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back to article Apple iPod Nano 7G review

Having sold something like 350 million iPods in the last decade, Apple has quite sensibly stuck to pretty much the same basic designs for most of the iPod range. The glaring exception to that rule is the ever-changing, shape-shifing iPod Nano. This is the seventh version of the Nano in seven years, and in that time it’s bounced …

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Missing from the review.....

This is a review for a music player, yes?

There are few things missing that I would have hoped to read about. What is the audio quality like, with and without the supplied ear 'phones, through a decent speaker system, what are the codecs it supports, how to transfer content to/from the device, battery charge time and battery usage time.....

These are the things one needs to know, not lines of text about how thin it is........

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Re: Missing from the review.....

"how to transfer content to/from the device"

iTunes. It's an Apple product so it'll only ever be iTunes.

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JDX
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Re: Missing from the review.....

So go read a review on a specialist audio site :)

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JDX
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Re: Missing from the review.....

It might be iTunes only on this device but historically that's definitely not the case. There are several free/open-source tools (for Windows at least) although which versions of iPod they can use varies. I use the very minimal SharePod program.

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Flame

Re: Missing from the review.....

This is an Apple product, it has nothing to do with Audio Quality or technical specifications. It's all about how "Shiny Shiny" the item is.

Thinness is far more important than Sound.

Colour is far more important than battery life.

The amazing Home Button is far more important than transfer speeds or connectivity.

What worries me more is the point at which El Reg have arrived at becoming Shills for Apple........ El Reg no longer do technical, now its all about Marketing.

Dear El Reg , please remind us how much of a kickback you guys get for all the Apple advertising.

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Headmaster

Re: Missing from the review.....

I can see all those things in this review, in the specs table at the bottom of page one, and on page two.

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Headmaster

Re: Missing from the review.....

Toxteth - I am sure you would agree that simply printing the specs has no relation to a worthwhile review.

Battery life figures mean nothing on a spec sheet, it would be better to have real world figures ? all that El Reg did was quote the specs.

Connectivity : Bluetooth - Which versions are catered for ?

Radio : Did anyone even turn it on ?

You catch my drift.

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Re: Missing from the review.....

I'm not sure how one would test the battery life on a device like this. Laptops, for example, can either have a benchmark script on them, or else the common " we played a 720 video on loop with screen at half brightness and the WiFi on".

MP3 players can't just be left on playing music, in order to test the battery, since a real user would be turning on the screen every so often to change tracks... (especially as the only justification for this device over something far cheaper but very competent like a Sansa Clip is that it might have a sleeker user interface - hell, I'm beginning to sound like a shill for Sansa, oh well, do your research). Were the reviewer to attempt a battery test scientifically ("All tested MP3 players will have 5 tracks selected per hour, then left to play for an hour, repeat until dead" for example) it would take a very long time to test. The alternative is to do the mobile phone battery 'test': "I used it as I would my normal phone and I still had a bit of battery at the end of the day" which will give subjective results that are probably no more useful than the manufacturer's battery life claims.

So, that leaves the manufacturer's claims... though not 100% reliable, if said manufacturer has a history of being fairly accurate with their battery life claims, then it may be as good a measure as any. If you're really concerned about it, wait a few weeks, and take a sample of opinions from real users from online forums. They together will give a better idea than one reviewer with a single test unit could (that may have had its battery abused by the last reviewer to play with it).

[And yes, I know I could have used a better word than 'manufacturer' but sod it]

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Estimating battery life

If the battery is fully charged, the power drawn from the adaptor or USB bus should be pretty much what the device is consuming, so if you compare it for display off and display on, you should be able to estimate how much more quickly the battery will drain with the display on. Of course there are inaccuracies such as the internal resistance of the battery, but playing unspecified mp3s at an unspecified volume is an inexact science when it comes to power consumption anyway.

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Trollface

It looks a bit like a Lumia 920 - deploy the lawyers!

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Agreed!

Took one look at it and jumped to the comments section. Can't believe El Reg (who would swoop in and say something looks "like an iPhone" if it did) somehow missed this non-pro-Apple point!

Oh, wait.

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They still make these ?

Surely anyone who wanted an MP3 player already has one, at least in their phone. Perhaps the remaining market is for Apple users replacing iPods when the battery fails.

And am I alone in owning several MP3 players and seldom using them, except for long journeys ? I generally use a Sony because it's much easier to update. I have an Apple player but Sony's drag and drop loading is infinitely less maddening than iTunes..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They still make these ?

