iPod Nano (4th Generation)

Apple are back with a little more music for your pocket but this time something has changed: the iPod Nano has grown.

Every year, the engineers and marketing geniuses, the people in turtlenecks and those with high profile salaries found at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino manage to change something. That something might be one little thing as simple as a curve on a design, an upgrade of a CPU, or the way you think about listening to your music.

This year, Apple have changed their iPod Nano once again.

Currently in its fourth generation, the iPod Nano has been one of the more popular of the Apple iPod devices. Cheered for its size and design, the Nano has found buyers in those who didn’t wanted a feature-packed premium media player but didn’t want to lose the screen in the process.

Last year’s iPod Nano marked a change that would see it as one of the more popular iPod devices. A small softened slightly rectangular shape and a thin depth coupled with the ability to play movies would make the Nano a hit with consumers. It was, quite literally as the product motto decreed, “a little music for your pocket”.

But this design wasn’t enough for Apple for this year the iPod creators have released the fourth-generation model… and it’s grown.

Set in a remarkably thin casing, the new iPod Nano sports a look similar to its older generation. Tall and thin is the name of the game here and Apple have graced the model with a ovular smooth bevel that makes the unit feel natural in the hand. As the aluminium surfaces follows a curve around the Nano, you can see the inspiration to head down this path set forth by the MacBook Air.

Unlike the MacBook Air, the Nano comes in several colours increasing the original line-up and making it available to every buyer of the Nano, not just the ones willing to spend more money on more storage. This time around though there’s less reason to quibble as the memory inside has effectively doubled with the $199 4GB model increasing to an 8GB and the 8GB model now selling with 16GB inside.

It also comes complete with an accelerometer allowing you to rotate your Nano in every way but upside down to view movies and images the way they were meant to be viewed on the Nano. Also new is the Genius feature, an automated playlist function that – when activated – runs through songs similar to what you just played and creates a playlist from your likes & dislikes. There’s even a technical way to get the new Nano to run a text-to-speech utility for you, but it requires the use of iTunes 8.

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Even the operating system has had a slight change made to it with a feeling that it’s half way between the iPod Touch and the old iPod menu design.

But while somethings have changed, others have stayed the same. You’ve also still got your music, videos, and games supported with every part of the new Nano sounding just as good as it’s supposed to. Despite its taller yet thinner size, you still control it using the touch pad click wheel, the same system Apple have been using for a while now.

Basically, it’s still the same iPod Nano you’ve come to expect but now it feels even thinner and is easier to grasp. It seems enough people found that the squircle Nano from last year might have been just right for their pockets but too hard to handle. I personally liked it but I can see that this new Nano is just the right size.

I guess the real question is… where do Apple go from here? Whatever the answer is, the new iPod Nano is certainly a great mp3 player and well worth checking out.

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Product: iPod Nano

Vendor: Apple

RRP: From $199

Website: Apple iPod Nano

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark