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The iPod nano's middleweight stature also shows up in its display. It's a 2.5-inch 240 x 432 pixel jobbie, a bit like a slimmer version of a phone screen from 2008. Pixel density is respectable, making text reasonably sharp, but it doesn't come close to the Retina displays of the 2012 iPod touch and iPhone 5.
Display quality isn't quite top-notch, either. The iPod nano uses a TN panel, which suffers from contrast shift when tilted the wrong way. It's not a disaster, but coming from one of the pioneers of high pixel density screens, it's disappointing to see a fully redesigned product end up with something second-rate.
The small, relatively low-res screen makes the 7th generation iPod nano of limited use for video. It's too dinky to watch anything longer than a few minutes on, and as there's no way to access quick fix video resources like YouTube here.
The new iPod nano does have one feature you don't get in Apple's other devices, though, an FM radio. It uses the headphone cable as an antenna, and lets you pause stations by using the internal memory as a buffer. Few media players offer this function.
Nike integration is the other key non-musical addition. Used in tandem with a £15 sensor, available separately, the iPod nano can monitor runs, calculating how far you've run or walked, supplying you with tunes on the way.
The clock function may come in handy too, but crucially there's no alarm clock here as the iPod nano doesn't have an internal speaker or a vibration motor. There is a countdown timer and stopwatch, though.
Other than these little extras, the iPod nano 7th generation is all about playing music - and podcasts/audiobooks, if that's your bag.
As with Apple's other products, sound quality in the 7th generation Apple iPod nano is respectable but not particularly note-worthy. Output is clean and has enough power to drive smaller headphones, but for mammoth high-impedance pairs you may need to use an amp.
There's the usual basic selection of EQ modes on tap too, with 22 on offer. Apple seems to have improved the quality of these in recent times, with a non-distorting bass boost, but the fidelity of control needed to please audio fans isn't really here. All the presets fiddle with the sound a bit too much, and you're best off leaving it on "flat" or "off" if you use remotely decent headphones.
The iPod nano 7th generation offers a volume limit - handy if you're looking to buy a nano for a child - and there's a sound check mode that normalises volume levels across tracks.
Unlike Sony branded players such as the Sony Walkman A845, Apple doesn't have any quirky features that automatically create mood-based playlists on the fly, but it does support Apple's Genius Mixes, created by iTunes.
Given the relative paucity of features and the many much lower-cost alternatives that are available, the iPod nano 7th generation does not seem particularly great value. However, to an extent it's a symptom of the stagnancy of the media player market.
Cowon keeps on trundling out models that feel as though they should have been released four years ago. Sony's players are at times barely indistinguishable from their predecessors. A change in design hasn't led to anything particularly note-worthy in the 7th generation iPod nano, but that doesn't change the truth that this is one of the nicest small players to use. The weakness of the word "nice" is telling, but then maybe not all of Apple's products need to be "magical".
The 2012 iPod nano 7th generation doesn't have the chops to make the same impact as a new iPod touch or iPhone 5. Its screen isn't great in some respects, it's a bit expensive and it doesn't do all that much. However, it's so much of a joy to use on a day-to-day basis that we can learn to accept most of its limitations. Strong design and Apple's excellent UI are enough to mitigate this partly underwhelming redesign.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality
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