The original 4GB iPod, launched in the year 2001, was a revolutionary product in the consumer electronics market. Two years down the line, with stupendous design improvements and a great marketing campaign, Apple has managed to make iPod the number one digital audio player in the market.  January 2004 marked the launch of the iPod mini – a tiny device capable of storing as many as songs as its predecessor, but in a smaller, lighter and more colourful form.

Synonymous with excellent design and good audio quality, the iPod brand, lets the 4GB Apple iPod Mini carry on the tradition. Its hard drive holds about 75 hours of music and has the same impressive graphic interface it’s elder sibling- the White iPod. The Scroll wheel has been improved to help navigate menus and music with a greater one handed ease. It is incredibly light and comes in 5 different colours and has a lower price tag than any other iPod product. It has features like the calendar, games and an option to create your own playlists. While it is not the best player in the market, it has a host of features, amazing design and great audio output. It is targeted towards consumers who want a flash memory based MP3 player and a lot of features for a reasonable price.

In the following review, we will discuss whether the iPod Mini is a viable choice to buy or not.

Apple iPod Mini MP3 Player Silver

Design:

Body:
The Apple iPod Mini’s design surpasses even its older photogenic sibling. The iPod Mini, at 3.6 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches, is larger than the Creative Nomad MuVo 2, but takes up lesser volume than any 4GB player. Weighing about 3.6 ounces, the mini feels like a small remote control and when slipped down in your pocket does not bother you with its presence.  It has a stylish anodized aluminium case, constructed by hollowing out Mini- aluminium tubes leaving it seem-less and painting the phone during anodisation process so that it cannot scratch off. It has a subtle and pleasant texture. The iPod is available in 5 colours: silver, gold, green, pink, and blue.

Display:
The mini’s display is smaller than a regular one – a 1.67 inches diagonal instead of the original 2 inches. However, the crispiness that the Mini provides makes up for the smaller size. The backlight lights up evenly and its brightness The Screen font used is no longer Chicago- the mini uses Espy. The Interface is similar to that of the regular iPod. In Brose Mode, one can see only the display song title and the artist name. Reasonable enough, thought we would have preferred more sophisticated display options-such as being able to alternate the artist’s name with the album title.

Keypad:
The iPod’s front button controls are reminiscent of the first 2 generation iPods. Below the display is a new scroll control with 4 push buttons embedded inside, saving a lot of space on the body.  Unlike the third generation iPods, the iPod mini’s click wheel cannot only be used to scroll through menus with great accuracy. Clicking on the mini a reliable tactile experience, press down too hard- and there is a risk of the mini misinterpreting a click as several together. The scroll wheel’s buttons double as “menu”,  ”rewind”, “forward” and “play/pause” buttons. The Click/Scroll wheel is much easier to use than the 3G iPods and allows you to perform complicated functions with great ease. This interface still has its limitations- the most obvious being, for navigating the interface involves scrolling from side to  side, neither the left or right button should be used. The top and the centre buttons are used instead. Confusing it might be, it does take some time to get used to.

On the top of the Apple iPod Mini is the hold switch, which locks all the functions, preventing accidental triggering of other controls. There is a headphone jack compatible with the iPod wire control. On the bottom is a dock port and is compatible with all other iPod dock products.

Accessories:

The iPod Mini MP3 Media Player is compatible with several independent add-ons with several new offerings, with most size-independent add-ons for the third-generation iPods. For example, the mini’s dock connector will fit any device designed to use the current iPods. An exposed slot at the bottom of the Mini attaches itself to a FireWire/USB b2.0 port or to a stereo. There is a belt clip included with a belt clip for listening to music on the go. Along with it, a pair of earphones and a dock connector is provided. The earphones provided are top-class and make listening to music simply even more enjoyable. There is an optional arm band and in-line remote available from Apple as well.

Set up and Installation of iPod Mini:

All you need to do to setup your iPod is make sure you have iTunes installed and plug in one end of your cables to your computer and the other onto the dock port on the bottom of the iPod Mini. iTunes will detect your iPod and ask you to provide a name for your device. Once named, the iPod can be synchronized with your music library. You can auto update iPod mini if you have lesser than 4 GB of music, otherwise you can manually fill your iPod by dragging and dropping tracks from your existing library.

iPod Mini Colours

Features:

Memory:
If you are looking for a flash memory based Mp3 Player, the iPod Mini is just the right thing.  The iPod Mini is available in 4 and 6GB capacities. That means about 1000 and 1600 songs (at 128kbps) respectively. If you have a small library of songs that you listen to, the 4GB model will suffice.

Charge and Sync using the Dock Connector:
When you sync the Mini to ITunes or later, the new playlist uploads to your PC/MAC and can be downloaded back to the Mini for later listening. The AutoSync Mode is another cool feature that sizes up your iPod’s storage space and creates a playlist that fits the capacity perfectly. That playlist would consist of songs one has rated highly or listened to more frequently. This is crucial as the 4GB Mini is smaller than most serious music collections. If you have already listed your favourite songs under iTunes, the first time you connect your iPod to the computer, all these songs get transferred to the Mini. To Charge your iPod, all you need to do is connect it your computer/laptop with the dock connector.

