The iPod Nano 5th Generation Review
by Doina Stefanescu | December 8, 2009
On the outside
The last iPod Nano, fifth generation, is available in the dual format of either 8 or 16 GB, priced at $149 and $179. Which is quite an acceptable price in the current range of competitive models, although the storage space might have been a little bit increased, given that this Nano also has video capacity.
The iPod Nano 5 G is similar in shape with the 4G, but that's as far as similarities go. The screen received an upgrade, from 2 inches to 2.2., changing rather drastically the Nano look, giving it more space to navigate and to view photos and videos. Implicitly, the resolution changed, from 240x320 to 240x376, which is a weird scale, but I guess Apple pushed the tiny gadget to the limits, trying to get as much viewable space as possible from the 3.6 x 1.5 x 0.24 inches, 36,4 grams media player. This little MP still doesn't have a real 16x9 widescreen ratio, but the sharper and brighter display make up for it.
The larger screen trespassed on the click wheel space, which is smaller than previous versions, so this might be a slight disadvantage towards people who fidget around it, trying to hit the right button. Personally, I thought it was ok.
Another new thing is the anodized aluminum coating, which makes all colors on the iPod Nano 5th gen look shinier and brighter than those of previous generations with a matte finish, but I have to say that all colors are still a bit darker than those displayed at apple.com. So keep in mind, that what you see is not really what you get, so it's best if you check them out live at a store. But as they are, the Nanos are definitely shinier and feel a little lighter. Although they are quite sturdy, they won't bend or brake easily, they scratch easier than previous versions, as I found out by keeping one in my bag together with some pencils and keys (unfortunately).
On the inside
The Video Camera is the big novelty regarding the 5th generation of Nanos. This feature enables the iPod 5G to compete with the Flip and Kodak's small Zi8 and other pocket cameras, or at least this is what Steve Jobs has said himself.
So, similar with small pocket cameras, the iPod Nano 5G doesn't have an optical zoom, and it can only video record, not take still photos. You can not edit videos once they are made, they can only be deleted. The resolution is VGA, 640x480, a lot less than current pocket cams that are HD and at about the same price. But small clips meant for YouTube for example, don't need much more than basic VGA, and the Nano has some extra creative video filters, which are fun but also compensate the video limitations. These are thermal, mirror, X-ray, motion blur, sepia, cyborg and others.
As far Steve Jobs' words go, the camera is a cool and fun extra option, but not really worth while all unto itself.
The lens is placed in the lower right corner on the back, which is a weird place to put it, since everyone tends to put their fingers in the way of the lens when flipping the Nano to the left, but you get used to it. The accelerometer adjust the image either way. Videos are limited only by the storage space available.
In low light conditions, the camera doesn't act very well, in fact videos come out poorly and blurry. In macro mode, the Nano 5G camera provides sharper clearer pictures, managing quite well for a VGA camera. In normal light conditions, the Nano 5G camera acts pretty well, considering the size of the tiny lens that was managed to be included in the already tiny device.
The microphone is situated next to the camera lens and it does a good job of recording sound. Speaking can be re-played quite accurately, even quiet conversations. It doesn't do too well in outdoor conditions, as wind and outdoor noises disrupt the audio recording, but other than hurricanes the iPod Nano 5G performs well.
Users should keep in mind the fact that the iPod Nano 5 generation is not an all-in-one media center, but a portable media player with a built-in camera, which is just an extra, not a main feature. So you wouldn't buy the Nano just for the camera. If you need a small pocket camera, there are plenty other HD pocket camcorders in the same price range that work really well. But if you do buy a Nano 5G you definitely won't be sorry, and the camera might prove to be enough as far as small video recorders go.
The Radio is quite a novelty for Apple products, but not one for the rest of players on the market, who had included this feature a long time ago. Apple finally fell in line with the others by introducing a real FM radio with the iPod Nano 5G. The FM tuner itself is not something out of the ordinary, like maybe HD radio, but it has a certain level of quality and extra features that proves it was not just a last addition.
While it works with the headphones as antenna, it has a good reception, and it also scannes for station name and song title. Users can then keep the song title data in order to tag favorite songs that can later be bought from iTunes. One of the radio features that stands out is the “Live Pause”, where the user can pause the radio for up to 15 minutes, and it caches it to memory. The cache portion can be browsed afterwards, although radio songs can not be actually recorded and saved.
A new and really nice feature of the iPod Nano 5 G is the pedometer, which works rather well, although it's not an entirely complete replacement for the Nike+ kit. When running, it tends to miss count the steps like adding or taking a few more, but I guess it depends on how fast or slow you walk, and for long distances everything works out. The pedometer can tell how many calories were burned in the process, so easy jogs can be handled with the Nano 5G.
The built-in speaker and voice recorder. The Nano 5G has a built-in tiny speaker on the bottom of the device that, while it's not exactly loud or sharp in quality, it's audible in quiet rooms. The speaker is suitable for speeches and videos, rather than playing back music, because tunes tend to sound a little washed out. But I used it a lot as an alarm, while being docked, and I liked it a lot. You can put it to snooze, while staying in bed a little more and listen to your favorite songs. It's also handy for sharing videos with friends, without needing headphones.
The voice recorder can work for voice memos, because while the sound quality is good, it doesn't do a good job for recording from long distances. When recording loud music, the sounds come out too distorted, so it's not a valid option for recording out doors, or loud music, like concerts.
Until now, the iPod Nano is the best seller of media players, the new Nano 5 generation rises up to expectations. All in all, it is an extraordinary small and thin device based on a popular software, at an affordable price. The new features set it apart from the other players in the Apple family, as the video camera is not included on other MPs like the iPod Touch. Rumors say that the iTouch will be the next choice for media fans, and that sales would drop for dedicated small players such as the Nano. As such, the addition of radio and, moreover, the camera are meant to counter or delay this change.
The Nano can not really compete with other major players on the market, such as the Zune HD, or Sony X series, but in its own purpose range, it does a very good job, representing a good choice if you're after a sleek and impressive little media player.
Height: 3.6 inches (90.7 mm)
Width: 1.5 inches (38.7 mm)
Depth: 0.24 inch (6.2 mm)
Weight: 1.28 ounces (36.4 grams)
Capacity: 8GB or 16GB flash drive
Display: 2.2-inch (diagonal) TFT display / 240x376 pixel resolution
Video Capture: H.264 VGA video, 640x480 pixels, up to 30 frames per second with AAC audio
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Click on a star to rate this article.
It would have been nicer if apple had kept the anodised aluminium finish of the previous nano instead of the polished finish which scratches incredibly easy. Also the speakers aren't that good but overall it's quite a nice product.
Yeah, the speakers can't quite handle a place with some noise, and they sound pretty distorted to me, but it's a nice feature to set as a morning alarm for example.
The iPod Nano 5G does not work on an xbox 360...
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