Guess what, people are different and like different things.

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Re: They still make these ?

>Surely anyone who wanted an MP3 player already has one, at least in their phone

I can see situations in which you either wouldn't want the bulk of a mobile phone (jogging), or else want something a little more expendable (jogging through the rain). For the latter, this device would appear to fail, priced as it is.

Also, a phone isn't much cop if you are playing music at a party but still need to make the odd phone call or receive a text.

I'm really not sold on this device. If they had kept the previous nano form factor, and added Bluetooth remote control to your other iDevice (especially one in a speaker dock on the other side of the room) there might be a good reason for some users to buy it. (But that sort of Apple user probably has AirPlay already)

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JDX
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Re: They still make these ?

My phones have had MP3 support for ages, but I've never really felt comfortable using it as a MP3 player. I don't really even know why, but I would say I find the dedicated UI on my old 3rd/4th-gen nano is preferable to using it on my phone.

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Re: They still make these ?

I have kids who love music but whom I would not trust with a phone (mostly due to costs of data plans). So ...

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FAIL

Re: They still make these ?

Phones are too hard to control in the gym. De-pocket it, unlock it (twice if it's an HTC), navigate back to the playlist, touch the screen to skip a track... That being my primary use case, WTF would I want a touchscreen player that costs nearly as much as my (contract) phone, that I'd still have to unpocket, unlock, and stare at in order to skip tracks?

Much prefer something cheap with physical buttons, like a $40 Clip+. Better specs all around, except you won't be watching movies on it (who cares!)

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Anonymous Coward

7G

I had to blink and check my calendar. No, it's not April yet, so hats off to those forward-thinking Apple engineers...

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Coat

Re: 7G

It must be better, it's got more G's than everyone else's product.

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Uh, 16GB?

This all seems rather pathetic compared to my ancient iRiver H140 with.. 40GB, back in the day. I still have it lying around somewhere with Rockbox on it. Even that was never enough. Are people's music collections really so small? I would have thought they would be larger in size than ever, with the rise in preference to FLAC and so on.

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JDX
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Re: Uh, 16GB?

Buy an iPod classic then.

The point of a nano is you trade size for space... and you can very easily swap what albums are on. Every few days, every week, even every evening if you want.

16Gb is quite a lot of albums.

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Re: Uh, 16GB?

Hehe, last week I got out the Torx T5 and helped a mate stick a 1st gen iPod battery in his H140... you've got to snip the cable on the new battery and reverse the polarity. He bought two at the time, in case one should ever fail. Lovely things. Some wretch nicked my H320 from my car, bastard. Even today they fetch a bit on eBay.

He was so desperate to get a massive HDD-based player that he bought an Archos 500GB 4.8 'Internet tablet'. Cue disappointment when it could only index 200GB or so of audio... at first the internet suggested it was a limitation of its Android OS, but a firmware update seems to have cheered it up.

Eventually, I suggested he just buy a couple of Sansa Clips and some microSD cards. He rang me to say the damned things would only charge to to 2/3rds, and that the buttons didn't work. It turned out he hadn't removed the protective plastic from the screen!

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"Re: @Dave 126 - Uh, 16GB?" - Who needs 500GB on the go!?

Why with 32/64GB tablets/phones, ultrabooks and Spotify, who needs to take 500GB of music around with them? My bet your friend hasn't got 500GB of legitimately bought music either.

Anyway, I wish Sony would bring back their Minidisc and open up the standard. I'd have one of those with the amazing small discs over an iPod anyday.

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Re: Uh, 16GB?

"Are people's music collections really so small?"

Yes. We've got about 60 CDs which we've collected over the years when we've found something decent. The last set of purchases have been via iTunes and are mostly BBC audiobooks (I live abroad and can't get them in the shops) although some old songs have been bought and some digital replacements for the vinyl (don't have a turntable any more).

All of this liveshappily on the old 16Gb Nano that sits in the living room and connects to the hi-fi and still has room to spare! (Don't talk to me about streaming things - the other half still can't get to grips with the Nano!)

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Re: "@Dave 126 - Uh, 16GB?" - Who needs 500GB on the go!?

>My bet your friend hasn't got 500GB of legitimately bought music either.

Yours is a reasonable bet, but on this occasion wrong. ish. He bought it all on vinyl over decades, and transcribes it to WAV and MP3 through a FireWire soundcard. Much of it new, but some off eBay in recent years. Grey area. Mostly obscure psychedelia, preferably first pressing.

