The iPod Mini sounds fantastic. After comparing it with my third-generation iPod, tracks definitely sounded clearer on the iPod Mini, as if it were capable of better frequency response. By comparison the 3G iPod sounded positively muffled. A sign of PortalPlayer's enhanced audio chip, perhaps.
The Mini's packaging is as lovely as ever. The box lid slides off to reveal the mini wrapped in plastic. The box underneath is split in two halves - one for the install discs and one for the headphones, USB cable and a belt holster. As with all the new iPods there's no Firewire cable, no dock, no remote - but they are available as optional extras. There's no AC adaptor either, so you can only charge when connected to the PC.
There are other missing features that might give pause for thought, such as a radio, recording function and microphone. But if it's just a player you want these absences won't be noticed. For me the only reason I wouldn't want one is that I do want to carry my entire music collection around with me. Or at least more of it than I could fit on a 6GB drive.
The good news is that Apple is still offering a 4GB version, with all the benefits of extended battery life, at an affordable £139/$199. So if your main aim in owning a Mini is to look trendy, the cheaper 4GB version could be the way to go.
One day of course, a 20GB iPod will be this size, but for now six gigs is your limit. At this capacity it no longer loses out to the Zen Micro and H10, but while Creative and iRiver have both worked hard on improving the look and usability of their players, the Mini is still miles ahead. With its rounded sides and neat click-wheel interface, it feels right in you hand and is easy to control and use too.
With the iPod Mini, Apple has increased its capacity by a 50 per cent, battery-life by one-and-a-quarter times and improved sound quality. It's a pretty impressive triple whammy and as long as its capacity is large enough for you, the iPod Mini would be our recommended digital audio player. If you can pick one of these up from eBay for under £140 6gb/£100 4gb you have a very good item on your hands, just remember not to listen to your Ipod while your working! :)