Apple's new iPod mini is earning rave media reviews prior to it hitting US shops on Friday.

Regarding its styling, Cnet states: "The Apple iPod mini's design surpasses even that of its photogenic older sibling."

Similarly a Mercury News article says: "The Mini's elegant exterior. The one-piece anodized aluminum shell, the same casing as Apple's PowerBook laptop computers, is a thing of beauty."

The mini also receives praise for its diminutive size. The Mercury News makes the following comparison with the standard iPod: "The regular iPod squeezes into a shirt pocket and drags down your shirt front. The Mini gets lost in a shirt pocket. The regular iPod can be cradled in your hand. The Mini can be hidden in your fingers."

Cnet notes: "The new player takes up less volume than any other player that uses Hitachi's 4GB one-inch hard drive."

The tough exterior of the iPod mini is also commented on. Cnet describes its "stylish, anodized-aluminum shell" and states: "It is so tough that we felt as if we could stand on the device without consequence."

Also praised is the iPod mini's new style scroll wheel. Cnet says: "The tastiest design treat to our palate is the revamped scrollwheel."

Similarly Bizreport states: "That ClickWheel is a revelation. As a result, this may be the first MP3 player that can be operated while wearing mittens."

Other new functions are also highlighted. Cnet singles out Autosync mode saying: "iTunes sizes up your Mini's available storage space and creates a playlist that fits the capacity perfectly, consisting of songs you've rated highly or listened to more frequently."

One area where Apple could have received criticism is over battery life. But all the journalists who have reviewed the new device are satisfied with the battery performance of this new model.

In fact Bizreport found that battery life surpassed Apple's promise: "Battery life, at about 10 hours, actually exceeded Apple's estimate of eight hours."

One area where the iPod mini did attract criticism was price, with the Mercury News noting that a 15GB iPod costs a mere $50 more.

The author of the Mercury News report says: "My digital music library is now 8 gigabytes, so it wouldn't fit in the Mini. But it would fit in the 15-gigabyte model with lots of room to grow. This cools my love-at-first-sight reaction to the Mini. I don't yet own a portable hard-disk music player, although I'm seriously contemplating a purchase this year. But it won't be the Mini; at the moment, I'm leaning toward the 15-gigabyte iPod."

But Bizreport doesn't see the need for the extra gigabytes. The report states: "Unless you just can't live without having your entire music library in your pocket – say, if you're planning a trip around the world -- the mini iPod's more than enough."

In Cnet's opinion: "At $250, the iPod Mini is more expensive than some hard drive-based players with larger capacities, but bragging rights alone could make it worth the price."

Despite the author's decision to opt for the 15GB iPod, Bizreport still believes that the new iPod mini is better than the original iPod. The report states: "The old iPod worked fine, but this is better. This kind of painstaking perfectionism explains why the iPod continues to sell so well -– the rest of the industry runs on a "get it working, then move onto something else" mentality."