What makes an iPod an iPod? It can't be the interface, because Creative says it designed that (natch). Could it be the clickwheel? Well the new iPod touch doesn't have one of them so it can't be that either, really. So what is it?
The answer is a word that begins with 'q' and ends with 'uality'. It's made by Apple, and Apple makes quality products. That's almost all you need to know.
You'll not find a speck of plastic on the new nano; it's got a matt-finish aluminium top surface, and the now-classical stainless steal back plate underneath. So the first thing you notice when you pick it up is that it has a size-defying solid feel to it.
Surprising for a 6.5mm thick (thin) device that weighs less than 50g, wouldn't you say?
The second thing that will strike you when you get the iPod nano out the box is that it almost seems like it's the 'wrong shape'. At 69 x 52mm it's almost square - not what we're used to from an iPod.
"It's too... fat," was one of the comments that drifted across the Tech.co.uk office when the nano first arrived here. But when you actually use one, you'll realise that it's not too wide at all. In fact if its width was any smaller, it would be far too narrow a device. It would be impossible to hold in your hand with any kind of comfort.
Slimmest iPod ever
It's already pretty minuscule as it is. We actually found the nano to be quite fiddly, and much more suited to those with smaller, more nimble hands and fingers. And what you'll probably also find is that far from being "too fat" it's actually too slim. Back-to-front it measures just 6.5mm and that's frightening when you think about what it can do. But all the same, what's the point in something being paper-thin if it's not pleasant to hold?
The small size has clear advantages, but also some disadvantages which you should properly consider before purchasing one. But either way, you can't deny that Apple has pulled off a wonder of engineering. With this tiny device comes a 2-inch, 320 x 240 colour screen, up to 8GB of storage, a full clickwheel and it can also now play video.
Amazing battery life
Add to that 24-hours worth of battery life when listening to music and you start wondering how on earth Apple managed to squeeze it all in. It's smaller than the last nano, it does more, it feels nicer and draws attention wherever you take it. What more could you ask for?
If all that wasn't enough, it's got pretty much all the major features of the more expensive iPod Classic. And actually it does some things a great deal better than the Classic does. For instance, its lightning quick Flash memory powers an extremely snappy user interface. It boots up in the blink of an eye, and flicking between songs produces no detectable sluggish pauses whatsoever.
The new iPod nano fits into practically any pocket. It sports the pretty cover flow feature which debuted in iTunes 7. Its casing is extremely scratch-resistant. It holds up to 2,000 MP3 songs, it looks fantastic... and all for less than £120.