iPod nano (Fifth-generation) full review


Speech and recording

The 5G iPod nano also expands on some of its sibling’s features. For example, the 4G iPod nano introduced a Spoken Menus feature that, when enabled, allowed the iPod to speak the name of highlighted commands, screens, and controls. This was a boon to the visually impaired or blind, allowing them to finally navigate an iPod.

The 5G iPod nano retains this feature but also adds a separate VoiceOver feature. With VoiceOver engaged, you can hear the name of the currently playing tune within the Now Playing screen by pressing the Center button.

You don’t have to be visually impaired to find this useful. VoiceOver is a far safer way to learn the name of a song and its artist than taking your eyes off the road while driving with an iPod. VoiceOver kits are available for Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

VoiceOver can be enabled without also switching on Spoken Menus. However, if you enable Spoken Menus in iTunes, VoiceOver is also turned on. You can switch Spoken Menus off within the iPod’s General settings screen. The only way to turn off VoiceOver, however, is to disable the option in iTunes and then sync the iPod.

Voice Memos were not new to the 4G iPod nano—the nano’s been able to record memos with a compatible microphone since the second-generation model. What is new is that you no longer need a microphone to record these memos. Just choose Voice Memos from the Extras screen and you’ll see a screen reminiscent of the iPhone’s Voice Memos application.

Press the Center button and the nano starts recording through the built-in microphone. The 5G nano saves its recordings as 128kbps AAC stereo files. The previous nano saved files in a mono Apple Lossless format.

Note that you needn’t flip the nano around and shout at the mic to make yourself heard: the mic will pick up your voice either way. However, if you do speak into the back of the iPod you’ll get better results—both in terms of volume and representation of your voice.

I got a richer baritone sound by flipping the iPod around to the back, as opposed to a somewhat tinny sound when I talked to the front of the iPod. As with the previous recording-capable nanos, voice memos are moved to your iTunes library when you sync the iPod.

NEXT: Radio


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