Saturday, December 20, 2008

Give Your Geek A Cool Yule With A New Nano Or Touch

This year’s crop of iPods have all been tweaked up a bit, especially the 4th gen Nano and the 2nd gen Touch, and either one would be a great gift choice for that discerning geek on your Christmas list.

The Nano has been redesigned, again. It’s gone back to (roughly) its original size and shape, but with a few new curves. It’s also got a longer screen coupled with an accelerometer chip that allows you to flip it sideways and view it in wide screen mode. The chip also makes it possible to shuffle your music with a shake of your hand, and control game play with a simple tilt of the device. Too cool!

Once again, Apple has doubled the memory of the Nano, this time to 8 and 16GB, while retaining the same price points, $149 and $199, and introduced yet another palette full of weird and wonderful colors.

The new 2nd gen Touch has undergone a few changes also. It’s my personal favorite, and by far and away the slickest personal media device on the market this holiday season. It’s still a bit pricey, but if you’re looking for a gift with wow factor, this is the one. Billed as “The funnest iPod ever” by Apple, it lives up to that claim and more.

From a design standpoint, the biggest change is that it’s grown external volume controls and an internal speaker, and yet gotten even sleeker than the previous model. Add in improved video, ultra responsive touch screen, push email, and the availability of a dazzling array of applications, and you’ve got quite the package.

From a pure media player standpoint, the audio and video on the 2nd gen are excellent, but this device is as much a handheld computer as it is a traditional MP3 player. The WiFi has outstanding range and response time, and the device is loaded with useful apps right out of the box. Google an actor while you’re watching a movie, find out what channel the big game is on while you’re parked on the couch, look up a recipe on the web while you’re cooking, or check and respond to your email without having to boot up, pay for a monthly plan, or worry about running down your cell phone. How sweet is that?

The add-on apps are pretty amazing also. Download Shazam, and you can hold the player up to another music source and it will identify the music being played and retrieve it from iTunes Mobil, or store the info until you’re in WiFi range, or until your next sync. Stream Internet radio with the Pandora app, or grab a game that takes advantage of the accelerometer like Labyrinth or Super Monkey Ball.

The Touch comes in 8, 16 or 32GB models. Its OS takes up about 1.5GB, so if you have a large media library and plan on downloading a lot of apps, you’ll want the 16 at least.

Check out the video review here on Cnet, and be sure to forward the link to Santa!

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