Today, I picked up an iPod Nano 4G 8GB silver and thought I’d capture the moment on video and also do a brief comparison with the Nano 3G.
My first impression of the Nano 4G is that it feels lighter than the 3G, and that its click wheel has more grain on it, which might allow for more accurate control.
On the down side, the Nano 3G ‘fatty’ definitely feels more comfortable in my hands for a variety of reasons. For starters, the Nano 4G has really sharp corners that dig into the palm if it isn’t held exactly right. It’s enough to worry me about placing the device in my front pocket while climbing stairs, bending over or doing any type of exercise. The sharp corners are also noticeable when grasping the unit to use the click wheel, which brings up another issue — the 4G’s slender build makes it necessary to pop the Nano upwards in the hand to use its controls. In comparison, the Nano 3G’s wider girth allows easier access to the click wheel and takes less grip adjustment to get the thumb into position. Some people – perhaps most people — won’t find this an issue, but I prefer to cup my handheld devices rather than to hold them high like waving a winning raffle ticket or something.
Back to the positives, I prefer the Nano 4G’s portrait-oriented display. A longer screen allows for more text to appear in list view, such as when scrolling through song lists. Unfortunately, Apple decided to increase the font size on the 4G, which results in 6 tracks being listed at once. This is still greater than the 3G’s 5 tracks, but I was hoping for at least two more lines of text to appear on the screen at a time. Hopefully, Apple will include a smaller font setting in a future firmware update.
Another feature of interest, and one I knew nothing about prior to owning the Nano 4G, is the built-in voice recorder. I just happened to be using my iPhone 3G’s earphones + mic cable when I was testing the Nano 4G and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could record my voice, and some ambient sounds, (perhaps both sides of a conversation?) with a simple hit of a button.
As for the accelerometers in the 4G, I feel that this is a bit of a gimmick. Sure, you can play games that make use of awkward tilt controls, but the rounded glass will produce some nasty glare when viewing it at odd angles. Also, I have never been a fan of Cover Flow – especially on an iPod – so holding the 4G in landscape to activate album cover viewing is just a battery waster for me. Finally, the shake to shuffle feature works, but you’ll look like an idiot using it in public!
In summary, I like the old Nano 3G version better than the 4G, and I kind of wished I had purchased an 8GB version of the fatty instead. As much as I like new toys, the Nano 4G offers very little over the 3G. In addition, it sports some dangerous looking corners and I also suspect the unit is not as physically robust as the 3G (its top and bottom are now made of plastic). Despite these concerns, I’m sure I’ll grow accustomed to the new Nano in time, but if you’re thinking of upgrading to the 4G, I would only do so for the fresh battery life and/or increased storage capacity (my two reasons).