Once upon a time, about five years ago, consumers were obsessed about the size of their cellphones. The smaller the phone, the better.
But that was before the advent of smartphones. In the past few years, cellphones have been getting gradually bigger again as they squeeze in more and more electronics.
Now, 3,5-inch, 3,7-inch and even 4,2-inch touch screens are de rigueur. In smartphones, bigger is often better.
Apple is taking the opposite bet in its hot-selling line of digital music players, the iPod nano. The latest incarnation of the nano, unveiled recently by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, takes an already tiny music player and cuts its size — and weight — in half.
Out goes the familiar click-wheel, and in comes a device whose surface area is made up almost entirely of a 1,5-inch touch screen — and, like the iPhone and iPod touch, the new nano even has basic multi-touch capabilities, allowing you to pinch and rotate the screen using two fingers.
In many respects, the new nano is like a tiny iPod touch.
The result is a sexy and lightweight device that you can clip onto your belt, or even onto your shirt, and scoot off to the gym or go on a cycle ride. It even has a pretty good built-in pedometer.
But the small size also has its downsides. The screen size is not ideal for a touch interface and, though it’s not difficult to get around the menu system, the older — and larger — nano was a bit faster to use.
Also, its small dimensions mean it’s easy to lose. Drop it into a handbag and it’ll quickly vanish. Leaving headphones plugged into it will help, though.
Sound quality from the nano is excellent, and the built-in FM radio software (with the ability to pause live radio) — also available in previous versions — is well designed.
Other nifty features include the ability to shake the device to shuffle to a new song as well as create and edit playlists.
The new nano, which is available in seven colour options, costs R1 559 for an 8GB version and R1 999 for a 16GB version. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral