capsule review

iPod nano, fourth-generation (4G) 8GB

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At a Glance
  • Apple 8GB iPod nano (4G, late 2008)

The fourth-generation iPod nano isn't the dramatic overhaul last year's nano was. If you've already got a 3G nano, the 4G model's new features may not be compelling enough to get you to upgrade--especially if you prefer the 3G model's more-pocket-friendly shape. And even with twice the storage at the same price, the new nano won't satisfy those who want to carry massive amounts of media with them or who watch lots of video.

Nevertheless, the 4G iPod nano is a solid upgrade, offering useful new features in Genius and Spoken Menus; new voice-recording functionality; a gimmicky-but-useful accelerometer; an improved interface and menu system; and a number of other minor improvements. Interestingly, of these new features, only Genius and the new microphone compatibility are available on the latest iPod classic, meaning the iPod nano has, for the first time, surpassed the classic/full-size line in functionality. If you're in the market for your first nano, you can't go wrong. And if you've been waiting to upgrade a 1G or 2G model, now's the time to buy; compared to the similarly shaped 2G model, the new nano is better in every way except for its sharp corners.--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • Thin music and video player


    • New voice-recording functionality
    • Spoken Menus and larger menu fonts improve accessibility
    • More features than the iPod classic
    • Genius feature works directly on iPod
    • Improved interface with optional preview panel
    • Better-than-estimated battery life
    • Slightly larger Click Wheel than previous nano
    • Audio-crossfade
    • Twice the capacity of previous generation at the same price


    • Same video-out restrictions as previous model
    • New shape has its drawbacks, including sharp top edges and (especially) corners
    • Odd landscape-mode controls
    • Spoken Menus doesn’t cover all menus and has the same occasional pronunciation issues as computer text-to-speech
    • Doesn’t charge from some older accessories
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