Nick Peers
16/11/2011 19:22 | By Nick Peers, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Apple iPod nano review

The iPad Nano is a simple portable media player aimed at those who want access to their music collection without distractions.

Apple iPod nano (© Apple)

What is it?
A portable music player that will appeal mainly to joggers and gym-goers.

What's great
Decent, if not spectacular, audio quality; touch-screen interface that's easy to use; excellent battery life.

What's not
Limited functionality for the price; no video playback; poor supplied earphones.

The bottom line
A perfectly competent audio player with a few nifty features, but ultimately too expensive for what it offers.

The latest incarnation of the iPod nano is basically last year's model with a software refresh, which might explain why Apple has knocked up to £34 off the asking price.

That means you're greeted by a tiny square device that nestles neatly in the palm of your hand, available in one of seven colours to complement all tastes and leotards.

Like all Apple hardware, it's gorgeous to look at and well designed, with a built in belt clip and minimal buttons - power/sleep and volume controls - adorning the top of the device. At the bottom is the headphone socket and dock, which you'll need to use to connect your iPod Nano to your PC or Mac (via the horrendous iTunes).

Once powered on, the tiny touchscreen bursts into life, delivering a sharp, bright display that makes it easy to navigate your music collection once you've learned the basics, such as swiping to the left to go back to the previous screen.

You can also view photos, monitor your fitness regime or turn your iPod Nano into a clock with 18 face pieces to choose from (you could even use it as a watch, if you're willing to invest in a wristband).

But it's the unit's audio capabilities that will ultimately determine whether it stands or falls. While it's a capable enough music player, we expected more from its audio quality. Things aren't helped by the sub-par ear buds that are supplied with the unit, but even when you level the playing field through a stereo or better set of phones it still doesn't quite match up to its bigger brother, the iPod touch, particularly in the volume stakes.

Find deals on the iPod nano

That's not to say it doesn't sound decent enough, and the touchscreen makes navigating your music collection a relatively simple task, although the tiny screen does mean you can spend a long time scrolling through what's on offer. Thankfully, you can build playlists directly on the device, perfect should you need to tweak or generate a compilation to match your mood.

The inclusion of a FM radio is also welcome, particularly as it supports Live Pause, allowing you to buffer up to 15 minutes of a live recording for listening to later. Throw in voice-recording capabilities and podcast support and while the sound quality isn't quite what we'd hoped for, there's little doubt the iPad Nano has most audio bases covered.

It's clear the iPad Nano remains a portable media player aimed firmly at those who want access to their music collection without too many other distractions - those heading to the gym or on a run will love the way it's been designed with their needs very much in mind.

The biggest issue is with price. While the 16GB version represents the better value at just £14 more than the 8GB model, the fact remains that the iPod Nano costs around twice the price of comparative rival models.

While it's true they can't match its looks, size or weight, nor hold a candle to its touch-screen interface, Apple's premium could be a step too far for many, particularly as you can get the infinitely more versatile and better-sounding iPod touch for just 55 notes more.

Apple iPod nano [2011] is rated three stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets

Essential info
Capacity: 8GB/16GB
Price: £115/£129
Expansion: none
Screen (size, type, resolution): 1.54-inch touch-screen LCD, 240x240 pixels
Audio formats supported: AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, Audible
Video formats supported: none
Other features: FM radio, photo viewer, fitness monitor, clock
Stated battery life: 24 hours (audio)
Dimensions: 37.5mm x 40.9mm x 8.78mm
Weight: 21g