Apple iPod Nano

Apple's master-stroke?

When I'm writing an MP3 player review, it's usually at this point that I tell you to forget about the bundled headphones and invest in a decent set to get the best out of the device. However, with the Nano, I feel compelled to use the supplied Apple earbuds. Why? Well although I still far prefer the sound from my Sennheisers, with a device as small as the nano, it seems ridiculous to be carrying around a set of headphones that are four times the size of the player.

Thankfully, the Apple earbuds give a good account of themselves and the sound quality is good. In fact, the sound the Nano pumps out is superb, easily as good as my fourth-generation iPod.

Apple iPod Nano

Apple quotes a battery life of 14 hours, which is more than adequate for a device whose obvious purpose is as an exercise companion - if you can manage a workout that lasts more than 14 hours, you're a much better man than I am.

What's truly amazing about the Nano is that Apple announced it last week, and then rolled out a massive amount of stock into the channel. The Apple Store in London was selling them by the bucket load when I bought mine, and I can't see the demand drying up too soon.

Undoubtedly, part of the attraction is the price, at only £139 for the 2GB version or £179 for the 4GB model, Apple has really thrown the cat among the pigeons in the Flash-based MP3 player market. You'd be hard pushed to find another 2GB flash based player at this price, let alone one with Apple branding and styling, plus a colour LCD screen. My previous favourite Flash-based player was the Sony NW-E507, which was slim, stylish and sounded great - but the Sony costs more than the Nano, has only half the capacity and doesn't sport a colour screen.

Apple has tweaked the Extras menu on the Nano too. There's a world clock now, so if you travel as often as I do, you can quickly find out what the time difference is at your destination. There's also a stopwatch thrown in and a screen lock, allowing you to secure your nano to stop anyone else using it - this is a great feature for stopping your brother/sister/flatmates grabbing your Nano and using it when you're not around.

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