the range – the iPod Touch (4th Gen), iPod Nano (6th Gen) and iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)? Here’s the answer.

Touch, like never before

Apple iPod Touch

The fourth generation Apple iTouch is now closer to iPhone territory than ever. At first glance, you can see that it is visibly thinner, flat on the back and with curved edges, so it fits nicely in your the palm.

The next feature you notice is the inclusion of a tiny camera on the top, which you can now use to make Face Time calls to iPhone 4s and compatible Macs.

A camera has been integrated on the top left corner on the back, which is designed for HD recording but can also be used to capture stills. There is also an integrated speaker located at the bottom, which is encased in a tiny grille.

We were pleasantly surprised by how loud the speaker was, considering its size. Next to the speaker is a standard dock, and on the other side is a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The unit still ships with the average white iPod earphones, so we’d recommend you invest in a good pair from brands such as Sennheiser or Bose if you are picky about the quality of reproduction.

Unlike the single button we saw on previous iTouch models, the volume rocker switch has been replaced by two separate buttons.

The iTouch ships with an A4 processor, three-axis gyro sensor and a Retina display, taking on the iPhone 4 head to head. The only obvious difference being the fact that you can’t make calls with the iTouch.

The HD video recorder takes crisp and clear videos, and once you’re done with them you can either choose to email them or upload them directly to YouTube.Of course, if you’re looking at stills, the camera doesn’t compare to the 5-megger you get on the iPhone 4.

You can switch cameras by touching a button on the top of the screen, and both the cameras let you use tap to focus.

Gaming on the iTouch is still an engrossing experience. We tried the usual Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies and Guitar Hero on the player.

We even checked out a few pre-loaded racing games on the iTouch, and found that the new gyro sensor gave us better control than before.

There is a pre-installed app called the Game Centre, which keeps tabs on all your scores on the different games you play.

Rs 15,400 onwards

One small melody

Apple iPod Nano

In the five years since the 1st gen iPod Nano was released, the latest iPod Nano is the first one to integrate touch capabilities.

Apple deserves credit for having worked on a small screen real estate and still being able to offer a comfortably responsive touch interface.

Add to it the fact that the Nano, without doubt, delivers the kind of good sound quality that people have, by now, started associating Apple iPods with.

While a lot of the hullabaloo was about the ‘Multi-touch gestures’ that the 6th Gen Nano is capable of, we were surprised (not too pleasantly) to discover that when the company says ‘Multi touch’ it just means that we can use two fingers to rotate only the display in any direction we want to.

The tiny 1.54-inch screen has an impressive display and feels quite adequate as you thumb through your music, swap tracks or show off your photographs.

For some of us who have trouble remembering where we kept our tiny little iPod, there’s a clip-on which comes handy.

Even if you choose to go for a run or want to tune in during your daily commute, the Nano, clipped on, makes a perfectly hassle-free companion.

While the screen is very impressive, playing around with the functions or thumbing through your music once in a while, really drains out the battery.

It might be able to come close to Apple’s claim of a battery life of about 24 hours of music (after a full charge) only if you do not keep activating and making use of the touch screen too often.

Rs 10,700 onwards

Dare to bare

Apple iPod Shuffle

The 4th Gen Shuffle has no resemblance whatsoever to its predecessor, which was a thin, sleek device with absolutely no buttons on the body. The familiar trademark Apple click wheel is back, bang at the centre of the petite device.

With all the songs that we loaded, we could use the tiny ‘Power’ button on the top of the Shuffle to customise to play the tracks in order or shuffle them.

Keep the slider at the centre of the tiny slot to be able to listen to tracks in the order that you’ve stored them or shift it to the left to turn the ‘Shuffle’ feature on.

Next to the headphone jack is the indicator that flashes orange or green depending on the functions you are running or warnings that the player might want to alert you to.

The 4th Gen iPod Shuffle carries over the VoiceOver technology from the previous generation that ‘speaks to you’ in a way of alerting you if the battery is low, reading aloud music track names and such little interactions.

Small and with no-frills, the new Shuffle is the ideal device for someone who just wants to plug in and play on without any other distractions.

Rs 3,200 onwards

‘Tis time for FaceTime

We also got to try the new FaceTime video-chat feature on the new new iPod Touch. With FaceTime, you have the option of communicating via video with your iPod Touch, iPhone or a Mac. We connected the iPod Touch test unit to a Mac, which was running the Beta version of FaceTime. After logging in with our Apple ids, connecting via FaceTime was almost immediate, very similar to the time taken to connect a voice call. The sound quality was good but the volume relayed from the Mac to the iPod Touch was not as loud as it was the other way around. This, however, could have been a minor issue with the Mac itself. The video-calling experience was smooth and the images transmitted were excellent.

One feature that won us over was the ability to effortlessly switch from the front cam to the rear one. This would be amazing to put to use if you are showing off your newly done-up home to your family abroad or are travelling to a new place and want to share the experience with your friends back home.

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Published on January 26, 2011
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