October 13, 2008

iPod nano hands-on: This is more like it

So today we went to Bonifacio High Street- always a pleasure to go to- and we went into iStudio where smack dab right in front of the doorway iPods both old and new were placed for mass fondling. Naturally, I went to the newer nano and tried it out, unfortunately I had to make do with my cellphone's video camera as its still camera is next to broken (it rarely works) but at least it's video!

You seriously have to hold it to see how amazingly thin this thing is. Still, I did not realize how sharp its base edges are. Sit down in a certain angle with that thing in your pocket and bam, potentially bruised leg! But I guess that's beauty for ya- like that pair of awesomely contoured but painful to wear shoes, you just have to make sacrifices for the sake of coolness.

That quirk aside, this iPod is unbelievably nearly as slim as a credit card which is no joke, yet like a shuffle is ultimately easy to lose because it can easily drop and the grip you have on this is thing is not exactly anything to write home about especially if you have sweaty hands like mine.

Features-wise, the new nano works excellently on most if not all accounts. Yeah Genius, although not turned on in that specific unit will depend on the kinds of varieties of music you have in your library. The accelerometer is surprisingly snappier and more responsive so you get to Cover Flow mode in your music or landscape mode in your photos faster if you rotate the position of the iPod... or maybe I got used to the angle you have to rotate the iPod in to do those things? Whatever the case, the nano does these things beautifully. Unfortunately, the controls don't rotate accordingly, thus even when you flip the nano 90 degrees, the Menu button does not become either the Next or Previous buttons in the click wheel, the function of the Menu button merely remains the same.

But another thing that's more responsive is the aforementioned Cover Flow. When it was first introduced in the fat nano and the then new classic, operation was rather slow unlike in the iPod touch where it was invaluable as a navigation tool. Now, well, the new nano doesn't exactly change everything, but it feels less slower and more responsive.

And when you fire it up, you'll notice some more practical aesthetic changes in the interface. You know that little preview screen that divided the real list into half and made navigation slower? It's been relegated to the lower part of the screen instead seeing that the screen's dimensions don't exactly fit a setup like last time's.

Another beautiful aesthetic change comes when you actually play something because it now looks like the iPod touch's Now Playing screen wherein the album art covers up most of the screen. And if you hold on to the center button long enough, you'll see a new context menu with options for browsing songs of the same artist or album, for adding a song to the On-The-Go playlist and for starting Genius which makes a playlist of songs that it thinks sounds great with the current song, which is a nice touch.

But if you don't seem to like a specific song, you can always give the nano a vigorous shake as if you're blaming the nano for making yourself know that you have a horrible taste in music, so it will switch tracks and activate Shuffle. If you're wondering whether this gimmick will ruin your mood because it'll repeatedly switch tracks while you're running or jogging, don't fret, because Apple worked hard to make sure that that will rarely happen, if not at all. Besides, if the thing is on Hold, shake-to-Shuffle is disabled anyway. If you're still paranoid about it, you could always disable it entirely.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, video and picture quality are superb, and the screen has become more tolerable for longer video viewing sessions, but I encountered plenty of glare. The video or picture you're viewing will rotate accordingly to the angle you're viewing unless it's portrait though.

I didn't get to try out the acceleremeter driven game Maze, nor was I able to gauge how clear the Voice Recording feature was, but it's still safe to say that the new nano is a more than welcome enhancement- and a must-buy especially with its competitive price in the 8000-10000 peso range for 8 and 16GB models.

On an unrelated side note, the Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street branch is just pure heaven for booklovers. So obviously today was also my first time going in there. I mean, what more can you ask for with a whole building devoted to books of all genres? Starbucks? It's got that too.

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