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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New iPods … iWant

Published: September 17, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

September has meant one thing to the rabid fans of Apple’s tech gizmos: new iPods. During the past couple years I’ve made sure to check out new technologies in the MP3 world and to keep track of new MP3 gadgets. These last few years have been a bit of a drag, in fact, current versions of the original iPod are physically inferior to older versions. The nanos have had minor changes and shuffles have changed shape. While these have had the added feature or two, they have consistently lacked enough to convince me to upgrade from my older iPod to one of the newer ones; but this year is different. This September has finally signaled a fundamental change in Apple’s lineup.

The iPod Touch, certainly Apple’s flagship edition since its creation in 2007, has undergone some of the coolest changes of all. Not only is it smaller, but it now has cameras—notice the plural. The new iPods have TWO cameras. One is on the back and can record video in high definition and the other is on the front for Facetime video calls. You can now Skype with a device that fits in your pocket and that doesn’t require an AT&T contract like the iPhone.

The iPod nano has now been reinvented into a smaller iPod touch. Apple has removed the video camera and microphone, and reduced screen size, but in exchange it offers greater portability. Think of it as an iPod shuffle with a touch screen and the ability to actually choose what you listen to.

The iPod shuffle has returned to its second shape. It’s not a plastic u.s.b. stick or a tiny aluminum stick. It’s an aluminum square with controls on the front and a clip on the back. Apple, it seems, has learned that their customers don’t want to have to use controls on their headphones to switch songs or raise or lower volume, they want buttons or a touch screen on the device itself. This is an achievement. Apple has listened to critics rather than just ignoring them like they did with the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco in which the current iPhone, when held in certain ways, loses reception.

Apple has also release the tenth edition of their famous iTunes software. It’s still the iTunes we know and love but with a slightly shinier interface and a social networking aspect called Ping.

Apple has taken some great steps forward with their newest generation of iPods. The touch could very well kill non-iPhone cell phones with its video-calling feature (that only requires wifi, which we get free from the school). The nano brings touch technology to us all at a lower price but at the cost of features that were steps forward a year ago, while the shuffle also takes a step back—back in the right direction.