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The Apple iPod Nano 4th Gen Both A Step Back And Forward

Updated on July 19, 2011
The iPod Nano 4th Generation
The iPod Nano 4th Generation

The new nano's design is both a step back and forward for the iPod. It's a step back because it returns the long and slender form of the older nano model and departs from the slim yet squat shape of its closest predecessor. It's also a step forward because it streamlines the overall design of the nano line. Instead of angular edges, the new model sports sexier and more comfortable curves. Not only is such a change aesthetially pleasing, its also quite ergonomic. The new nano fit perfectly into my hands, and I never felt awkward holding it or using its click wheel. If I were pressed to find a problem with the new design, however,I would note the sharp and somewhat unrefined corners on top and at the bottom. They didn't wound me or anything, but they did hurt me every now and then.

Unlike its most recent predecessor, this new iPod's display is structurally oriented in portrait mode. But with a built-in accelerometer, it can be flipped onto either side for a landscape orientation. That same accelerometer lends a unique feature to the new model: the "shake" function. Aside from making game play more interactive and making the switch to Cover Flow as easy as blinking, when you activate the "shake" function of the accelerometer, you can change tracks by sharply shaking the unit.

Ipod Nano 4th Generation

Sharp edges noted
Sharp edges noted

Once you do this, the nano will also automatically switch to shuffle mode, even if you were originally listening to tracks in album or playlist mode. I personally found this new "feature" superfluous ad gimmicky. I mean, the click wheel is already an ergonomic and easy way to navigate through tracks, features, and functions. Why add a counter-intuitive option such as shaking?

Luckily, though, the "shake" function is only an option. You can easily turn it on and off in the settings. So if you were the type to appreciate shaking instead of clicking, or if you were the opposite, you'd experience no problems with the new nano at all. Aside from that, and among other new options - spoken menu and cross fade, for example - you can also choose to view menus in a larger font size, an option that was not available in older models.

Display-wise, then, the fourth-generation nano is extraordinary. While it may not be that great an improvement from the third generation nano, its flexibility in terms of orientation will make you wish all mobile device displays worked that way.

In terms of sound quality, the new nano remains the same. Ditto for the proprietary pair of earphones that accompany each unit. But then the brilliant colors of the nano demand to be paired with equally striking earphones! This is why, during my test period, I alternately paired the blue variant I was lent with my Skullcrushers from Skullcandy and hooked earphones from Philips. (I used the former for bigger party-on-my-own sounds; the latter, for listening to music while running.)

Batter life is also just as great twenty-four hours of music, and four to five hours of video playback. Speaking of video playback, the argumnt about the size of the screen is moot. I've watched many movies and TV shows on my own nano and on the new one I tested and all I can say is that you will eventally get used to the size. Also, it really isn't as bad as you think.

Now, at this point, some of you might be asking why anyone would upgrade to., or become a new iPod user with, the new fourth generation nano. I can think of two solid reasons: it has the best and most ergonomic design, and it's more customizable and usable than older iPod models.

The first reason is quite self-explanatory. One look at the new nano, and you'll know what I mean. The second reason deserves more fleshing out. See, the iPod is general is already seamlessly user-friendly. Fine, it ties you to using iTunes and it does not really allow dragging-and-dropping. (The newest model requires that you have at least iTunes 8 installed in your PC. I don't know why many people online find this disappointing; I like using iTunes 8, and I think the idea behind Genius playlists is cool.) But then iTunes and the iPod are nothing if not intuitive and easy to use. I honestly, had difficulty imagining how Apple could improve the interface of my third-generation nano, because it was already (and still is) excellent. But somehow, Apple was able to do so with the fourth-generation nano. That's quite impressive, if you asked me, and it definitely sets the bar high.

Specifications

LCD Size and Technology :2-inch LCD with LED Backlight

Capacity : 8GB Flash Drive

Estimated Batter Life : 24 hours music, 4 hours video

Supported Formats : M4V, MP4, MOV

Physical Dimensions : 90.7 x 38.7 x 6.2mm

BOTTOMLINE:

Whether you're an old-school iPod user or a recent convert, the new iPod nano 4th Gen will bring more color to your multimedia life.

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