I wish he would use ID3 tags as opposed to trying to fit all the information (track, artist, record label, year) into the filename, but he's stuck in his ways... it may be that it is these long filenames that are causing his players headaches to index.

He does have an insane amount of vinyl, but I don't know what bitrate/format he is using to fully fill 500GB.

>Anyway, I wish Sony would bring back their Minidisc and open up the standard. I'd have one of those with the amazing small discs over an iPod anyday.

Look at the Wikipedia article... they did make some changes in the MD's last years, allowing discs to be copied to computers more easily. The standard disc was around a 100MB, though a roughly 1GB 'HD' version was sold. You have to use the ATRAC codec though, so you may lose quality if you later transcribe recordings to a more commonly used format. The first Sony iPod equivalents still used ATRAC and SonicStage (uegh!). The website Anythingbutipod.com might help you find the right device for you.

I loved my MiniDisc player - record, split, rearrange delete on most devices... Splendid thing. But now I'd rather have a Rockboxed iRiver h320 with a CF card in place of the little 1.8" Tosh HDD (no moving parts to be picked up by the internal microphone).

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Re: "@Dave 126 - Uh, 16GB?" - Who needs 500GB on the go!?

>Look at the Wikipedia article... they did make some changes in the MD's last years, allowing discs to be copied to computers more easily. The standard disc was around a 100MB, though a roughly 1GB 'HD' version was sold. You have to use the ATRAC codec though, so you may lose quality if you later transcribe recordings to a more commonly used format. The first Sony iPod equivalents still used ATRAC and SonicStage (uegh!). The website Anythingbutipod.com might help you find the right device for you.

I did have the very last portable MD player they made (the RH1) but sold it on because I had no need for it apart from keeping it for history value. It did everything that it should of done 3 or 4 years previous before the iPod took hold of the market. One of the NetMDs I had was based off that horrible SonicStage software. Once the music was copied (via slow USB 1.1), it couldnt be transferred off. Legacy recordings from other MD equipment couldnt be copied off either. If they'd allowed freedom of movement and did the legacy transfers from the start like the RH1 had at the end, I reckon Minidisc would be still alive today. No doubt the Sony Music corporation butted in and requested no freedom of transfer within the files at the beginning. MD was also the perfect roaming recording device for pro's.

The big shame that the MD cult in Japan never quite spread over here. Things like custom designed discs with well designed artwork etc always appeared over there when sites like AudioCubes exported them to here.

>Yours is a reasonable bet, but on this occasion wrong. ish. He bought it all on vinyl over decades, and transcribes it to WAV and MP3 through a FireWire soundcard. Much of it new, but some off eBay in recent years. Grey area. Mostly obscure psychedelia, preferably first pressing.

I should of guessed. A proper audiophile like used to be before MP3 VBR at v0 became pretty damn transparent and the norm.

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Alert

headphone noise pollution

Never mind what the headphones sound like to the wearer.

What I want to know is are they are hideously noise polluting as the original criminal pieces of crap ?

stu

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Anonymous Coward

Re: headphone noise pollution

but, but, but ... as the current advert says ... "they're not round, as headphones ought not be". Isn't that enough for you ;-)

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Re: headphone noise pollution

At least you can't sodcast with them - yet.

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WTF?

Camera? What Camera?

Where in tarnation did El Reg dig up that Vital Statistics iPod Nano 2012 chart with camera specs from the iPhone? This Nano ain't got no camera.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Camera? What Camera?

Be even odder if it did have a 1080p camera, given it can't playback those files!

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According to the Apple store in Kingston

The iPod battery is designed to last less than 2 years. At least that's what they told my mother when she went to complain that her battery only lasts 30 minutes, and apparently 2 years is very old for an Apple product she should buy a new one as they don't replace batteries. A statement immediately contradicted by the genius bar when she phoned for an appointment who said they could send her a replacement battery in the post for a mere £60.

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Re: According to the Apple store in Kingston

Li-ion batteries don't last forever, though for a pricey player one should expect a cheaper replacement service. It ain't the case that Apple designed the Li-ion chemistry to fail. EU law says that a purchase should last a reasonable amount of time... in practice, this means a minimum of 2 years for most things, if it were a £600 television then 5 years minimum would be reasonable. See a site like moneysavingexperts or somesuch for more details.

Those of us who have read the El Reg guide to caring for Li-ion batteries will know that they last longest if kept between 80 and 100% charge... but this isn't made clear in instruction manuals, and many users have fuzzy memories of advice for Ni-Cads (drain it!). Apple laptops are unusual in that they can be kept plugged in all the time without damaging the battery due to smart circuitry, something that many other 'desktop replacement' laptops overlook. My Sony phone had a 'battery preserve' feature that stopped charging after 90% charge, but it seems to have disappeared with the ICS update.

