I wasn't really a fan of the third generation iPod nano. Apple's decision to make its svelte player look like a traditional iPod was misguided in my opinion, and made it aesthetically less appealing, while also making it far less usable. The thin, but rather wide design made it hard for me to hold comfortably in my hand, especially when I was using the Clickwheel to navigate the device. Whereas the first and second generation nanos were long, so you could keep a good grip on them while navigating, the third generation device always felt precariously balanced in my hand while I scanned through my music library.
Clearly I wasn't the only one who disliked the third generation nano with its larger screen in a landscape orientation, because the fourth generation device has returned to the thin, longer design of the original.
General consensus in the office is that this is the best looking incarnation since the original iPod nano, and I agree wholeheartedly. The original device had a very distinctive look, but unfortunately many consumers complained about the screens and fascias scratching too easily. Strangely, even after years of use, the screen on my nano hasn't scratched, but then I've never been stupid enough to put it in a pocket with my keys or a bunch of loose change!
As you can see from the picture on this page, the new nano continues Apple's trend of using aluminium for the case, and in this instance it really does look stunning. The case is constructed from a single billet of aluminium, so there are no seams or joins to spoil the lines. In essence the case is a very slim cylinder, into which the workings of the iPod have been inserted. The case is also tapered at the edges, making the nano ellipsoid in shape. This makes the device very comfortable to hold in the hand and has the added advantages of making it look far slimmer than the first and second gen units, while also being lighter.
The new nano is available in a veritable plethora of colours, although the orange version that Apple sent me is clearly the pick of the bunch! I'm also happy to say that the finish is pretty robust, with my review sample picking up no scratches whatsoever, despite being my constant companion for the past couple of weeks. And, unlike my iPhone, the nano doesn't feel like it will slip out of my hand every time I take it out of my pocket.