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
Despite a number of rumors that Apple's "Rock & Roll" media event would feature a camera-equipped iPod touch, the highlight of Steve Jobs' keynote was actually a new iPod nano outfitted with a video camera. The fifth-generation device is in no way a complete redesign, but rather a refinement of its predecessor. Along with the new camera, the Nano also sports a larger display, FM tuner, gloss finish, and more.
At a glance, the new Nano can be difficult to distinguish from the previous version. The biggest change to the front facade is a larger LCD screen, expanding from 240x320 pixels to a slightly longer 240x376 display. Although the change adds just .2 inches corner-to-corner, the screen now appears to dominate the front face.
The elongated screen brings the aspect ratio closer to 16:9 than the previous 4:3 component. Videos available in 16:9 are much more attractive, requiring less side cropping or annoying black bands when converting down to iPod size. For such a tiny player touted for its video playback capabilities, the new display is a welcome change.
Brightness and color representation of the 5G display appears to be on par with the 4G, not breathtaking but effective for most viewing conditions. With the brightness cranked up, the menus are still easy to read even in moderately bright conditions. Toward the lower end of the scale, the display is dim enough to avoid being blinded when driving at night. Getting to the brightness setting, however, requires quite a few jumps through the interface menus.
Form and finish
Unlike the 4G's anodized finish, which is slightly dull, the 5G case is much shinier. The aluminum exhibits a very fine texture similar to a bead blasted finish. Considering the texture is visible but the case is smooth to the touch, the gloss may be the result of a coating over the anodized layer, although the company has not disclosed any details. Steve Jobs presented it as "polished anodized aluminum," which implies that there isn't a coating.
Only time will tell if the new coating process was a good choice. A variety of other products with similar coatings look terrible after the outer layer starts to wear off in places. The gloss layer is likely to protect the metal and color for a period of time, but the worn areas may eventually become glaringly obvious. This might not be an issue for devices that are always kept in cases, or for users that handle their devices with kid gloves.Ultra-shininess might be in line with the fashion side of Apple's design, but matte aluminum arguably gives the 4G a higher-quality appearance.
Apple may have made the right decision to retain the elliptical form-factor of the 4G Nano. Design changes are sometimes welcome, especially after the company stumbled with the stubby 3G model that looks like a shortened Classic. However there is no need to prematurely retire a device that has proven popular and capable of fitting additional features.
The first two Nano generations carried a similar appearance to the current model, although Apple was still experimenting with the concept. The company has evolved certain elements that are recognizable across a variety of products, even though each addresses a unique niche. The current elliptical form-factor can be seen with many newer products such as the MacBook Air, iPod touch and iPhone.