Apple’s pedigree in the MP3 market is unsurpassed. Its iPods have sold in the millions and, whether or not you agree with its approach to selling music, there’s no arguing over the quality of its hardware.
Even by these standards, however, the latest nano makes a bold statement. Gone is the click wheel of old and the tall, thin profile, to be replaced with an all-touchscreen interface. It’s less than half the size of the previous nano, measuring 40.9 x 8.8 x 37.5mm (WDH) and weighing only 21.1g. In fact, the design is closer to the 2008 Shuffle than last year’s nano.
Our first reaction was one of wonder mixed with scepticism. Surely that tiny 1.54in screen would be too small to work as a touch interface?
It turns out, however, that our fears were unfounded. The touchscreen is capacitive, like that of the iPhone 4, and is just as slick. But it’s the way the nano’s designers have managed to squeeze an iOS-style interface into such tight confines that really takes the breath away.
It isn’t all touch, however. Physical volume controls sit on the top edge and next to these is a power button, which turns the screen on and off. After a couple of minutes, operating the nano becomes second nature.
Combine that with very good sound quality – we had no complaints whether listening through a pair of over-the-ear V-Moda CrossFade LPs or some in-ear canal Ultimate Ears 700s – and a selection of swanky extras, including a pedometer, Nike+ iPod support and an FM radio that can be paused, and you have a compact MP3 player of rare polish and pedigree.
It would be remiss of us to gloss over the faults, and we can’t say it’s worth upgrading at these prices. For all that, however, we have a big soft spot for the new nano. It’s gorgeous to have and behold, and for anyone who loves their technology with a bit of bling, it will prove irresistible. Jonathan Bray