iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Apple iPod nano 3G

The popular player gets video playback capabilities.

January 14, 2008

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New interface

The player interface has been improved owing to the higher display resolution. You shouldn't expect revolutionary changes here, the classic controls are preserved. The most noticeable feature of the new interface is a split display. The left part shows a traditional directory of categorized files. The right part shows graphics and sometimes additional info of a selected item. For example, if you select Music in the main menu, the right part of the display will show slowly moving album images (if at least one file has an album image, of course). It looks much better than static images. The same happens if you select Videos, Photos, or Podcasts. In case of the Extra and Settings menus, the right part of the display will show nicely decorated menu items (games, alarm clock, calendar, etc). When you choose the Settings menu, the right part of the display also shows memory status -- how much memory is free.

The new interface: traditional file list on the left and a browser on the right. Note that the image is moving slowly on the first two screenshots.

The next feature of the new interface, highlighted by Apple, is the Cover Flow mode. Users of iTunes surely know it -- scrolling album images impress new users the most. This graphical interface is really convenient, only if all or most of your files come with album images. Happy owners of iTunes Store accounts may download album images for free (the program will do it automatically, but many songs and albums may be without images -- it depends on names of tracks and albums and whether they are available in iTunes Store). Other files will have to be associated with images manually, if you want to use Cover Flow and avoid music signs on gray background instead of album images (they look nice, but they are not informative).

The Cover Flow mode. The first three screenshots show scrolling through albums; the fourth screenshot shows choosing an album; the fifth and sixth screenshots show song interface.

Cover Flow in iPod nano 3G is of mediocre quality. The iPod slows down noticeably when you scroll albums fast. Besides, you will always see image artifacts, especially noticeable on top and bottom of the image. It can be easily explained -- the player is not powerful enough for good graphics performance, and it's hardly expedient to increase it for Cover Flow only. So you can use Cover Flow, it looks nice, but you shouldn't expect higher quality than in the iPhone, iPod touch, and in iTunes.

When you select an album in Cover Flow, it turns over to display the list of its tracks. It looks attractive. You might have seen this effect in iPhone and iPod touch ads.

Searching for and browsing text files.

The search function is also stylish and well thought out -- as you select a letter with a click wheel, the player will instantly display a list of songs and albums that match the search criteria.

Vortex, iPod Quiz and Klondike games.

We should say a few words about three games available in the player: iPod Quiz (you should guess a melody), Klondike (solitaire), and Vortex (a stylish radial arkanoid, I liked it most).

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, impressions

Page 2: New interface

Page 3: Video, audio, conclusions

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