I have cheap and cheerful player with a built in battery, but that's easier to overlook when the whole thing only cost £40 for an 8GB model.

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Facepalm

Re: According to the Apple store in Kingston

Thanks for the battery lecture and completely missing/avoiding the actual point of my post.

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Re: According to the Apple store in Kingston

Sorry, I thought you were being sarcastic when you said 'a mere £60' for a battery. Seems pricey, is all. As long as your good with it! : D

.

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Apple laptops are unusual?

"Apple laptops are unusual in that they can be kept plugged in all the time without damaging the battery due to smart circuitry, something that many other 'desktop replacement' laptops overlook."

I've never come across a single laptop or notebook that isn't capable of stopping charging the battery when it's full, which is presumably what you're trying to say. What's so special about Apple?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple laptops are unusual?

My guess is the Apple machine charges the battery then once charged stops charging it and you run off of direct mains power.

While most other laptops the battery is charged, and you continue to run off the battery which is then constantly recharged.

That would be my guess based off of what was posted.

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Re: Apple laptops are unusual?

>I've never come across a single laptop or notebook that isn't capable of stopping charging the battery when it's full, which is presumably what you're trying to say.

Nearly, but not quite:

Apple laptops don't just stop at 100% (as all laptops do), but rather they don't start charging again until the battery has fallen below around 94%, i.e gentle shallow cycling when left plugged in. They call it 'Adaptive charging' if you want to read between the gumpf. They also have chips in each cell of the battery to measure charge and temperature, allowing the charging system control over individual cells.

It is probably fair to say that Apple are making the most of the bed that they made for themselves when they made the batteries non-user-replaceable.

I'm not suggesting that Apple are the only vendors who employ this sort of management. As I noted, Sony phones had a feature to prevent the charging to 100% for similar reasons. I've had a good number of Windows laptops with batteries that became fairly useless within eighteen months because I've had them plugged in for long periods. Though I've tried to remember to unplug them for short periods to keep them cycling in the 85%-100% range, it really isn't practical. Okay, these weren't any vendor's premium models, but still.

I'm not an Apple user.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple laptops are unusual? - Lenovo S205

The S205 (superb machine for the price - best keyboard ever for typing) does this. Apple really are nothing special you know.

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Anonymous Coward

If it made phonecalls...

... and had a basic web browser capability, I might buy one...

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Anonymous Coward

It looks rather generic and bland to me, not at all like Apple's previous designs.

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Gimp

"hardware company"???

Surely you mean "marketing company".

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FAIL

£129 - 16Gb - lol

Sansa Clip is still the one to get.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £129 - 16Gb - lol

Yep, for £40 for 8GB it's hard to fault. Get it whilst you can, cos the new Clip model- by all accounts pretty good- has a colour screen and takes longer to start up.

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FAIL

The iPod touch, iPhone and iPad all lack album shuffle. Does this? If it does, it should be mentioned in the review because it would make the thing unusable for listening to music. If it doesn't it should be mentioned in the review because it is a change from the previous version of the iPod Nano.

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WTF?

No shuffle?

My iPhone has album shuffle. Not that I use it as I tend to listen to albums as the artists intended.

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Re: No shuffle?

I assume album shuffle means play an entire album, then play another one randomly chosen, rather than, play in order, get all your Wurzels albums at the end when the battery has died anyway or track shuffle, play any track whenever it fancies thereby eliminating the need for artists to even create albums.

As for the amount of data you can get on it, i have a 1GB Shuffle (2G?) and since the only way to charge it is through USB that's when i update the tracks, never get through them all before the battery needs charging anyway so no need for a bigger storage capacity without a better battery.

NB The battery is now old and the device has had a lot of abuse as it is used for gym, running (wet and dry) and basically for a device that can fail as I want a new one now anyway!

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Go

Re: No shuffle?

It does? Does this mean that they finally fixed that bug in iOS 6?

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Joke

"It’s like a having a little musical credit card in your pocket."

So it's plasticky and continuously costs you money?

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A music player without physical buttons means you have to remove it from your pocket every time you want to interact with it (unless you have expensive proprietary earphones with inline controls). It's a basic UI fail.

Then again, this is an Apple device, where half the reason for owning it is to show other people that you're a member of a 'better class of person'.

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