The new Apple iPod mini

Should the cast of Sex and the City renege on its promise and reunite for another series, there will possibly be a new addition to Carrie’s handbag. When New York’s top columnist dips her beautifully manicured fingers into her vintage Christian Dior handbag, chances are that alongside her Chanel lipstick will be a pink Apple iPod mini.

In case you missed the hype, the iPod mini, which is smaller, lighter and holds fewer tunes than the original players, went on sale in the US and has apparently sold out.

Stores reported that when they opened their doors, they were besieged by young Carrie-clones. There was even talk of affluent young buyers snapping up iPods in each of the five colours (gold, silver, blue, green and pink). Well, a girl has to accessorise.

So is the iPod mini any good? iTunes, which accompanies the player, is easily the best MP3 software even for Windows. The option of storing music in the AAC format is handy, too, as it gives a slightly better quality performance than MP3.

Then there’s the device itself, with its spinning menu wheel. While other MP3 jukeboxes almost rival it for speed of access to tracks, their button-based systems are nowhere near as elegant or as fun.

It looks groovy, too, although the silver one is a little tacky. As for the bad stuff? Well, Windows users will need a PC with either a USB 2.0 or a Firewire connection, so if your PC is more than a year old, you’ll have to upgrade it. The device also doesn’t come with a recharging/ transfer dock - you pay extra for that.

It would also be nice to see the iPod with direct recording from CDs/hi-fi systems, Bluetooth wireless earphones and the option to guess intelligently which track one wants to hear next.

The only serious blot is its pathetic eight-hour battery life. With MP3 players offering at least 12 hours and Sony’s MiniDisc players soldiering on for 50 hours, it makes one feel a little short-changed.

One thing you can’t moan about is the storage. The iPod mini has 4GB - enough for 1,000 songs, more than adequate for most people. It is smart, works well and comes in fabulous colours. Track one down if you can. Only don’t get the silver one: as Carrie will tell you, they are way too common.