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Nano technology

With Apple’s new iPod Nano you can record videos and listen to FM Radio. About time, we say, reports Shayne Rana.

tech reviews Updated: Sep 28, 2009 19:51 IST
Shayne Rana

Apple has recently revamped its iPod Nano to include an on-board video camera. It’s a bit surprising that Apple would introduce a camera on its Nano rather than on the larger iPod Touch.

Form
Apple has decided to go with consistency and that’s a good thing. I loved the design of the fourth generation Nano. It’s still a slim, sexy player with Apple’s ‘proprietary’ Click wheel navigation system. What makes it even more appealing is that the new range is available in a polished aluminium shell with a glossy finish.

The display has been made larger — 2.2” — from the earlier 2 inches. Then there’s the VGA video camera on the rear. The placement is problematic, because when you’re shooting in portrait your finger almost always comes in the way. Shooting in landscape, however, is not a problem.

The new Nano is still an extremely light-weight device. You could also go in for the optional accessory pouches in case you use your player while working out.

Interface
The display’s Cover Flow technology works just fine for viewing albums in landscape mode. Apple has still not extended this feature to the entire menu. The new Nano also has FM Radio. The UI is still easy to use and very fluid.

Music and Radio
Once again, the audio quality has remained the same with great quality and volume.

The placement of the EQ settings is annoying, though, as it requires you to go pretty deep into the system just to select a preset. You can also use the Genius Mixes feature to create playlists.

The Search option comes handy if you are looking for something specific. Another useful feature is the Shake-to-Shuffle.
The FM reception is great, and even though there’s no auto-scan, it’s a cinch locating and storing presets. The Nano also has a Live Pause option that actually let’s you pause the radio and pick up exactly where you left off.

Video
The 0.2-inch increase in the display hasn’t really made watching videos any better, but the display is clearer than that on most mobile handsets. Viewing short clips isn’t too much of a strain; say goodbye to your full length movies.

The video recording is simply superb. It records in a 640 x 480 pixel resolution, which is perfect for videos that you can upload to sites like YouTube, etc. It may not be better than some mobile phone videos, but it’s still pretty good.

The various settings on the recorder include Sepia, Film Grain (which gives it an old horror movie look), Thermal (which looks quite psychedelic) Security cam, Motion Blur, Kaleido, and more. My personal favourite is the Cyborg mode.

Of course, a still camera would have been nice too, but this is the first branded DAP (digital audio player) with a camera on board.

Video files can be accessed easily. As soon as the player is plugged in, it goes into Mass Storage mode so you can simply copy paste the files onto your PC’s drive. No iTunes required. Brilliant!

Features
There’s an image viewer with a slide show option, a feature for Podcasts, a couple of motion-based games and an alarm clock that’s not loud enough to wake the neighbours. Contacts, calendar entries, notes, etc can be synced via iTunes. A world clock and stopwatch are also present.

New features include the voice recorder that lets you create voice memos. The built-in microphone actually has a pretty good range too.

Apple has also preloaded a Pedometer for the fitness freaks who exercise with their Nano close at hand. They can now also keep track of how far they’ve walked and how many calories they’ve lost. You can feed your weight in, and set a goal for how much distance you’d like to cover daily. It stores earlier settings so you can keep track of previous workouts.

Battery
The one major issue with the Nano is its battery, which still hasn’t been fixed. It seems to get drained even when not in use. With nothing running in the background, reduced screen brightness, no clicker sound or alarm beeps, the device still got drained soon.

A two-hour movie and about an hour of another was what the Nano could muster as far as video playback is concerned. Music playback clocked in about 15 hours. (Apple talks about 24 hours of playback on a full charge.)