Yes, I have to admit, once in a while Apple will launch something I don’t want to lose my lunch over. In this case, it was the recent launch of the Ipod Nano. Packing 2GB or 4GB into a very small casing, it’s supposed to replace the Ipod Mini. Now the main reasons I like this new player are size and performance. Size well, that’s obvious. It’s very small for especially the 4GB version. The reason behind the large reduction in size is that it’s using solid state storage (flash storge) as opposed to mini harddrives as most players of the 4GB size use. Apple secured a very large and (relatively) cheap order of high density flash memory from Samsung. It has allowed the player to become very slim while maintaining decent battery life. Flash storage, having no actual moving parts brings down power consumption a great deal.
Performance should be improved as well. Flash storage is generally much quicker than hard disk based. Take RAM for example. They run along the lines of 50-200 nanoseconds access times while hard drives (desktop 7200RPM) are usually in the range of 10-13 milliseconds! That’s a huge difference. These MP3 players use slower hard drives than your regular desktop 7200RPM drives as well. Even with flash memory being quite a bit slower than RAM, it’s still significantly faster than a hard drive. So instead of waiting a few seconds when skipping around to random tracks, it should now be instantaneous. Now I’ve personally (obviously) haven’t used this Nano, but if it performs anything like the flash players out there now, it’ll be a great improvement on any micro hard drive based DAP.
But am I going to get one? The answer is still no. Well, if it’s so good, why wouldn’t I get one? Aside from the matter of price (I could get another 5GB Zen Micro for less than the cost of a 2GB Ipod Nano) its storage space is too little. I don’t understand how Apple intends on replacing the Ipod Mini line with the Nano. In terms of storage, it’s going backwards. Of course, Apple should be able to easily slip in another 2GB or even 4GB of flash and launch 6GB and 8GB players, but with the prices where they’re at now, I can hardly imagine what those would price at. Personally, I have the 5GB of my Zen Micro nearly filled to capacity. Even a 4GB Ipod Nano wouldn’t have enough room for my collection. Soon, the Zen Micro may not even be enough, but with 6GB players widely available and 8GB microdrive DAPs coming down the pipe, I should be okay.
So what do I say? A very nice move by Apple to go with flash, improving performance and decreasing size at the same time. However the step backwards in terms of storage space will keep people like me wanting.