Apple iPod Nano (4th generation)

Apple has set the Nano back on track with the thinnest, lightest design yet, and has features that are hard to ignore.


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It's cheaper, it's thinner and it's available in a rainbow of metallic colours for AU$199 (8GB) or AU$279 (16GB). Ladies and gentlemen, this is Nano number four.

Design
Apple's most popular music player has undergone yet another extreme makeover. In contrast to last year's compacted design, the Nano has been stretched back to the candybar footprint of its first and second generations. That doesn't mean that specs have gone backwards, however. The size and resolution of the display is the same as the third-gen's version at two inches (5.1 centimetres) and 320x240 pixels, but it's been rotated 90 degrees to fit the form factor. The Nano is now a few hairs thinner at 6.2 millimetres, and almost 12 grams lighter at a feathery 37g. It's available in eight vibrant metallic colours in all three capacities — a refreshing change from previous generations which offered a limited colour range for each variety of player.

As with the new Touch, things have been smoothed out since last year. The Nano now sports an elliptical cross section, meaning the screen has a slightly curved glass overlay. This makes the display slightly more reflective than previous models, but it's not a big deal and shouldn't interfere with photo viewing or video watching.

Instead of sporting a reflective — and scratch-prone — back, the Nano is wrapped in one piece of brushed aluminium. It's a more practical design for those who chuck their players in a bag or pocket with a ring full of keys nestled up close.

The placement of the scrollwheel seems very low due to the height of the player and its vertical screen orientation. The combination of this and the thinness of the wheel can make your thumb feel a little squished and awkward when navigating through lists. On the plus side, the hold switch that got inexplicably relocated to the base of the third-gen player has been restored to its rightful location at the top left.

Features
The split-screen menu that debuted on last year's iPods was pretty-looking, but it also made the text feel cramped — and there was no way to turn the floating images off. For its fourth-gen Nano, Apple offers up a different version. Instead of being vertically bisected, the menu screen displays album covers and images in a strip at the bottom. If that's still too much for you, you can revert to a vanilla text menu by turning off the "Preview Panel" option in the main menu settings. The user friendliness continues with a new font size option, which enlarges all text in the menus.

Cover Flow browsing turned up in the last Nano release, but this time there's an accelerometer involved. Tilting the Nano 90 degrees brings on a parade of album covers organised by artist. Scroll through them speedily and the first letter of each is displayed beneath the whizzing images.

The accelerometer also allows for a rather gimmicky feature: shake to shuffle. As with Sony Ericsson's W910i phone, moving the Nano rapidly up and down causes a random track to surface from the depths of your audio library. As with the W910i, the attribute is cute but largely pointless.

Another software change is the addition of Genius, a playlist-creation feature introduced in iTunes 8. Choose the Genius option when a song is playing and the pixies in the circuit boards will assemble a list of 25 tunes that share the mood of the original. Genius works better on higher capacity Classics and Touches, where there are more songs to choose from, but it's relatively effective on the Nano as long as your tastes don't run to the very obscure.

As with the new Touch, the voice recording feature can't be used without investing AU$48 in Apple's new mic-equipped ear buds. This inclusion of accessory-dependent features can be viewed in two ways: either Apple is being a tease and forcing you to spend more money, or they're being considerate by keeping things simple and assuming that not everyone will want to record audio.

Performance
A perennial complaint about Apple music players has been that for a range that exhibits exemplary design and innovative interfaces, the same level of care is not shown in the sound quality — at least when heard through the bundled basic headphones. Though Steve Jobs acknowledged the grumbles and announced a new set of silicon-tipped ear buds at the iPod media event in September, the Nano ships with the same set of buds that accompanied last year's model. As a result, audio is akin to what we described in our last Nano review: a little humdrum and flat.

Video, on the other hand, looks fantastic. Footage is smooth, vibrant and immersive — well, as immersive as you can get on a 2-inch screen. Being able to view photos in landscape mode — they rotate automatically when you turn the player — cuts down on the "squinting at a postage stamp" factor.

