The new iPod nano is clearly the more interesting half of Apple's strategy of cutting the old iPod nano in half to create the latest, while relegating the control-fitting section to life as the iPod shuffle. While we weren't completely convinced by the lack of physical controls on the previous iPod shuffle, the refreshed iPod nano is a much more attractive device.
Its primary feature, a 39mm, 240 x 240 pixel touch-sensitive display is about all there is to the iPod nano. In fact, the iPod nano is almost too small; there's hardly enough of it to grasp to make one-handed navigation easy. It's possible with a little getting used to, but not ideal. On the plus side, the anodised aluminium casing does feel pleasant in the hand.
A little odd is the migration of a clip from the iPod shuffle to the iPod nano. It leaves us in two minds as on the one hand it's easy enough to purchase a case to attach an iPod to your body if you want to. But on the other hand, given how easy it is to lose the iPod nano at only 37.5mm x 40.9mm x 8.78mm and 21.1g, it's probably good sense to always have it attached to your person. And of course it makes for easy creation of an iPod nano watch using a sweat band, which is what you really bought one for anyway.
The user interface is not exactly like that of an iPod, but not exactly iOS either. While the visuals are closer to that of an iPod touch, the navigational hierarchy - with swipes and prods moving left and right through menu layers - is reminiscent of classic iPods. The press-and-hold wibbly wobbly rearrangement of the home screen icons is straight iPhone, though.
In a concession to either common sense, or Apple's ever-vocal user base, there are three physical controls - one power button and two for volume. This makes using the nano with headphones that don't come with an in-line remote possible, so we welcome the addition.
The iPod nano's low resolution means display space is ever at a premium so long menus can become an exercise in the tedium of scrolling. Similarly getting back to the home screen takes much longer without a dedicated home button. Occasions also arise when menu items are hidden off screen with no way of finding them save through swiping about randomly.