iPod nano (Fifth-generation) full review


Compared to a pocket camcorder

Steve Jobs was careful not to compare the quality of the nano’s video to that of today’s pocket camcorders, and rightly so. For its intended purpose—shooting videos of your friends and family and posting the results up on YouTube—the nano’s video is acceptable. But it’s not as good as video shot by an iPhone 3GS, which isn’t all that good, much less the video shot by most of today’s dedicated pocket camcorders.

I compared the nano’s video to that shot by an original Flip Ultra pocket camcorder. Outdoors, the nano’s video was darker and bluer than the Flip’s. Much of what it shot looked drab. Indoors, under natural light, the nano failed to pick up detail and stuck with its blue tendencies. Under lamplight at night, its results were just poor—full of noise, washed out, and producing unhealthy skin tones.

The 5G iPod nano is a very poor indoor shooter under lamp light. Nano on left, standard definition Flip Ultra on right.

But it’s not a dedicated pocket camcorder—it happens to come with a fairly outstanding media player. I’m all for seeing Apple make improvements to this camera, but for a feature that emphasizes fun over quality, it’s a perfectly acceptable addition and one—unlike bulky full-sized camcorders—that you’re far more likely to have with you when you need it. (Note that you can't use the nano's camera to take still photos, only video.)

Music and video

With all the talk of the new nano’s video camera and exercise features, it’s easy to forget that it’s primarily a media player. And as such, it performs as you’d expect a modern iPod nano should.

I plugged several pairs of headphones into the new nano and I was as pleased as ever with the sound, playing MP3, AAC, and AIFF files. I then connected it to my Sonos system’s Line In port and was just as happy with what came out the attached B&W speakers.

Video is larger on the 5G nano (top).

The 5G nano uses a TFT display whereas the previous nanos have used LCDs. Compared to my 4G nano, the 5G’s display is a little bluer. Take the older iPod away, however, and you don’t notice it. Video is enhanced by the larger screen. I compared the same episode of Dexter on 4G and 5G nano screens and although the picture was only slightly larger on the 5G nano, every little bit helps and the difference between the two was noticeable.

NEXT:Speech and recording


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