Hands on: New Apple iPods plus pictures

OK, so it wasn't the most immense launch ever, but Apple is always of interest. We got to see its new wares first hand at an exclusive VIP launch event this evening.

PICTURES: We've got a full slideshow of the new kit here (be warned, it doesn't open in a new window).

So what do we think? The launch itself was pretty underwhelming, with all products offering incremental improvements over what has gone before. But that's life for the humble iPod in the post-iPhone world.

The iPod nano does, however, impress. It's oval-shaped and looks very sleek, almost too sleek. Weight-wise it's like a feather and you'll easily lose it in your pocket. It is a mini marvel though, with a very impressive little screen and cover flow. However, it's not something you'll be buying your folks for Christmas; they'll never be able to see the screen. The 16GB version does have some incredible technology at work though – a fantastic media player.

The addition of the middle-button menu for Genius and on-the-go playlists is interesting, if slightly superflous to most needs. Genius is interesting because it's Apple, but of course it's not something new. Last.fm, iLike, The Filter – all offer similar services.

"The iPod nano is clearly a mature and feature-rich product. But all those features come at the expense of simplicity," says MacFormat's Chris Phin. "The once-simple menu system is beginning to creak a little bit. Still the new colours are cute.

Chris has rather hit the nail on the head there. Like other manufacturers, Apple is now struggling to keep up with the constant need for change. The problem is, by adding new features to its interface, it's risking losing the thing the iPod was famed for – simplicity.

iPod touch

The iPod touch is now a fully-fledged iPod. Interestingly, the new thinner shape makes it seem more like a native iPod than a watered-down iPhone. And 32GB is certainly taking it where flash needs to be. Flash prices remain high, and we believe it will be some time yet before Apple can announce a full range of Flash-based players.

The new games offered are impressive. Need for Speed, Spore – all big names – and the iPhone/touch is a very interesting little handheld gaming device.

"The theme here is evolution rather than revolution," says Phin. "But as an iPhone owner, I'm more excited about Friday's release of the 2.1 firmware for the iPhone; better stability and battery life, not to mention a shorter backing up process. They're the killer features for me." Indeed, the iPhone firmware update did seem to be one of the more eagerly-awaited bits of news by the press, but Jobs gave it short shrift.

iTunes itself looks better though and we hope the slightly tweaked interface also leads to performance improvements.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.