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In a hundred years time, if there was one object that might represent the Western world of the early 21st century the iPod would be a strong contender. Once merely a music player it’s become the ‘must-have’ fashion accessory of the moment. And even with its increased ubiquity as sales continue to rise there’s no backlash yet it sight.
So far at TrustedReviews we’ve looked at a third-gen model, the iPod shuffle and the iPod photo. Now due to some recent improvements we’ve taken the time to gaze upon the lovely smooth curves of an iPod mini.
Introducing the mini was certainly a very smart move by Apple and the player could be seen as the most important of the entire iPod family. By moving from a 1.8inch hard drive to a 1in drive, Apple was able to shrink down the already svelte iPod to an irresistibly cute, pocketable size package. By doing this it opened up the iPod to a whole range of listeners, such as girls and accountants, to whom having a tiny, cool looking MP3 player was far more important than being able to carry round their entire music collection.
The original mini introduced the click wheel which integrated the four navigation buttons of the third gen model, later adopted by the 4th-gen iPod and the iPod photo. While the original sported a 4Gb hard disk, the mini’s competitors such as Creative’s Zen Micro and the iRiver H10 responded by putting 5GB hard disks. Now Apple has hit back by leapfrogging them with a 6GB drive, only for Creative to respond again with 6GB Zen Micro.
However, big news is how effectively Apple has dealt with the mini’s biggest failing – the rather feeble battery life. Thanks to making use of a new more efficient chipset from PortalPlayer, the mini now boasts a very impressive claimed battery-life of 18 hours – a lot better than the eight hours of the original. This figure is based upon playback of 128Kpbs AAC files, which is a lot more realistic than the 48Kpbs figure used by Sony. Higher bit-rates will lower battery life due to increased CPU usage, but the figure is still very impressive. (Update - under our testing we obtained over 22 hours of continuous playback).
The other change is that Apple retired the ‘bling’ Gold coloured mini, while changing the shade of the remaining colours. Our review sample is a rather lovely blue colour but you can also get silver, green and pink.
The packaging for the mini is as lovely as ever from Apple. The box lid slides off to reveal the mini wrapped in plastic. The box underneath is split in two halves – one for the install discs and one for the headphones, USB cable, and a belt clip holder. As with all the new iPods there’s no Firewire cable, no dock connector no remote, – but all are available as optional extras. There's no AC adaptor either, so you can only charge when connected to the PC.