This feature works well – although you need to scroll through menus relatively slowly or the voice will develop a bit of a stutter – and will certainly be useful for people with visual difficulties. However, it could also come in handy if you’re simply lounging on a sun-bed and feeling too lazy to lift your head to look at the iPod’s menu screen, or if you want to try and control it without taking it out of your pocket.
Oddly, the Spoken Word Menus option is only available on the new iPod Nano, and not on the iPod Classic or Touch. That might be because they have larger screens, although we wouldn’t have thought that the size of the screen alone was the most important issue for visually impaired people.
I can sing a rainbow, sing a raaaiinnnn-er-booow...
There’s also a new voice-recording option, although in order to use this you need to buy one of Apple’s new earphone headsets, which include a remote control and microphone. There are actually two of these coming out: a basic set priced at £19 and a more expensive version with higher quality earphones for £55.
We can’t find much to fault about the new iPod Nano, which is just as well for Apple as there’s a lot riding on this particular product. The iPod Touch is currently still too expensive to really spearhead Apple’s sales efforts, which means that the iPod Nano goes into Christmas as the new flagship of the iPod range.
The one potential weakness of the new Nano is that it’s still more expensive than rivals from companies such as Creative Labs and Archos, which both have similar slimline players on offer for less than £100. However, the iPod Nano scores with its superior design and, more importantly, backs up its good looks with advanced features such as the accelerometer, which make it more versatile than its rivals. It may have taken four attempts, but this around it looks like the Nano could be a real winner.