Product Type: Apple MP3 players
Newest Review: ... wish to change track or album in a dark area. However this will drain the battery faster The click-wheel for me is great it's simple with... more
Bye Bye Battery
Apple iPod mini 4 GB
Member Name: Recon
Apple iPod mini 4 GB
Advantages: Ease of use, Compatible, Looks pretty nice
Disadvantages: Badly made, Terrible battery, Bad earphones, A pain to switch off
In August 2005, I became a proud owner of an iPod mini. Now, things have changed, and I don't have such a great impression of what used to be one of the latest gadgets around. It all started with the standard iPod. Now, it looks like a chunky brick. Many people began to buy the new iPod mini, and soon after I received one for my 2005 birthday. It was great at the time, and still does its job, but since then I have had to have mine replaced... for a high price. They aren't made as well as you could expect, and the iPod mini has to be one of the oldest ones on the market now. With the latest iPod touch having being released, the iPod mini looks ancient in comparison.
How old is it?
It was announced for release on January 6th, 2004. It was then released on February 20th the same year, so I actually got mine really late. On September 7th 2005, just after I finally got an iPod mini, the iPod nano filled the shops. Being half the size, this became increasingly popular. Now, all of the variations of the nano have been released, such as the video and limited edition versions. The bigger sized original iPod through time, has transformed to an iPod video and of course the latest iPod touch, making the iPod mini one of the oldest iPods on the market. There are actually two generations of iPod minis. The second generation of iPod minis had improved battery, were available in more vivid colours, and could be purchased with the 6GB size.
What does it look like?
Well, lets start with the box. It comes in a really lovely box. A package slides out the outer case, which opens up like a book. Here, you will find your iPod well-wrapped in a plastic bag with insulation either side to prevent damage. Either side of the spine, there are two compartments that open via the top. They are simply labelled, one with a picture of a disc, the other with a picture of headphones and a USB logo. The disc compartment contains an instruction manual along with the installation disc, with a couple of Apple stickers thrown in too. The other compartment contains your earphones, and charger wire. The earphones come complete with ear muffs to cover them, but these make them increasingly big and uncomfortable when in your ear. Due to this, I just use them as standard without any ear muffs.
The iPod mini is much smaller than the original iPod, coming in at 3.6 by 2 inches, with a depth of 0.5 inch. They weigh just 102 grams, and are available in the following colours: silver, gold, pink, blue, and green. I am pretty happy with my silver colour, as it looks the most modern and looks cool with the white touch wheel. The screen itself is a 1.67 inch display, which is a monochrome LCD. Below the screen is the touch wheel. It is circular with a button in the middle, also known as the select button. To the right of the outer wheel is the fast forward button, to the left is the rewind button. At the bottom is the pause and play button, and the top button is the menu button. The wheel itself is touch sensitive, so you simply move your finger lightly over it, and it will scroll through menus, or can be used to adjust the volume of your music. I found that after a lot of use, the wheel becomes decreasingly sensitive, so you may need to carefully wash it with a slightly damp cloth to improve the sensitivity.
At the top of the iPod is the headphones input. To the right side, you can input any standard headphones/earphones. The iPod itself comes with a pair of earphones, which are the official Apple ones. On the opposite side on top, you will find the 'Hold' switch. This is very useful to lock your iPod when listening to music, just like when you lock a phone in your pocket. This prevents any touch of the wheel, or buttons pressed from actually controlling the iPod. When the bright orange part is showing, it is on hold. As you switch it the other way, a white part will be showing meaning that it is unlocked, so you can control it as you wish. The bottom of the iPod has the charger hole situated on it. Simply plug in the charger (which comes with the iPod), plug this into a USB port (for example, a computer or console with USB inputs), and it will connect and begin to charge. Be careful when disconnecting. You must do this safely, by safely removing the device from the USB port, or it may damage your iPod or music. On the back of the iPod, you will find your serial number, along with size of the hardrive (4GB or 6GB). You can also choose to have it engraved with a message, such as your name or a similar message from your partner.
Overall, the look is pretty cool. It looks modern, despite being a few years old, and is small enough to fit into your pocket or a small handbag. The screen is a good enough size, as all it displays is your album lists, song lists and all the rest. There are a few simple games on it, which suit the screen size just fine.
What features does it have?
The iPod is obviously known as an MP3 player. Being rather old, the iPod mini doesn't have many of the latest features that you will find on the iPod touch for example. In fact, it is nothing like the iPod touch. You can put on around 1000 songs of average length on the 4GB version. On the 6GB version, you can have another 500. This is a very large amount, considering you can always delete the older songs, or the ones you are not so fond of anymore to make room for the new.
As well as playing music, you can play some games on your iPod too when you get bored. You can do this whilst still listening to music, but you cannot fully control the music whilst playing, you can only pause and play and skip songs. The four games that you can play are: Brick, Parachute, Music Game and Solitaire. The solitaire game is quite obviously the classic card game, which I still don't know how to play. The Music game is the more original game. It will play a song from your songs on your iPod, and there will be four options from you to choose as to what song it is playing. The score will count down at a very fast rate, so the quicker you give the correct answer, the more points you get. As the score decreases as time goes on for each question, one by one, the songs will slowly disappear until you are left with a 50-50 choice...just like who wants to be a millionaire! Then, we have the Parachute game. This is quite a fun game, probably my favourite. You are in control of a cannon that fires pixels. Helicopters fly by in the sky, and drop down men. You have to prevent these parachuting men from blowing up your cannon, by killing as many as you can and stopping them from landing safely. You get more points for blowing up helicopters, and one point for killing a parachutist. Each time you fire a bullet, you lose a point, so don't waste your ammo! Last but not least, we have the classic Brick game. You are able to move a platform left and right to keep the ball on the screen. There are a bunch of bricks up top, which disappear when the ball hits them. As you progress through the levels, it adds more and more layers to the bricks. You get points for destroying bricks.
