The screen is the same as the one used in the third generation nano, but obviously mounted in a portrait format this time. It’s an impressive display and a million miles from the tiny screen in my first generation nano, but is it good enough to actually watch video on? I’m not so sure. Although I know that Ed will disagree with me, I think that a 2in screen is just a bit too small for watching video. In fact I’d go as far as saying that the screen on my iPhone is about as small as I’d want to go for video, but if the nano and all its tiny competitors are anything to go by, there are many out there who disagree with me.
Despite my reservations about video playback, the screen really does enhance the whole iPod experience - cover art looks superb, especially when the albums are randomly scrolled along the bottom edge while navigating menus. Also, despite the fact that I think of Coverflow as a pretty gimmick that you’ll probably play with once, then never use again, it looks very good on the nano. Basically, whereas the screen was simply functional on the first and second generation nanos, on the third gen and the new model it’s a highlight. You can of course view photos on the nano too, but whether you’d want to bother when your mobile phone probably has a better screen is debatable.
Below the screen is the trademark Clickwheel, which is as user friendly today as it was when Apple created it. Despite the fact that Apple has moved onto touchscreen interfaces for both the iPhone and iPod touch, the wheel interface is arguably still a simpler and more intuitive way to navigate a large music library. Just make sure that you turn off the annoying clicker as soon as possible.
The bottom edge houses the ubiquitous iPod dock and a 3.5mm headphone socket - thankfully Apple has refrained from using a recessed socket since the original iPhone. The only control on the top edge is a lock switch, and this is more important than ever considering the shake to shuffle feature. Yep, that’s right, just like the SanDisk Shaker, the new nano can be shaken in your hand to shuffle the tracks. Although this seems pretty cool at first, I can imagine than you’ll get some odd, if not angry looks from the guy opposite you, while you “shake” your hand in his direction whenever you want to shuffle your tracks. It’s also a little like Coverflow, in as much as you might use it a few times before realising that it’s far simpler to just hit the wheel to shuffle to the next track.