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Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen review




  • Recommended by TR

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Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen
  • Apple iPod nano 8GB 4th Gen


Our Score:


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.

The history of the nano, including the 3rd gen design hiccup.

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.

Tim Sutton

October 6, 2008, 5:20 am

Hey Riyad, do you by any chance own an iPhone? You should probably mention it four or five more times, y'know, just to avoid confusion.

Nice review, though with all the drawbacks you mention I'm a bit dubious as to the headline score. Would you have been as generous if it came in a Technika box?

iTunes and sound quality are the deal breakers for me, though it is very pretty.


October 6, 2008, 5:48 am

"Could this be the coolest music player available?"

Definately No. Other players have come light years since the last gen.

Best nano ever, yes maybe....still prefer the phat version.


October 6, 2008, 12:15 pm

I don't know how others but I use mp3 players, while commuting, taking public transportation or traveling. I must admit that for commuting I do not need all my music. In the last then years I spent a lot on mp3 players from Creative, Apple, Iriver etc... Once I tunes ruined my music library since than I keep all my music on a dedicated hard drive ( even iPod classic would be to small anyway...)Since most mid class cell phones have mp3 players I happily marched out from the stand alone media player business! Your phone has it anyway, no missed calls, less gizmo in your pocket! I used Sony and Samsung phones and I was glad with them, I might risk the new touch screen Nokia, btw iPhone contracts are just plain for the birds at least here in Hungary, how it is on the "Islands"?))


October 6, 2008, 1:46 pm

Tim - with the iPhone being the halo product for Apple right now, it seemed to make sense to compare where necessary. Besides, I wouldn't show off about my iPhone since it's only a 1st gen, which means I have to stand in the car park to make a phone call :(

The scores reflect the fact that most consumers out there are more than satisfied with the sound quality offered by an iPod, and most of them are still using the bundled earbuds! Yes I personally hate iTunes, and would rather be able to drag and drop my music, but I'm not the average consumer, and I suspect that neither are you :)

localhero - I agree with much of what you're saying, which is why I use an iPhone. It allows me to listen to my music without missing any calls, and doesn't make me use a horrible interface like most so called music phones. However, if I'm going for a run, or to the gym, the iPhone is a bit big and heavy, so something like a nano is preferable. And of course, I don't want to answer the phone when I'm at the gym!


October 6, 2008, 3:12 pm

A little mathematical anomaly: the average score is 8.25, how is that good enough for a TR recommendation? Ahhh, forgot it... Apple product...


October 6, 2008, 3:22 pm

You're assuming the overall scores are an average, which they aren't. Moreover, we frequently award products "Recommended" awards with an 8/10 score.

For example, the Creative Zen Stone averages 7.67 and has a recommendation.



October 6, 2008, 3:41 pm

I don't think it's a good idea to be telling people you rip all your music to 320kbps MP3s. MP3 is really getting on now, and isn't a smart choice for quality. In a blind listening test I found AACs at 192kbps offered a similar level of quality to 320kbps MP3s, and that a 320kbps AAC was close to indistinguishable from the source. Of course, blind listening is all dependant on the person, the headphones/speakers, amplifiers etc. I personally blind tested on some Shure SE420s plug in to an Auzen X-FI Prelude with an in line attenuator, as I was going to be using the Shures with the AAC compression in my iPhone; my music is all ripped to my desktop in Apple Lossless (I found flac, either in the encoding or decoding, was changing to dynamic range compared to the source CD). I would advise everyone blind tests when deciding what encoding to use, and there are a number of free programs to do so.

As I'm rambling a bit now I'll shut up.


October 6, 2008, 3:45 pm

I'd question whether most people's mobile phones have a better screen. It's QVGA, few mobile phones (with the exception of smartphones) get higher than that.


October 6, 2008, 3:58 pm

Stephen - you're missing the point. I was saying that I rip everything at 320kbps MP3 because it's the best quality format that I know is supported by EVERY device. The library that I have on my NAS box at home, will also be encoded in FLAC, but I need a version that I can play, no matter what device I'm using.

Take in-car stereos for instance. The majority of them will now allow you to use CDs loaded with MP3 files - not AAC, not WMA, not FLAC, just MP3. So if you want to listen to your music in your car, you're going to need a version of it in MP3.

Sockatume - Yes, most mobile phones have the same resolution as the nano, but many of them have a larger screen that will be better for looking at photos.


October 6, 2008, 6:38 pm

Good review & I agree with most of it. It's not on everyone's wish-list but an FM tuner would be a very welcome addition next year.

I didn't want to spent too much on headphones and I believe the excellent Sennheiser CX 300's are exceptional value at around 㾾 from the likes of Play & Amazon. I thought I'd recommend them to those not wishing to spend a fortune...


October 6, 2008, 6:49 pm

@Hugo: if anything, I would have assumed that the sounds quality is the factor that matters most on a device that is designed for listening to music. Probably format support... or how easy it is to get your songs onto the device... Still can't see the reason for the recommendation.


October 6, 2008, 6:55 pm

Riyad, I think it was more I was missing the information that you rip everything to a NAS in flac :)


October 6, 2008, 6:59 pm

@ Singularity "Still can't see the reason for the recommendation."

