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Apple iPod Nano

Apple's master-stroke?

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Another plus that the Nano has over the Mini is the screen. The screen is smaller but it's in colour. Now you'd think that a 1.5in colour screen wouldn't be worth the effort, but I was amazed at just how good this display is. Not only will the screen show all the track and artist information while you're playing your music, it will also display the cover art - just like the iPod Photo.

Apple iPod Nano

Talking of the iPod Photo, the Nano is happy to accommodate your digital images, allowing you to put together albums and slideshows to while away boring train journeys. I'm not sure that I'll be viewing too many images on my Nano, especially since it has a smaller screen than my digital camera, but I'm not one to complain about extra functionality.

Below the screen is the traditional click-wheel, and despite being far smaller than the one you'd find on a full-size iPod, or even a Mini, it works flawlessly. I have used a great many MP3 players over the years, some good, some bad, but there's been one constant during that time: the superiority of the iPod navigation system. Many manufacturers have tried to imitate the iPod with varying degrees of success - the Creative Zen Micro did a good job with its vertical scrolling pad - but nothing can compare to the ease of navigation that the click-wheel empowers you with.

Unlike standard iPods, the top edge of the nano is completely barren except for the Hold switch. The headphone socket is actually hiding on the bottom edge of the device, along with the dock connector. The reason for this is that Apple's lanyard headphones are secured via the dock connector, so the headphone socket therefore had to be next to it. It may seem strange at first that Apple has chosen to hang the nano upside down from your neck, but in reality it makes a lot of sense. With the device hanging upside down, you simply tilt it towards you and navigate as normal - if it was hanging the right way up, tilting it towards you would result in the device being upside down; not the ideal position for navigation.

Thankfully, the Nano uses exactly the same dock connector as standard iPods, which means you can use your spare cables. Just be aware that the Nano won't sync via Firewire, although you can use your Firewire cable for charging. Of course, the Nano isn't going to fit into your docking cradle, but Apple has covered this point by supplying a converter in the box for this purpose. You also get a USB docking/charging cable and the ubiquitous white Apple ear buds.

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