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
Microphone and speaker
An integrated microphone marks another new feature for the Nano, with a port located directly beside the camera lens. The demo video was captured in an area with a steady breeze approximately 5-7mph, although the noise only became objectionable when the mic port was pointing directly into the wind. Voice from the short narration was recorded clearly, while people feeding fish are also audible from across a bridge.
A new speaker allows users to show videos directly from the device, although the small driver is tucked away behind the metal case. Not surprisingly, sound quality is poor but sufficient for listening to voices and most noise from the recordings. The speaker enhances calendar and alarm functionality, with audible alerts even without headphones.
Apple also uses the mic for a voice recorder function. The app allows users to insert chapter points and organize memos. Recording personal notes works great, however the mic does not perform as well when attempting to record several people in a large room.
New software features
The Nano now supports VoiceOver, the text-to-speech feature introduced with the Shuffle. Users can easily look at the screen to find track info in most situations, but VoiceOver offers an attractive option for runners or skiers using earphones with remote control instead of diving into pockets. The function works as expected, although, like automated voices on GPS systems, mispronunciations are common.
The accelerometer is now used as a pedometer to track the number of steps throughout a walk or run. The feature is not exactly the same as the Nike+iPod system, as it takes data from the iPod accelerometer instead of a remote sensor in a shoe. The pedometer counted steps properly when in a pocket or held upright, although some slipped through while it was held horizontally. Users can then view daily stats or set fitness goals, although the pedometer is geared mostly for walkers instead of runners.
Runners, however, can take advantage of the new Nike+iPod support, without an iPod attachment, after purchasing special shoes or a standalone sensor. The shoe-based sensor is used to calculate additional metrics such as distance, pace and calories burned. The system works okay for users with relatively consistent pace or stride. Accuracy of distance measurements deteriorates for runners that adjust their stride length while keeping the same pace.
Apple finally folded to demands for an FM tuner, which integrates with the company's other services. The radio requires headphones, used as an antenna, while the interface displays RDS data for track names and station info. If a great song starts to play, users can tag it and download the content via iTunes.
The RDS features and song tagging sound great and probably work in most areas, but the data is not available everywhere. Even where it is available, the data sometimes lists incorrect track info. Users can rewind as far back as 15 minutes into the feed, however, and potentially listen for the song name from a radio DJ. Live Pause also works well for talk radio, enabling users to take a short phone call and rewind back to where they left off. As the next commercial break arrives, the feed can be sent back forward to catch up with the live broadcast.
Apple has taken the updated Genius feature from iTunes and integrated it directly with the device software. The function works well, especially for users with eclectic music collections that like to listen by genre or artist. The system is not revolutionary, but it is a step forward from random shuffling. The only problem involves tracks with incomplete or inaccurate tag information, although the vast majority of iTunes-purchased content is organized correctly.