After spending seven days living with our new iPods, we're gonna let them stay. As far as media-slinging sidekicks go, they're pretty good. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows.
It's easy to say that the new iPod Touch is the best iPod Touch ever. (It is.) It is un-possibly thin—so thin that you release a slow gasp as you peel it out of its snug acrylic womb. The way the polished chrome back bends space around it renders it thinner still, like you're holding a screen imprinted into the air in front of you. (At least, until it's scuffed and scratched and nicked into reality.) You only get a true sense of its dimensions when you plug it in for the first time: It's exactly thick enough to accommodate the holes for a dock connector and headphones.
The price of invisibility is that the lock and volume buttons also dissolve into imperceptibility. The in-line remote and mic have been removed from the headphones as well, in a fit of cheapness by Apple. A sliver of a corner to cut, but it's emblematic of the little ways Apple sabotages the Touch's potential.
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.
Admitting you were wrong is not easy. But with the 2010 iPod Shuffle, Apple's owned up to the previous generation's follies in the best possible way: fixing them. Mostly.
This new Shuffle, this little square nubbin of an MP3 player, is equal parts retreat and evolution. Gone entirely is the BIC lighter styling of its immediate predecessor. In its place, a truncated version of the 2006 Shuffle, buttons and all. It's that last part that's crucial.
You'd be hard-pressed to place the 2010 iPod Shuffle in the same genus as last year's model based on looks alone. The two next to each other look like Abbot and Costello—long versus squat. The new guy measures 1.24 inches wide by 1.14 inches tall by 0.34 inch thick, with a control wheel that's almost exactly the diameter of a quarter. It weighs just under half an ounce, light enough to be essentially imperceptible—to the point that you may forget you have it clipped to your shirt pocket until halfway through an important meeting, like I did.