Sat, 19 Sep 2009 iPod nano (Fifth-generation) review
Popular iPod now more capable thanks to video and radio
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Larger display; video camera and microphone; built-in video effects; buffered FM radio with iTunes Tagging; pedometer.
- Cons: Video shot indoors looks poor; FM reception adequate but not great; same old earbuds.
- Min specs: Mac computer with USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later. iTunes 9 or later, PC with USB 2.0 port Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later. iTunes 9 or later.
- £115 (8 GB)
- £135 (16 GB)
- Star rating:
The feature that has garnered the greatest attention is the nano’s video camera. When Steve Jobs introduced the 5G iPod nano he compared it directly to Pure Digital’s popular $149 Flip Ultra standard definition pocket camcorder. The idea being that, like the Flip camcorders, the 5G nano provides you with an ultra portable video camera that’s incredibly easy to operate and is likely to be used in situations where you don’t care a great deal about the quality of what you shoot.
Using the camera couldn’t be much easier—though it’s not quite as easy as pushing the Flip’s Big Red Button. Just choose Video Camera from the nano’s main menu, press the Center button, and the nano's display becomes a viewfinder. Press Center again and the nano starts recording. Unlike most pocket camcorders, it does not display a red recording light on the front of the “camera” nor make a noise when it starts recording. For those concerned about privacy as it relates to video taken on the sly, this could be an issue.
The new video camera is located on the bottom left of the back of the iPod nano.
You can also add effects to video as you shoot it. Just navigate to the viewfinder screen and press and hold the Center button. Doing so produces a screen that contains 15 video effects (plus a Normal setting). Among the effects you’ll find are the descriptively named Sepia, Black & White, Film Grain, Cyborg, Kaleido, Twirl, and Stretch. If you’ve ever used the video effects in Apple’s Photo Booth or iChat, you have a good idea of what these things do. The effects are permanent, however—they are added as you shoot and can’t be removed.
Press Center again to stop recording and the video is added to the nano’s Camera Roll screen. Videos are organized there by date. Select a date, press Center, and any videos you’ve shot on the selected day appear in a separate screen.
Choose one using the clickwheel, press the Center button, and the video plays in the orientation in which it was shot. (If you shot it in landscape orientation, you can rotate the nano either to the left or right and the video will rotate along with the nano.) To delete a video from the nano, just select it in the date screen and press and hold the Center button. A drop-down menu appears offering Delete All, Delete, and Cancel options.
When you plug a 5G nano that contains recorded video clips into a Mac, iPhoto opens by default and offers to import the clips. Video is encoded in 640-by-480 resolution using the H.264 video codec, with 44.1kHz AAC audio, at a total data rate in the range of 2500 to 2800 kbps.
You might think that the placement of the nano’s camera will cause a lot of people to shoot video of the inside of their palms. Not so, if you’re careful. If you prefer to shoot in portrait mode, just turn the nano upside down so the lens sits above your hand. The nano understands that it’s standing on its head and when you transfer the video to iPhoto, the clips will appear right-side up. Clever.
I did, however, manage to move a finger in the way when shooting in landscape orientation. To help prevent that, I vowed to rotate the nano to the right so the lens sits at the bottom-right (from the subject’s perspective) rather than the top-left, where it’s easy to obscure the lens with your right index finger.