The fourth generation iPod Nanos are hot.
They’re being called “nano-chromatic,” and they come in nine different colors, including silver, black, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and pink. When you buy the red Nano, a portion of your money will go to the (Product)Red campaign, which works to fight AIDS.
Flashy colors aside, the new Nano has made some nice design changes. Though it is the same size as the second generation, it has more appealing lines. It narrows toward the sides, giving it a more elegant shape than the blunt third generation. More importantly, the new screen is two inches diagonally, compared to old one and a half inch screen.
With this new screen, it is finally reasonable to watch a movie on the Nano. When you play a video, it automatically turns to fit the wide screen. Technically speaking, the screen is a liquid crystal display with blue-white LED backlight and 320-by-240-px. resolution at 204px. per inch. Plainly speaking, the picture is really pretty.
Another significant improvement the fourth generation has over its predecessors is its storage capacity. Apple has doubled the capacity to 8GB or 16GB. This means 2,000 or 4,000 songs, eight hours or 16 hours of video, and 7,000 to 14,000 iPod-viewable photos. With all of this entertainment to store, battery life is always important. Fully charged, the new Nano can play 24 hours of music or four hours of video.
The new Nano functions mostly like any other iPod. You can use the touch wheel to scroll through your music, movies, pictures and such. They’re organized the same way too, but now you can tilt it sideways to view a cover flow like the one on iTunes.
Apple went to great lengths to eliminate all the scrolling and backtracking it takes to move through menus. There is a search feature, just in case you’re simply at a loss to find something manually. You can also hold down the center button while listening to a song to browse the album or other songs by the artist. As usual, you can also do this to add the song to the On-The-Go playlist. The most quirky new shortcut lets you shuffle songs without moving all the way back to the main menu. Instead, you just shake the iPod. At first, this feature is fun — one flick and you can go into shuffle mode. You quickly realize that it is an awfully violent shake though. This is probably to prevent you from inadvertently shuffling you music, but superficially, it makes you look a little crazy.
This sensitivity to motion adds a new element to playing games on the Nano. For instance, you can play an electronic version of the old maze game — tilting the “box” around to navigate the ball around a hole-filled maze. Much like using the shuffle feature though, you might look a little odd playing on the train.
The coolest feature of the new Nano is called Genius — also a feature on the latest versions of iTunes. Genius creates playlists based on a single song. It chooses at least 10 similar songs and if you like what it’s created, you can save it. The manual, iTunes and the iPod itself explain this, but if you overlooked the manual, you might not realize that the Genius feature needs to be set up on your iTunes, then synced to you iPod for it to work.
Overall, the fourth generation iPod Nano is a lot of fun. It is yet another improvement in a long line of iPods. It’s always good to have a greater capacity and a bigger screen, but the Genius is definitely a blessing to music lovers. Not to mention it looks pretty hot too.