Farewell fatty. Yup, Nano 3G – AKA the iPod Classic Mini-Me – is no more. This fourth incarnation is slimmer and taller than its forebear. Indeed, with the demise of the mildly chunky 160GB Classic, heavy-boned Apple staff must surely be shifting uncomfortably in their straining office chairs.

Available also, for an extra £40, in a 16GB capacity, the new Nano comes in a choice of nine colours, including the Apple Store ‘Red’ exclusive. The bundled buds are the same as the previous design – so, you already know you should upgrade them.

Any Side Story

A further stalwart from Nano 3G is the 2in, 320x240 display. The key behind maintaining this screen size, yet trimming the chassis, is this latest model’s ability to deliver video while ‘lying on its side’.

Caressed to the horizontal, video delivery is colourful and sharp, though the arched screen – the edges of this unit are bevelled, which leads to four fairly sharp corners – attracts some reflection. The widescreen works for Cover Flow, too, making space for seven album covers at a time.

Who said ‘Orwellian’?

A bonus of any iPod, of course, is iTunes compatibility, the world’s most advanced media manager and biggest online music store. But, with this Nano you can only use the space-hungry iTunes 8, which is (tediously) typical of Apple’s recent ‘our way or the highway’ approach.

Another example of Apple’s Big Brother streak is its Genius feature: similar to Last FM, Genius selects songs in your Nano’s library that – according to Apple – relate to each other. To enable Genius, though, you must switch it on via iTunes – at the same time agreeing to Apple receiving details of your listening habits. Apple does claim your personal details remain anonymous, though there’s always a nagging doubt.

A Firm Handshake

Free from prying eyes, though, is the new Shuffle option. Give your Nano a shake and before you can say ‘lamb’s tail’ it selects a fresh tune. This acrobatic ability also works with games where you can tilt and shift. Nice move Steve.

It seems sagacious to mention that, in addition to messing with its feature list, most of us will simply use the Nano to play some music. Sound quality improves with file quality, but delivery is always full of get up and go. This energetic sound is the ideal soundtrack to some sweaty gym action, but – as ever with our Californian buddies – the bundled buds let down the rest of the package.

See You Later Bud

Switch the Apple ‘phones to even just twenty pounds worth of the likes of Sennheisers, and the slightly edgy treble eases, while bass firms up and fills out. Canal fitting buds also offer superior fit and noise cancelling to the Apple numbers. Those not upgrading can improve matters via the Nano’s – or iTunes’ – EQ settings.   

At this money, if sound quality is your ultimate condition, Sony’s NWZ range and Creative’s Zen beat the Nano. But, none of its price rivals offer the feature count or the software backup of the latest Apple. So, as Morrissey never said, ‘You’re the one for us, slimmy’. 


Stuff says... 

Apple iPod Nano 4G review

With a slimmed chassis and a boosted feature list, what’s not to like? Apple’s arm-twisting, that’s what