Here’s the thing: you can’t really write a review of the new iPod nano. What is there to say? It is a small slab of aluminum with a multitouch screen that plays music files exactly as well as every iPod before it.
That is to say, it plays MP3 and AAC files extremely well. It also does a handful of other things, but all of them are secondary to playing back MP3 and AAC files, which, as I’ve mentioned, the iPod nano does really well. Hey, you can go through a ponderous syncing process and then look at photos on the iPod nano’s 2.5-inch screen! That’s cool, but really you’re going to use it to play MP3 and AAC files. Check it out — you can listen to podcasts! Guess what — they download as MP3 and AAC files. Maybe you’re super sporty and you’ll use it to track your workouts with the Nike+ feature? Sure, but it’s all terribly boring unless you have a collection of MP3 and AAC files to listen to while you run.
Files. Managing files. Endless files, in formats. Remember files? With file extensions? And sizes and bad metadata and missing cover art and all those weirdo checkboxes in iTunes that make compilation albums either go together or not go together or maybe make tracks appear in seemingly random order throughout your huge list of music files? Using the seventh-generation iPod nano in 2012 involves taking a trip back to a world in which files really matter. Files, man. Files in iTunes. You want to listen to music with an iPod nano? Then you better get ready to open iTunes and plug in a cable and transfer some hot nasty files. It’s like taking a time machine to 2010, before Apple itself started pushing everyone away from files and towards iCloud.
Forgive the long blockquote, but I thought it was a great bit of writing, and something worth thinking about.
Patel’s point is that the Nano — and the method used to get music on it — feels old compared to things like Spotify and iTunes Match. In large part, I agree with him. People are growing more and more comfortable with non-USB-based methods of syncing content, and the Nano sticks out like a sore thumb in this regard.
Plus, the do-it-all 4th-generation iPod touch can be had for just $50 more.
(That said, I do think people who workout with music still buy Nanos in droves, despite the touch controls.)
So, do other dedicated devices make sense in an iPhone world?
I have a Kindle Paperwhite for reading and a Canon S100 and taking photos. My iPhone (and iPad, for that matter) can be used for these tasks, but I use these dedicated devices because they do a better job than my iOS devices at these particular things.
I’m just not sure the Nano is better at playing music than an iOS device.