Review In a hundred years' time, if there one object was to be chosen to represent the Western world of the early 21st Century, the iPod would be a strong contender. Once merely a music player it's become the 'must have' fashion accessory of the moment. And even with its ubiquity, there's no backlash yet in sight, writes Benny Har-Even.
Introducing the Mini was certainly a very smart move on Apple's part, and the player could be seen as the most important of the entire current iPod line-up. By moving from a 1.8in HDD to a 1in drive, Apple was able to shrink the already svelte iPod to an irresistibly cute, highly pocketable package. It opened up the iPod to a whole range of new listeners, such as girls and accountants, to whom having a tiny, cool looking MP3 player was far more important than being able to carry round their entire music collection.
The original Mini saw introduced the click wheel which integrated the four navigation buttons, later adopted by the fourth-generation iPod and the iPod Photo. While the original sported a 4GB hard disk, the Mini's competitors, such as Creative's Zen Micro and the iRiver H10, featured 5GB disks. Now Apple has hit back by leapfrogging them with a 6GB drive, only for Creative to respond again with a 6GB Zen Micro.
However, big news is how effectively Apple has dealt with the Mini's biggest failing: the feeble battery life. Thanks to a new, more efficient chipset from PortalPlayer, the Mini now boasts a very impressive claimed battery-life of 18 hours - a lot better than the eight hours of the original. This figure is based upon playback of 128Kbps AAC files, which is a lot more realistic than the 48Kbps figure used by Sony. Higher bit-rates will lower battery life due to increased CPU usage, but the figure is still very impressive.
The other change is that Apple retired the 'bling' Gold-coloured Mini, while changing the shade of the remaining colours. Our review sample is a rather lovely blue colour but you can also be silver, green and pink.