What was unexpected when listening to the iPod mini was that it sounded fantastic. After comparison with my third-gen iPod, there was definitely a superior level of clarity on the iPod mini, as if it were capable of better frequency response. Indeed by comparison iPod sounded relatively muffled.
What it all boils down to is that the iPod mini is a lovely player. One day of course, a 20GB iPod will be this size, but for now six gigs is your limit. At this capacity it no longer loses out to the Zen and H10, but while Creative and iRiver have both worked hard on improving the look and usability of their players, the mini is still miles ahead. With its rounded sides and neat click wheel interface, it really does look the part of the cool fashion accessory. It feels just right in the hand and the click wheel interface still hasn’t been bettered. It also sounds better than previous hard disk based iPods. Furthermore, now that the battery life has been so significantly improved it’s very hard not to love the second-gen mini.
There are missing features that might give pause for thought, such as a built-in radio, recording function and microphone. But if it’s just a player you want these issues fall by the way-side. For me the only reason I wouldn’t want one is that I do want to carry my entire music collection around with me. Or at least more of it than I could fit on a 6GB drive.
The good news is that Apple is still offering a 4GB version, with all the benefits of extended battery life, at an affordable £139. So if your main aim in owning a mini is to look trendy, the cheaper 4GB version could be the way to go.
With the new iPod mini, Apple has increased its capacity by a third, battery-life by two-and-a-half times and improved sound quality. It’s a pretty impressive triple whammy and as long as its capacity is large enough for you, the iPod mini would be our recommended digital audio player.