Only in the fast-paced world of technology could the words "What's old is new again" refer to a product that's been dead for barely a year. Yet how else can you describe the second-generation nano but as the resurrection of the iPod mini?

Though Apple's newest nanos look positively Lilliputian next to an iPod mini, they have plenty in common. Available in capacities of 2GB, 4GB and 8GB, the nano has the same scratch-resistant aluminium shell, rounded edges and (in the case of the 4GB version) colourful exterior as the mini.

The cheapest nano comes in silver; the 4GB model can be had in silver, bright blue, green or pink; and the 8GB nano can be any colour as long as it's brushed-metal black. Like the mini, these players feel solid in your hand – more so than the original nano.

In most other respects, though, they are far more like the first-generation nano. The height and width is very similar, the headphone port is on the bottom rather than the top, and you can only sync via USB. The sound quality is of a similarly high standard.

There's now a search feature that allows you to use the scrollwheel to select letters on the screen. As you dial in each letter, the track list is whittled down to include only entries starting with those letters. It can also search for phrases – enter DC, for example, and you'll locate those hidden AC/DC tracks. In all honesty, we found this rather more tedious than the traditional method of selecting tracks, although it could be useful for those with large, disorganised libraries.

The redesigned earbuds are also slightly disappointing: a bit of a step back, in our opinion. These ship without foam covers, so they tend to slide around in your ears.

Battery life is hugely improved, though. Apple claims 24 hours; in our tests, the 8GB model played for 26 hours and 45 minutes, while the 4GB managed almost as much. Lastly, the display’s distinctly brighter – 40 percent brighter, Apple reckons.

Apple iPod nano 2G: Specs

  • Digital audio player
  • 2GB to 8GB capacity (price given is for 2GB version)
  • 1.5in colour display
  • USB dock and cable
  • claimed battery life 24 hours
  • actual battery life 26 hours
  • charge time about 3 hours
  • 40x6.5x90mm
  • 40g
  • Digital audio player
  • 2GB to 8GB capacity (price given is for 2GB version)
  • 1.5in colour display
  • USB dock and cable
  • claimed battery life 24 hours
  • actual battery life 26 hours
  • charge time about 3 hours
  • 40x6.5x90mm
  • 40g

OUR VERDICT

The second-generation nano feels and looks great, with a rugged aluminium finish and bright display. Add the vastly improved battery, high-quality recording and search functions, and you've found this Christmas's must-have purchase.

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