You have to admire Apple's guts. The company had a product that was one of the best in its class, the, and it's just gone and replaced it with something entirely different: the, er, iPod nano.
It's a dumb decision to use the same name for the new version, because it invites all sorts of pointless comparisons between this and the old one. Let's get them out of the way now. No, this one doesn't play video. It doesn't have a camera or a clickwheel or a large screen. There are no games, contacts... you get the idea.
If you get too tied up in this sort of comparison, the sixth-generation iPod nano makes no sense at all, especially when you consider that the 8GB version, at £129, is only £60 cheaper than the infinitely more capable 8GB. That's because, rather than trying to appeal to a broad range of users, this time, Apple is going after just one: people who want to listen to music while they exercise, but find the iPod shuffle too simple. Apple should just have called it the 'iPod run' and be done with it.
Such a square
The nano is unbelievably small and light. You can fix it to your clothes using the strong clip at the back. There are just three buttons -- power/screen lock, volume up and volume down. Everything else is controlled via the 1.5-inch, capacitive touchscreen, which is something of a mixed bag. The screen is bright and colourful, and text is clear.
It's easy to get to grips with the basics. The home screen has a block of four icons with clear labels such as podcasts, artists, radio and so on. To see more options, you swipe left or right to load more icons, just like you do on an iPhone or iPod touch. So far, so good, but after that it starts to get a little more complicated.
Scrolling through artists or songs is relatively fiddly, as only four bands, songs or whatever are shown on the screen at once. Although the nano helps by jumping quickly to a letter, if you have 50 bands starting with the letter M, it's not particularly easy to find what you're looking for.
Once you're over that, there are various gestures to learn. Swiping right takes you back one screen (eventually to the home screen), twisting with two fingers rotates the display and tapping and swiping in the radio and music menus bring up extra features such as live pause. There's no way you would be able to find out most of those without reading an online manual though, as on-screen help is limited at best. It's the first time we've had to break out the documentation when reviewing an iPod, which isn't a great sign.