Consumer Reports: Apple’s new iPod screens scratch-prone like iPod nanos

“Just weeks after it introduced the incomparably tiny Nano, Apple has put its high-capacity players, too, on a crash diet. The slimmed-down 30- and 60-gigabyte iPods, $299 and $399 respectively, replace all other high-capacity iPods, which virtually owned the market for large-capacity music players,” reports Consumer Reports. “The new players are the first iPods with the capability to play videos. They also allow consumers to purchase music videos and TV shows off the Internet (using a new version of Apple’s iTunes software).”

“The video playback provides an intriguing and involving experience. But more important to many consumers is what the new iPods offer as music players: less bulk and more storage capacity for the buck than their predecessors,” reports Consumer Reports. “Our tests of the new 30-GB model did turn up some drawbacks. Among them is a durability problem that arose with some of the Nanos: a scratch-prone screen. In an informal test, we found the screen on the new iPod softer than the one on previous high-capacity iPods; we could easily scratch it with fingernails.”

“The new iPod is no better than competent as a video player, with limitations in display size and quality, and battery life… But it’s an engaging way to watch rock videos and the like. And when it comes to playing music, Apple has taken an already fine player and made it even better. We recommend the $299 30-GB iPod as the first choice for most people for a high-capacity MP3 player. If you have a very large music collection or want maximum battery life, consider the 60-GB version. And only those who need a player with a radio or voice recorder need turn to other brands, some of which offer models with those features and may cost a little less overall,” reports Consumer Reports.

Full article here.

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Try as we might, we can’t find these “scratch-prone” iPod nano or iPod screens. Every single one we’ve touched has a screen that seems identical in “scratch-ability” to previous iPod models like the 3rd and 4th generation iPod for example. Perhaps this whole screen scratch thing is a case of people looking very hard for something they’ve heard about and making it so? We can almost hear them in the test lab, “Hey, Mike, everybody’s talking about this ‘iPod scratches’ issue.” “Yes, Joe, we’ll have to take a good close look at the scratching issue and write about it in our iPod review.”

We feel that this whole “iPod scratches” issue has become more of a group-think psychology event than a physical reality. Loch Ness Monster? Bigfoot? Now, that’s not to say that some batch of “soft” screens aren’t out there somewhere, but we’ve simply seen no proof. iPod screens are not impervious to damage, just as no other portable device screens are indestructible; they never were. If you want your iPod to remain pristine, get a protective case for it as usual.

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Chicago Tribune: Apple’s new iPod is a showstopper – October 26, 2005
PC Magazine review gives Apple’s new video-capable iPod 5 out of 5 stars – October 21, 2005
CBS News: New iPod shows ‘Apple will continue to dominate portable digital media player market’ – October 21, 2005
Apple’s video-capable iPod and iTunes are first vital link in new distribution paradigm – October 21, 2005
USA Today: Apple’s new iPod + video: world’s foremost portable music players have gotten only better – October 20, 2005
Comprehensive review of Apple’s iPod 5G with Video – October 20, 2005
The Motley Fool: ‘Apple’s new video-enabled iPod is about to save the televised content industry’ – October 20, 2005
Ars Technica reviews Apple’s new video-capable iPod – October 20, 2005
NY Times Pogue: ‘watching video on new iPod’s 2.5-inch screen is completely immersive’ – October 19, 2005
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Apple iPods have always been far too scratchable, protective cases required to keep iPods pristine – September 30, 2005


  1. I don’t see the big deal here either. I wonder how these people carry there iPods. I never use my pockets and have always bought a case for my iPod and my wife’s. What is the big deal? There is no specified link or statement that Apple has ever made saying the iPod is scratch proof or industructable. Someone keeps pushing this story in favor of the lawyer who wants to get rich quick.

  2. Sorry, MDN, the screens scratch easily. Not a big deal when the screen is just there for scrolling to what you want to listen to, but a big pain in the ass when you are meant to watch videos on it.

    In comparison, the PSP, with pretty much the same look material for the facing of the machine is much tougher. I’ve carried it and my nano in the same backpack pouch and they have about the same amount of use–nano scratched like crazy, none on the PSP.

    Display iPods at the Apple Store already were showing signs of wear.

    Personally, I can’t understand the defense of Apple when there is a similar device, at a similar price, for use under similar circumstances, with basically the same facing that, at least from my experience, is much less prone to scratches from regular carrying around.

  3. the problem is that these people are expecting a nuclear blast proof ipod. there is nothing wrong with the ipod screen, its with the minds of these people that have nothing more to do with their lives but complain. When you buy a 300 dollar electronic item, it pays for you to treat it with care, not slide it around and rub the screen with your finger. Look at peoples cell phones, you can tell someone who takes care of it, from someone who doesnt very easily.

  4. When I got my first iPod (a 3G) I quickly discovered the screen and other parts did seem to acquire tiny scratches easily and quickly. I immediately bucked-up for a case to protect my precious toy. Problem solved.

    All this stupid press about the ease of scratching an iPod is such a waste of time. Get over it folks. Buy a freak’n case or be careful.

    Or do they want SJ to come carry their iPod for them?

  5. I have physically touched and inspected over 3,000 iPod nano and 5G iPod units as part of my job.

    The screens scratch the same as older model iPods. They are no more scratch-prone and no less. The screens are the same material on nanos and new 5G iPods and old 4G iPods.

    This whole issue is a canard. One that I believe has been planted by companies that Apple are steamrolling into the ground. This last ditch maneuver will fail, too.

    MDN’s also got it right: people are now looking hard for something they’ve heard about and creating an issue when, physically, the screen hardness remains the same. Group psych.

  6. I actually tried to scratch my 5G iPod with my fingernail. Other than a slightly greasy mark from my finger (easily wiped away) there is no physical change in the surface of the iPod.

  7. MDN: “We feel that this whole “iPod scratches” issue has become more of a group-think psychology event than a physical reality. Loch Ness Monster? Bigfoot?”

    As usual, MDN takes the Apple consumer is always wrong, Apple corporation is always right approach. Yes, MDN, we Apple consumers are total idiots that see scratches on our Nanos and know they are not really scratches; just delusions is our stupid little heads. MDN really thinks all us Apple consumers are stupid.

    And because the ipod and nano don´t scratch that´s why Apple will now be including a case with each new iPod and Nano – to protect against scratches that cannot and don´t happen.

    MDN: “…but we’ve simply seen no proof.”
    Great detective work Sherlock.

  8. As the owner of 7 iPods between my spouse and I, I have to agree with those that say the iPod’s screens (and finish) scratch too easily. But as MDN states, this is a problem that has affected iPods (except the mini) since day one. If anything comes out of all this negative publicity, I hope Apple makes improvements to the design to make them less scratch prone.

    iPods are so beautiful to hold and look at, that it’s a shame we have to hide them inside protective cases. I was devistated when I got my first iPod (the original 5GB model) and tried to remove some sticky substance from the surface with my fingernail and found that I had just given it a nice deep scratch. Obviously didn’t stop me from buying more iPods, but I certainly have been much more careful since that incident.

    My iPod nano got mildly scratched the first day I had it. I would have bought a nano tube to protect it, but unfortunately, they are nowhere to be found in the Toronto area even now, and third party cases still aren’t available in stores here.

    With all of this said, I do believe the class action lawsuit is total B.S., and will probably end up with the plaintiffs getting a refund for their iPod and not much else, but if it makes Apple improve the iPod’s durability, then we’ll all benefit from better designed iPods in the future. i think it’s probably a simple thing to fix on Apple’s part, they just need the incentive to do it.

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