It's a bloody brilliant bit of kit. It's not perfect but what is? Do you own one?


October 6, 2008, 7:13 pm

Agreed, it might not be the best when it comes to sound quality, but it does look like a pretty complete package. I dont particularly like the Apple approach to their product lines, a bit of an understatement infact, but i do realise that a lot of people out there are not as involved in the technical know how of their audio equipment, and are rather just looking for the best overall package.

I'm still going to buy the Sony NWZ-A829, for the exceptional sound quality ofcourse,

(unless something else comes out soon to beat it ;)), but this does look like a pretty tempting player.

Nice review.


October 6, 2008, 7:14 pm


Pretty easy setup: take any WM phone with decent storage (Samsung Omnia jumps to mind), install pocket player (plays any format including flac). You can drag'n'drop your music onto it, sound quality is superb. The best part: cost is fraction of the nano, and there is no crippling iTunes.


October 6, 2008, 8:01 pm


Yes, that sounds good, too much like hard work though! I guess I'm shallow, I choose my MP3 players like I choose women, looks first & the stuff on the inside is very much secondary ;)


October 6, 2008, 8:24 pm

Sorry, but I simply can't agree with the value score you gave this, I agree with sound quality and usability, but 8 for value? This nano gives you very few features, and although 𧴡 for 8GB doesn't seem bad when you find the the Clix 2 or Cowon D2 8GB are around 𧴺. However the Clix 2 and D2 both come with a wealth of extra features that I believe are worth the premium. The nano however? 𧴡 for 8GB, average sound quality, small average screen quality, bad bundled earphones and missing simple features. How can it score an 8 when similar 8GB players from iRiver or Sansa top out at around 䀁-90, and these cheaper players offer much more in the way of features, sound quality, expandability and Sansa recently added FLAC and OGG playback to their 8GB player.

Considering the competition, I can't see how the Nano could score more then a 6 value wise.


October 6, 2008, 8:44 pm


1. You assume the sound output circuits on all WM phones are up to scratch? Bad idea.

2. iTunes is not crippling. It is a shame that it is nowhere near as responsive on Windows as it is on OS X though.

3. How much is your average WM phone sim free again?

4. Pocket Player does not play any format (MP3, WMA, WMV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and WAV is not any format).

5. Pocket Player is not free.

6. Pocket Player would look better if someone vomited on the screen.


October 6, 2008, 9:09 pm


I hear you ;) I guess it's because of the difference in amount of time you spend with your MP3 player (and the slightly different functionality) that I would perhaps recommend considering a different approach.

Btw, all the hustle with iTunes is way more work than connecting your phone to the PC and double click once to run the installation.


October 6, 2008, 9:12 pm

Yes, I quite like iTunes too, although I agree, it's not as good on Windows as it is on the Mac. The only player I've found that comes close to it is Foobar2000 but that takes a lot of fiddling about with (I'm sure linux users will mention Amarok).

Anyway, it's either the new Nano or a new graphics card for me this Christmas.


October 6, 2008, 9:17 pm

Another Apple product with a flurry of comments! Personally I really like the apple range of MP3 player ect and theres one main reason for that, iTunes. It makes the ipod so much easier to use for the average user.

Thing is, I doubt any of these comments will change people opinion about Apples products however it does bother me a little bit when people post to say that the original writer is wrong, this website employs people to give their OPINION on the products, and thats what this is, the writers opinion. So you cant say that it is wrong. It is YOUR opinion that THEIR opinion is wrong, not their opinion that is wrong.


October 6, 2008, 9:19 pm


I think you should have a look at MediaMonkey; a quite outstanding player/organizer. Should you want video as well, I would recommend WinAmp; however for music only I have yet to come across a program that can match the MM.


October 6, 2008, 9:54 pm

I for one wont be buying an Ipod from the UK which is more expensive, and has a lower specification than the US model.

On that note can somebody please remind me why France has suddenly started showing such a loving concern for our welfare by imposing a volume cap (20% I believe) on EU models rendering the Ipods useless in busy environments? Its my hearing and my business what I do with it. Whats next, banning the sale of matches and lighters just in case somebody accidentally burns themselves? Nanny state argghh.


October 6, 2008, 10:10 pm

I just bought the new Nano (my fourth iPod). To be honest I was really interested in some alternatives like the Zune and one of the new Sony's. They have more features and are supposed to be great but at the end of the day the iPod is just the easy choice. Everything works brilliantly. iTunes is a dog but all my music and playlists are set up and ready to sync. The sound quality is good enough for my ears too. You just can't go wrong with an iPod.

Next time I'm gonna have a change.


There's some sort of volume limit setting in the menu so I think you can make it louder to some extent.


October 7, 2008, 12:25 am

would it make more sense if the 4th generation nano gets its recommendation compared to the 3rd generation? in that respect, the value point would make sense, as the 8GB version of that is far cheaper than the original, plus offers better features, and has exceptional build quality (scratch proof aluminium all around)

on a side note, i would like a one off ipod review where sound quality through a line out dock connected to a portable amplifier (cmoy, voyager, anything) compared to using the players built in amplifier. i've taken the plunge and bought a 120GB classic. i've also considered aline out dock to an amplifier, just to see if it'll improve audio quality a little. and so the volume doesn't turn up in my pocket.

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