A New Ipod Nano – Portable Music Has Come a Long Way

As a longtime PC user, and someone who generally tries to avoid overpriced items, I’ve never personally owned an Apple product.  I have given them as gifts, but for myself either the price was always too high, there was a feature missing that I wanted, or simply my prejudice against Apple kept me away.  As much as I hated their philosophy of locking down products so they couldn’t freely be modified, somehow the fact that Steve Jobs was no longer with us made me think of all the good that Apple has done for the technology world, especially in portable music players.  In some part, maybe this helped convince me that it was OK to own one of their products.

About a week ago, I purchased an Ipod Nano for my personal use.  Although I really considered the Ipod touch with it’s other nice features, it seems that as a music player only the Nano was the right choice.  If they had put a GPS in one that would have probably pushed me over the edge, but you can’t ask for everything, and Apple probably wants to distinguish it from the Iphone. It came via Fed-Ex nicely engraved in a box that was around 2″ per side.  This made me think of how far we’ve come since I’ve started using a computer around 20 years ago.  According to Apple, the dimensions of the device itself are: 1.48″ x 1.61″ x .35″ or .834 cubic inches (not accounting for rounded edges).

Flashback 15 years ago or so and the CD was the preferred method of music listening.  Not a bad format for it’s time (a huge jump really), but things have really changed for the better.

A CD-ROMs dimensions are: 15mm id, 120mm external diameter, and 1.1 mm thick ==> doing the conversion and inlcuding the ID (as it’s pretty much dead space anyway)  the volume of this is .76 cubic inches.  So the size of this device is just slightly bigger than the medium that not to long ago was the standard for playing about 15 songs.  The Nano, on the other hand, can hold somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 songs, or 133 times what a typical music CD would hold.

Not to mention that you need something to play it with.  Estimating the size of a Portable CD player to be around 4″ x 4″ x 1″, this gives a volume of 16 cubic inches.  Or around 19 times the volume of a 6th generation Ipod Nano.  Factor in the fact that it holds 133 times the amount of music of a typical CD, and you come up with a song-playing ability of 2500 times that of a CD player or .000417 cubic inches/song (A CD player is about 1.07 cubic inches/song)!  It’s a strange unit – maybe not something you’ve thought of before.

For an even crazier – if not totally apples-to-apples – comparison, think about the computer circa 1990 with around 100 MB of HDD space (Or a record player!).  Considering this device can hold 80 times the information that could only 20 years later be held by a device roughly the size of a 50 cent piece is incredible.  Not to mention that computers back then couldn’t even come close to the power needed to decode an MP3 compressed file if they had existed at the time.

In addition to this incredibly increased capacity, the Nano has a far better interface system than a CD player, can hold pictures, and has an accelerometer and an FM tuner that can actually rewind what you’re listening to.  Also, one can jog or ride in a car with it without it skipping (remember that?).  So obviously we have nothing to complain about with this device as a music player.  Seriously, this is an impressive little device.

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That being said, I do have some ideas for the Nano.  No one asked for my advice, and I’m not a software or computer engineer, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.  Even with all it does though, I feel like it’s not quite living up to all it could be.  This article is already getting lengthy though, so you’ll have to check out the next post on improvements to the Nano to see my ideas.  Maybe Tim Cook is a reader of this blog considering we share a last name.

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