Review: The New iPod NanoS

Apple's iPod nano 2010 is a good MP3 player. It's tiny, the battery seems to last forever, and it has a great user interface.

This is the best pure music player out there right now, thanks to the combination of its physical specs and user interface. It may not be the prettiest—it reminds me of some Chinese generic MP3 player designs—but the combination of its hardware and user interface make it a winner for anyone in search of a simple, ultra-compact, no-complex-apps-or-games-needed, extremely-easy-to-operate music player. Especially sports people.

This thing is tiny and ultra-light. Large enough to allow for easy touchscreen operation, but very thin at 0.35 inches—including the clip. At only 0.74 ounces, I forgot where it was clipped to my clothes until I needed to change a playlist. It lasted through three days without recharging one single time.

The fact is that, like with the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod touch, the nano's hardware is getting generic, almost invisible, condensed into a slice of glass and metal. The iPod nano is the last incarnation of the morphing computing paradigm, a 1.54-inch 240 x 240-pixel touchscreen that is just platform for its software.

The only concession to the physical world are three physical buttons, two of them a very welcome addition: I could change the volume level without having to look at any screen. This is not only coherent with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but it makes sense, unlike the previous nano's scroll-the-click-click-the-click-wheel operation.

Review: The New iPod NanoS

Securely clipped right on my bike's handlebar, right in front of me, I could easily change the volume too. Most importantly, I could easily access any function on the nano with a single finger, even while riding through the park. That's the main advantage of this new design: The user interface is fast and works perfectly. I was afraid the screen would be too small for the format, but it works.

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Even while the nano is not iOS-based, it takes the iPhone's user interface and miniaturizes it successfully, down to the garish waterdrop wallpaper—which fortunately you can change. From the scrolling springboard system—flick your finger to reveal new panes with applications and shortcuts to music playlists or artists—to the dancing icons that allow you to configure those panes in exactly the way you want, it works like the iPhone.

Review: The New iPod NanoS

It could work more like the iPhone, though: I want applications, which undoubtedly will happen at one point. Not complicated applications, but simple apps adapted to the small format. Apps to check the weather or replacements for Nike+, tailored for other sports. I want connectivity, too—although I'm not wild about depleting the device's insane battery life with a power-hungry 3G radio. I want a camera—for FaceTime.

The only bad thing: I can't hardly justify the $150 plus tax of the nano. After all, I use my iPhone for music all the time, I always carry it with me, and I don't bike that much. But for those of you who don't use their cellphones for music and want a light, specialized gadget with a simple-to-use interface, you will like this one.