Apple iPod mini
- Extra capacity over earlier model, easy song navigation
- Lacks microphone, imprecise power gauge
Slick looks coupled with improved battery life and the iPod's signature ease of use make this player an excellent bet; but beware of add-on costs for such basics as the FireWire cable.
Price$ 359.00 (AUD)
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With its streamlined, colourful design and easy-to-use click wheel, Apple's original iPod mini established itself as a head turner. The second-generation, 6GB mini upholds the tradition--except this time, you'll be wowed not just by the mini's looks, but by its exceptional battery life.
In our hands-on tests, we found that the iPod mini could operate for about 23.5 hours of continuous play after a battery charge. That's nearly twice the playing time we got from the first-generation mini. As with other iPods, the battery remains securely locked inside the device. Apple will replace the battery at no charge if it fails while under warranty; otherwise, a new one will cost you.
The new model bumps up its storage space from 4GB to 6GB. Apple reports that you can pack about 1500 songs (in 128Kbps AAC format) onto the 6GB device; that's enough space to hold dozens of music albums but not enough to accommodate a truly gargantuan CD collection.
You have a choice of four colours (blue, pink, green or silver), and the colors are bolder and richer than before. The mini's dimensions remain the same, and it still weighs 102 grams. Likewise, the mini's monochrome screen, intuitive click-wheel navigation system, and famously seamless integration with Apple's iTunes software haven't changed.
We found the mini exceptionally easy to use. Though we missed the menu customisation and context-specific navigation that the products like the Creative Zen Micro offer, we found a lot to like about the mini's organisation. In particular we appreciated the precision of the mini's click wheel, which made navigating by touch easier than on the Micro.
This version of the mini comes with only a belt clip, earbud earphones and a USB 2.0 cable. You can connect and recharge the mini's battery via the USB cable.
Like competing players, the mini has a host of other useful features and capabilities, including an alarm clock and timer, games, a contact manager and a datebook. Regrettably, it lacks a built-in microphone, which would be convenient for taking memos or making impromptu recordings on the go. (The optional Griffin Technology voice recorder designed as an add-on for other iPods does not work with the mini.)
Our biggest problem with the mini was its imprecise power gauge. The mini played trouble-free for several hours on "empty", for example. We'd have liked a more accurate predictor of when the unit was on the verge of conking out.
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