Menu:
There are several menus in the iPod Mini under the Main Menu. They are the Music Menu, Extras Menu, Settings Menu, and Now Playing Menu. There are the Backlight and the Shuffle Songs command along with them as well. Under the Music Menu are options that enable you to browse the details of songs on your iPod- playlists, artists, albums etc. There is an Audiobook option as well that enables you to listen to your favourite audiobooks. The Fore mentioned extras such as alarm clock, calendar etc are present under the Extra’s Menu. The Settings command enables you to configure various aspects of your iPod, such as, contrast, the clicker settings and the duration of backlight etc. The Now playing Menu appears only when you have selected a song to play. When chosen, it moves to the Now Playing Screen where the Song name, the Artists name, the Volume and other details can be accessed. There is a playlist function which lets you rate a song on a scale from 1 to 5 while it is playing. The Higher rated songs are played more frequently in the Shuffle mode.

Extras:
Along with the Mini, some pretty useful extras are provided. There is a alarm clock feature that allows you to play a song of your choice when connected to a stereo. There are 3 games included as well- Bricks, Parachute and Solitaire. The Music Quiz app tests you on how quick you can recognize songs from your collection. There is a contacts and calendar list as well, the latter can even sync with Outlook. There is an area provided to read text memos as well.

Audio Formats supported:
Sonically, the iPod Mini Flash MP3 Player is similar to the elder predecessor. In fact, one would hardly notice any difference in the audio between both of them. The iPod Mini supports the following formats- MP3, AAC/M4A, WAV, AIFF and Apple lossless. The spoken word Audible files can be purchased from the iTunes store. This software can resample songs to a certain bit rate, apply volume levelling and even digitally enhance songs while transferring them.

Performance:

The performance of the iPod Mini has improved to a certain level since the earlier version. The Interface is simpler and is easy to use. The Display is on the smaller side and yet nevertheless bright enough. All the functions can be accessed easily through the Menu.  The electronics responsible for sound reproduction used in the iPod are used in the Mini as well. Hence, one gets the same solid quality and loud maximum output. The earphones were good, but the Shure E3 c test headphones are better.

Transferring music is simple, the Go function allows us to sync with iTunes and the playlists can be downloaded. The Mini is compatible with USB 1.1 / USB 2.0 and FireWire connections. Over Fire Wire, songs transferred at 2.5 Mbps whereas on the USB 2.0, they synced at a whooping 6.3 Mbps.
Apple claims an anti skip protection of about 25minuted due to a 32 MB Flash buffer. However, like most hard drive based Mp3 players, the iPod is not suited for serious physical activity such as basketball etc. You can take it to the gym without worries; the optional armband would make it look even finer.

iPod Mini 2nd Generation MP3 Player

Battery Life:

The Apple iPod site claims that the battery of the iPod Mini 2nd Generation, when charged for 2-4 hours can last 18 whole hours on a single charge. This is just about the same as the Rio Carbon’s battery life and much better than the 12 hours the iPod. When tested, the iPod mini lasted 21 hours that is 3 hours more than what the site claimed. The Battery is non replaceable and lasts for a couple of years. If it goes kaput, you can purchase a new one from Apple.

Warranty:

The Apple iPod Mini 4GB, 6GB is covered under a warranty of one year from the date of purchase and any repairs can be done free of cost in the first 12 months.

Verdict:

Apple has designed the Mini keeping in mind people who want great features at a reasonable price.  The sleek new design, the user friendly interface, the amazing sound quality and the good battery life are amongst the top reasons for one to buy this. However, the Mini has its share of drawbacks as well. It lacks an FM Radio; there are no customizable EQs and a comparatively smaller display screen.  While these can be considered as Minor irritants and can be ignored. The lack of a replaceable battery is a serious flaw and will probably have an impact on the sales of the Mini as well.  One can neither download games to it either. However, it is a more improved version of the original iPod and works fine without many complaints. If you are a casual music lover and have a small library of songs, then the Apple iPod Mini 4GB is definitely a must buy.

Check the latest Apple iPod Touch Third Generation Review in our website.

Manufacturer Apple
Model Name iPod Mini
Generation Second
Dimensions (H x W x D) 2 in x 0.5 in x 3.6 in
Weight 3.7 oz
Available Colours Silver, Gold, Blue, Pink and Green
Display size 1.67″ diagonal
Display type Black and white
Capacities available 4GB, 6GB
Holding capacity 4GB: 1000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format
6GB: 1500 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format
Storage type USB flash drive
Legibility of the menus Easy to read and Espy font is used
Display adjustments Contrast and backlight settings
Resolution 138×110
Audio formats supported MP3, AAC/M4A, WAV, AIFF and Apple loseless.
Navigation Click wheel
Display Menu Language Dutch, Danish, French, German, Korean, English, Finnish,
Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Norwegian,
Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional)
Sound output mode Stereo
Additional Features Notes , Calendar, Phone book, Hold button, Built-in games,
Upgradeable firmware, Rechargeable capability,
Basttery level indication
Video Playback support No
Battery life 21.1 hours
Charge time Fast-charge time: about 2 hours
Full-charge time: about 4.5 hours
Box contents iPod Mini
Earphones
USB 2.0 cable
Dock adapter
Quick Start guide
Warranty One year standard warranty for parts and labour