capsule review

Apple IPod Mini 6GB

At a Glance
  • Apple iPod mini (6GB Second Generation)

    TechHive Rating

Apple IPod Mini
Photograph: Courtesy of Apple

With its streamlined, colorful 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. And the enhanced Mini still sells for $250, the same price its predecessor commanded.

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 costs you $99.

The new model bumps up its storage space from 4GB to 6GB. (The 4GB model is still available, for $50 less.) The extra 2GB provides just enough of a boost in capacity to keep the Mini competitive, since Creative's Zen Micro comes in 5GB and 6GB versions. Apple reports that you can pack about 1500 songs (in 128-KBps 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.

Cosmetically, the changes to the Mini are minor. You now have a choice of only four colors (blue, pink, green, or silver; gold was retired), and the colors are bolder and richer than before. The Mini's dimensions remain the same (3.6 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches), and it still weighs 3.6 ounces); 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 customization and context-specific navigation that the Zen Micro offers, we found a lot to like about the Mini's organization. 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. Absent are the formerly bundled FireWire cable and AC adapter, which now sell as options for $19 and $29, respectively. But you don't need them, since you can connect and recharge 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 gripe about the Mini relates to the unit's imprecise power gauge. The Mini played trouble-free for several hours on a??empty,a?? for example. We'd have liked a more accurate predictor of when the unit was on the verge of conking out.

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.

Melissa J. Perenson

This story, "Apple IPod Mini 6GB" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    This slimmed-down iPod features 4GB or 6GB or of storage (enough for 1,000 or 1500 songs, respectively) and an anodized aluminum case in four fashion colors (three of which have deepended their hues from first-generation models).

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