There are many options that you can configure. You can choose whether you want to shuffle or repeat songs or playlists, as well as set a timer for the backlight timer. This brightens up the screen very well, so you can use it in the dark too. You can also choose an appropriate 'EQ', depending on the type of music you mostly listen too. Scroll through the different types such as 'Dance', 'Rock' and 'Pop', and they will automatically adjust the sound of your music to make it best for the type of song it is. For example, you can choose 'Vocal Booster' and it will make the vocals of the song much clearer. You can also choose 'Bass Booster', which will put an emphasis on the bass. You can also adjust the contrast, change the language, and configure the date and time. You can choose whether to display the time at the top of the menu when using the iPod, which I found is really useful. If you suddenly start speaking Japanese, head to 'Language' to appropriately change the language. There is also an option to reset all settings back to the default ones. The iPod has a 'clicker', which simply makes a clicking noise as you scroll through menus, and select options. You can choose whether you want this to be on at all, heard through the headphones, heard through the speaker or heard through both. Don't get the idea that it has a speaker though, it just has a small hole where the clicker sound can come out.
In the extras, you can also view contact details, the Calendar and Notes. These sections are easily compatible with Macs, as you can transfer your appointment dates, information and notes from your Mac applications such as iCal to your iPod. This is also the place where you will find the games.
Is it easy to use?
You may think it sounds all complicated and hard, but it actually is really easy to use. The clicker wheel is very useful, which allows you to scroll slowly or quickly through menus at the touch of your fingertips. The buttons on the wheel work well too. The menus are really easy to navigate around, for example in the Music section you will find 'Songs', 'Playlists', 'Artists', 'Albums', 'Podcasts', 'Genres' and 'Audiobooks' so you can easily and quickly navigate where you want. The battery symbol is located at the top of the screen in all menus, along with the time and date if you choose it to be displayed here. As the battery runs out, the battery bar will go down. It works really well, and the menus are all pretty easy to find yourself around.
How much does it cost?
When I got mine, I believe it was on the market for £140, and I got a free engravement with it. They are much harder to get now, as they are pretty old. You can buy them on eBay from around £70 to over £100. Many shops have limited stock of the iPod mini, so they are hard to get nowdays.
The good thing about the iPod is that it is compatible with both PCs and Macs. You must have iTunes on your computer, but this is free for download on the internet on the apple.com site. It can be used with the following operating systems:
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Apple MacOS X 10.1.5 or later, Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4
I am not very pleased with my iPod due to several things, and that is why it gets a low rating from me. Here's why:
* The battery is terrible. It seems to drain down without even using it, and when you do use it, it drains down even faster. The battery indication always lies, and isn't very accurate. It could say it's half full, then an hour later the iPod switches off, having run out of battery.
* The battery life actually runs out, meaning your iPod will have to be replaced, at a really high price of £70! If you fully charge your iPod each time you use it, you will get a good 400 cycle uses with it. If you fully charge your iPod and use half of the battery before charging again, you will get 800 cycle uses out of it. After this, it will need to be sent off to Apple to be replaced.
* My iPod just broke anyway... It started messing up, as one day it kept freezing when I was trying to skip songs. Then, it suddenly worked again and skipped about 10 songs at once. It then just froze. I reset it, by holding down the centre button and play/pause button for 10 seconds. After it switching back on, it deleted every single song as well as reset all the settings! It was not supposed to do this, and never did it when it froze before. I got home to find that it was simply broken, as restoring it and doing everything I could didn't get it to work. That's another problem in itself - it freezes often.
* Switching it off is a pain. You have to hold the play/pause button down for a good few seconds to switch it off, then you have to switch the hold button on at the top, so the buttons won't switch it back on again if pressed by accident in your pocket.
* The earphones that come with it are terrible. It is hard to get good earphones, unless you want to be seen with big headphones of top quality, which insulate all the sound and give out top quality sound. However, the earphones that come with the iPod really are bad. They are like speakers in the way you can hear the music from a distance if listening to it in a library or a silent place. Each earphone has small holes, which are probably secret little speakers. My earphones have also broken. The connecting plug that fixes into the iPod has a thicker rubber bit than the wire itself, which is supposed to be strong. My rubber bit has snapped, exposing the bare wire itself. I doubt it is dangerous, but it doesn't look attractive, and is sure to break soon. Surprisingly, it has been going for a while, even having been bent round the iPod as I wrap the earphones round it to put it in my pocket. The connecting bit could be made stronger in future earphones with plastic there instead of weak rubber. My earphones have now begun to give a crackling noise when I listen to music, so they are finally breaking.
* The actual top of my iPod, which is made of plastic started to break. This was where the earphones are plugged in and where the hold button is. It broke, and popped up out of line from the iPod, creating a gap. This is probably why mine broke, as it was exposed to dust particles that could get in and mess it up. This just proves that it is badly made.
That's a lot of disadvantages, and that is why I am not very fond of my old iPod. I wouldn't recommend anyone to get this, as there are better and newer ones out there these days.
My Final Verdict
Don't buy one. It's as simple as this. It will just break in a matter of months, and you will have to pay around £70 to get it fixed. It looks cool, works well and does the job, but there are much better MP3s out there today, which are worth buying, unlike this.
Thanks for reading and rating. Comments are appreciated.
- Recon -
Summary: The iPod mini is old and dying. There are better MP3 players on the market now.
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