The Apple iPod’s first release in 2001 spawned a huge range of different incarnations and variants in the following years. Now in 2010, the iPod range covers more than enough hard disk sizes and music capabilities to have a product for almost anyone looking for a portable media player. But just how can you decide what works for you when there are so many iPods to choose from?
Apple’s extremely popular and lucrative foray into the hyper-portable media player market consists of two different iPods, the Nano and the Shuffle. Both types of iPod have undergone significant changes since their initial releases, so we’ll be looking at the current versions as we compare them.
As with all Apple iPods, the Nano and Shuffle share a few distinct characteristics and features. Both are designed to work with Apple’s iTunes music-playing software, and both are compatible with Macintosh and Windows. The two devices have a similar aesthetic style, sporting the anodised aluminium finishes which have come to typify many of Apple’s products, they’re both the same shape, and they’re both extremely simple in their construction. So how can you tell the difference between the two?
The iPod Nano: Everything iPod, but smaller
It’s not too hard to pick between the two: the iPod Nano is the one with the screen. Since it was first released, the Nano has shrunk from version to version until it’s now a square-shaped lozenge which you can easily hide in the palm of your hand. Size hasn’t affected functionality: the Nano still boasts the high-quality visuals of its predecessors, but has subbed out the original navigation wheel for a purely touch-based screen. The device also lets you upload and view photos as well as packing an FM radio and “Genius”, an automated playlist feature which claims to come up with the most appropriate playlists based on your song selection. And while it may not yet be the greatest of DJs, it may well be the smallest. The iPod Nano is the best choice for anyone who wants a hyper-portable music player with the ease of navigation and crisp visuals of something much bigger.
The iPod Shuffle: Minimal intrusion
The Shuffle, on the other hand, dispenses with the screen altogether - the only of the iPods to do so. With a ring-arrangement of five buttons for playback and a small toggle on the side, the Shuffle can be a bit hard to get used to, especially for iPod users accustomed to seeing their song-names scrolling by. Apple’s addressed this lack of “visibility” in the latest Shuffle, with new feature VoiceOver reading aloud the names of songs, playlists and even battery status when you need to hear them. It’s a welcome feature which helps solve one of the main bugbears about the incredibly small, incredibly thin device, which can now be clipped to your clothes for the ultimate in portability. While many users may still find it a little hard to operate at first, the Shuffle is a cheaper and more portable music player than the Nano, and is especially great for people on the move, exercise fans and - in a most welcome move - even the visually impaired.
Hopefully this short guide gives you a better idea of what iPod you might want to get. Who knows what Apple will pull out of its core next?