The fourth-gen Nano is the friendliest one yet, with more customisation options, a smudge-free back and a wafer-thin yet sturdy construction. Those who dug its squarish predecessor may get a bit of a shock at the layout, but it's ultimately easier to use than the third-gen release.



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ManGLed CarroT posted a comment   

The Good:Design, Album Art, Ease of Use, Operate One-handed, Scroll Wheel, personalisation

The Bad:Battery Life, Shuffle

This little guy is my best friend. We go everywhere together. Completely reliable, looks hot, great screen, so many accessories available, lots of support for any problems.

If you can afford it, Apple's got to be the best for electronics. Everything is well-thought through...

...Except the battery life - the Nano 3rd gen has much better battery life - this one is shocking. At least it's quick and the screen is clear.

The shuffle is also quite bad as well - out of 1000 songs, songs from the same artists play within minutes of each other, and even the same songs.

But at the end of the day, it's great, and the positives far outweigh the negatives.
I only wish I could afford more apple products.

yazzz
9
Rating
 

yazzz posted a review   

The Good:everything, scrolling, cover flow

The Bad:genius

if u have ur ipod brigtness lower the battery lasts longer

yazzz
9
Rating
 

yazzz posted a review   

The Good:everything, scrolling, cover flow

The Bad:genius

if u have ur ipod brigtness lower the battery lasts longer

me
3
Rating
 

me posted a review   

The Good:easy to scroll and look for music. cover flow is good

The Bad:no radio grrrrrr!

its a nice shap and works well but it dont have any radio

 

best days of my life posted a comment   

The Good:lots of great colors, very light, accelermeter, sound quality; you can watch movies, music videos, & pics; play games, ipod uses I tunes, cheap cost, great screen images better then usual, great little mp3,

The Bad:battery life, genius, headphones, to many accesseries sold seperately

ipod nano 4th generation is the best one yet. there are a few probs. that i mentioned in the bad things^ but everything else seems to work pefectly thanks apple(=

 

best days of my life posted a comment   

The Good:lots of great colors, very light, accelermeter, sound quality; you can watch movies, music videos, & pics; play games, ipod uses I tunes, cheap cost, great screen images better then usual, great little mp3,

The Bad:battery life, genius, headphones, to many accesseries sold seperately

ipod nano 4th generation is the best one yet. there are a few probs. that i mentioned in the bad things^ but everything else seems to work pefectly thanks apple(=

 

obama619 posted a comment   

this ipod nano is the best its really fast you can stor alot of music and you can movies and store phtotos this nano is really good there not a big difference with 5th gen and 4th gen 5th gen only has a camera and radion and a pedometer thats it nothing else

 

AlphaTimberWolf posted a comment   

The Good:Video, screen image, sound, iTunes compatibility, song capacity, color (purple!), easy to use one-handed if necessary, love the games and extra features

The Bad:Short battery life, earbuds are crap, too many accessories sold separately for high prices

Overall this is a great product but I'm not at all satisfied with the battery life or how it has to charge via usb unless you purchase extra cables/chargers. For the price they're asking this thing should come with more charging options. The earbuds don't work unless you jiggle the plug around and get it just right which really sucks - I'm extremely displeased by this because it means I also have to buy decent earphones now.

Skwaab
8
Rating
 

Skwaab posted a review   

The Good:a great little MP3 player, amazingly sufficient memory, extremely lightweight.

The Bad:Earphones, battery life

A great ipod, handy for those on the go, however minor faluts include trippin out when hooked up onto Ext. such as Xbox's DAB's etc. regarding the earphones, yeah, dont bother buying replacements, get yourself some skull candies |;;


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User Reviews / Comments  Apple iPod Nano (4th generation)

  • ManGLed CarroT

    ManGLed CarroT

    "This little guy is my best friend. We go everywhere together. Completely reliable, looks hot, great screen, so many accessories available, lots of support for any problems.

    If you c..."

  • yazzz

    yazzz

    Rating9

    "if u have ur ipod brigtness lower the battery lasts longer"

  • yazzz

    yazzz

    Rating9

    "if u have ur ipod brigtness lower the battery lasts longer"

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