Apple outfits 5G iPod nano with video camera (September 11th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Apple
Price: $149 - $179
- Video camera
- Larger display
- FM with RDS and rewind
- Mic for voice recording
- Speaker for video playback
- Easy video uploading
- Camera lens smudges easily
- Camera position awkward
- No still pictures
- Weak speaker
- Prone to camera shake
One of the only issues with the 5G Nano design involves the camera placement. Considering the components were already cramped in the 4G, adding a 3mm-thick camera module within a 6-mm thick case probably left few options. Thicker devices can place the camera behind the display, eliminating the need for a fancy hold.
Apple built the camera into the bottom-left corner of the rear panel. When holding the iPod vertically for navigating through menus and using most of the standard functions, the user's fingers rest directly on top of the camera. Consequently, smudges on the lens cover are practically unavoidable without removing finger prints before each use.
When capturing video with the iPod held horizontally, an instinctive grip results in a finger partially blocking the lens. The right hand must pinch the bottom of the housing below the camera, or the index finger needs to rest on the very top ridge. Although it is probably an issue easily adapted too, initial experiences can be frustrating. Tricky placement of the right hand necessitates a solid grip with the left hand, but the smudges simply migrate to the front display.
With such a tiny camera, even a small amount of residue or grime affects picture quality. The Nano lens cover is nearly flush with the case exterior, instead of utilizing a recessed design. This is a double-edged sword, as recessed lenses are less prone to fingerprints but much more difficult to clean. Leaving the glass flush leads to more fingerprints, however users can quickly clear the surface without any problem.
The new Nano, although capable of recording video, lacks the ability to simply take pictures. Reasons for the restricted ability remain unclear, although the camera's 640x480 resolution is better suited for YouTube clips. Even with the current state of technology miniaturization, inexpensive camera components capable of still-quality resolutions are probably too thick to fit in the 6.2mm case. The Nano camera has been crammed into a 4.3mm space near the thin edge. The lack of still capture is still disappointing, especially after seeing several alleged images of a camera-equipped iPod touch prototype.
With a resolution of just 640x480 pixels, the device is clearly not a contender amongst the multitude of small 720p camcorders. The new Nano isn't designed to be a replacement for dedicated video recorders, and buyers shouldn't expect it to be. The recording capability allows users to capture scenes spontaneously, just in case something interesting happens when a standalone camera isn't around.
Considering the limited resolution and small size, the camera actually exceeded initial expectations. Footage shot from inside a moving vehicle, shown in the YouTube video, did not show excessive motion blur when aimed out the side window going 55mph. The camera also performed well capturing the movement of birds and water, without much hesitation from the automatic light adjustment when moving from bright skies to dark areas. Camera shake is difficult to avoid, especially considering the device weighs in at a scant 1.28 oz.
Apple provides a wide variety of built-in special effects, although many of them are novelties unlikely to be used in any practical application. Along with the common filters such as sepia or black-and-white, users can also apply psychedelic distortions that mimic a kaleidoscope, mirror, old film or x-ray images.
All of the videos are recorded in H.264 format at 30 frames per second. Mac users can automatically upload the clips into iPhoto or iMovie for easy editing before saving projects or sending the clips off to portals such as YouTube. The demo video is a compilation of multiple clips pieced together with transitions in iMovie. The whole process is extremely quick and easy, eliminating the need for configuring devices or import settings.