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Wednesday, Dec 19th

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iPod Nano 4g reviews

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version has the same size screen, the same 8 and 16GB storage and the same video support as before, but adds a much more comfortable (sorta) oval shape, a curved screen, an accelerometer and most importantly, a much improved user interface that aims to solve some of the limitations the Clickwheel has compared to the iPod Touch and iPhone UIs. This evolution succeeds beautifully, even if it's relatively minor

The Hardware
The brushed metal feels great, looks great, and is much less scratch-prone than the shiny silver backing in the 3g fat. It's also thinner, because it tapers off to the sides, but it's as thick at its thickest point as the entire body of the previous generation. There's slightly more glare from the screen because it's curved to be flush with the surface, but that's nothing you can't live with. Aesthetically, it's a lot nicer looking than the previous flat screens.

An added accelerometer also brings some iTouch/iPhone functionality to their little brother, which is well integrated where it makes sense. Rotating to landscape mode is as fast as it is on the iTouch/iPhone, and the subsequent Cover Flow view is baby butt smooth. Games, which were on the nano before, can also access motion-sensing. The built-in marble maze game is as good as the ones we've seen in the App Store.

The portrait UI is also a great improvement over the the fat nano landscape UI, and makes much better use of the available real estate. (The older nano rather awkwardly tried to fit two columns on the screen. This only has one.) The new menu and display fills up the entire top half of device, which gives you more list items at once. Scrolling through menus and Cover Flow is as fast as we've seen on any iPod.On-the-fly genius playlist creation, which recommends music already on your device based a starting point of any song in your library, worked well.The new nano also comes with a Voice Memo app that works just like the Belkin devices currently on the market. It's too bad that you have to pay $29.99 for a pair of headphones that actually have a mic on board; the default ones are just standard earbuds. Voice notes to yourself, with the microphone just hanging from your ear, is plenty loud enough to understand exactly what you say.

Further notes

• You can't adjust volume when in landscape mode because it's locked into Cover Flow. Tough to adjust blindly when you've got the iPod in your jacket.

• The headphone output volume is slightly louder than the iPhone's.

• Shuffle by shake does NOT always work reliably. Lam looks crazy shaking this thing waiting for it to make the chime sound indicating its being shuffled. Also, there's a great chance that most people will never know to shake this thing—there are no indicators in the UI to let people know this is a command. (If you're buying one for mom, better show her how its done.)

• The glare due to the curved screen is more annoying outdoors, where you not only get glaer, but a slight warping of the glare like a funhouse mirror.


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