First impressions of the new iPod nano, touch and iTunes 8

Today's Apple announcement was a bit of a damp squib because every product that Steve Jobs unveiled had already been leaked - save for the cheaper 120

Today's Apple announcement was a bit of a damp squib because every product that Steve Jobs unveiled had already been leaked - save for the cheaper 120GB iPod Classic (£179).

However, having just had a whistlestop tour of the freshly announced iPods, it's clear that the new Nano is a star. I didn't think the portrait screen would work when I first saw the web rumours - but in fact it's a triumph, returning to the elegant form factor of the second generation iPod. And it's a joy to use, thanks to a vastly improved user interface and the addition of an accelerometer that switches the screen when you hold the nano horizontally.

The accelerometer also enables 'shake to shuffle', where a flick of the wrist will choose a random song. A neat trick that proves Apple isn't afraid to plagarise the best features of Sony Ericsson's Walkman phones.

The addition of voice notes won't make a difference to most people, as you'll need to buy some extra headphones with a mic built in. But i can see the Genius automatic playlist generator being a massive (if controversial) hit.

Genius will be massive, because it will - if it works as advertised - unlock the potential of your iPod library and help keep parties jumping or evenings chilled. And it'll be controversial because it means your iTunes library information will be uploaded to Apple's hive mind, albeit anonymously, and used to sell you more tracks from the Music Store.

Of course, Genius won't be able to sell you tunes on the Nano - but it's likely that a future software release for the iPod Touch and iPhone will unlock this feature. And it's the Big New Thing in iTunes 8. Although I must admit I'm quite partial to the iPhoto-style grid view of albums, artists and genres - especially as hovering your mouse over an artist or genre with more than one album allows you to cycle through that album artwork.

I couldn't work out how Apple would update the iPod Touch - and in the end the changes were small. The back is shinier and rounder, and the physical volume button is welcome. The integration of a Nike+ receiver is nice too - one less dongle in my life! However, the addition of a tinny speaker is more of a bane than a boon. My bus ride home just got that bit louder.

Crucially, the Touch and Nano are both cheaper. So while they might not have given Apple a quantuum leap forward, they've ensured the iPod is likely to top many Christmas lists again this year.

Dear Santa, can I have a red Nano?