Nano changes make it a fun little gadget

September 23, 2009 By Etan Horowitz
New iPod Nano

There really wasn't much Apple needed to do to its iPod nano, which the company claims is the world's best-selling MP3 player.

It has been able to display photos and play for a few years, and part of the reason it's so popular is because it's small enough to use while you work out, but big enough to include a screen for song information, video viewing and other features.

Yet despite all that, earlier this month -- as in the previous three Septembers -- Apple CEO stood onstage in California and introduced the latest enhancements to the nano and other iPods. As usual, prices were dropped and features were added.

The new, fifth-generation iPod nano saw the biggest changes, with Apple improving the device by making it more of a Swiss army-like gadget that could replace other gizmos you own. The nano ($149 for 8GB, $179 for 16GB) can now record video and audio, and serve as an FM radio and pedometer. The screen is slightly larger (2.2 inches), and it has a more polished look.

To be sure, adding an FM radio isn't exactly a thrilling new feature, but the nano's radio is different from many others. You can set favorite stations and pause live radio for up to 15 minutes. Many stations display the artist name and song title, and if you hear a song you like, you can "tag" it so you can buy it on iTunes the next time you connect your nano to your computer.

Not all stations support iTunes tagging, but in Orlando, the feature is supported by several stations including XL 106.7, Magic 107.7, WJRR 101.1 and Rumba 100.3.

Being able to record video on a device roughly the size of two fingers is pretty amazing. You can record in either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) orientation, and there's a built-in microphone to capture sound. The video quality is surprisingly good, even in low-light situations, but I wouldn't throw out your pocket video camera (like the Flip or Kodak models) just yet.

That's because it's not very comfortable to hold the iPod to record video. The video camera and microphone are in the bottom backside of the nano, which is the most natural place to grasp the device when holding it vertically. Rotating the iPod moves your fingers away from the camera, but I tended to place my thumb on the screen, making it hard to see what I was recording.

One great thing about the is that it includes 15 video effects you can apply when you shoot video, including black-and-white, security cam, X-ray and, my personal favorite, an effect that gives your video that old-time grainy-film look. You won't find built-in video effects like this on the Flip cameras or even the iPhone 3GS. You can play recorded videos on the iPod or connect the device to your computer to e-mail or upload your movies to Facebook, YouTube and other sites.

The voice recorder is similar to the one on the iPhone and iPod touch, which lets you record voice notes, interviews or lectures and play them back on the device or on your computer. The pedometer lets you keep track of how much you are walking and set daily goals. If you have a Nike+ account, you can upload the nano's pedometer data to your online account.

To let you play back your recorded videos and voice memos, Apple had to add a speaker, something missing from all iPods (except the iPod touch) for years. And though the speaker quality isn't nearly good enough to fill a room with sound, it's nice to not have to always use headphones or external speakers to listen to music or watch videos. You cannot play the through the nano's built-in speaker because the device requires a headphone or speaker cord to tune in stations.

Despite's Apple's claims, I don't think the will pose a serious threat to the Flip Video cameras; it's not a good choice for recording long videos because it's hard to hold. However, there is no other device on the market that is so small and has so many features, so it's a great choice for a multiuse gadget to carry in your pocket that won't take up a lot of room and will keep you entertained and allow you to record some fun videos.

(c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Visit the Sentinel on the World Wide Web at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: iPod Nano to come with video camera

Related Stories

iPod Nano to come with video camera

September 9, 2009

Apple announced on Wednesday that it was adding a video camera to its iPod Nano and cutting prices of its wildly popular music players.

Review: New iPod Nano impresses, Zune improves

September 16, 2009

(AP) -- Back in 2004, when I got my first MP3 player, I never cared that it lacked a camera, Web browser and crystal-clear video playback - features that are now common on digital media devices.

Apple Unveils New 1GB iPod nano

February 7, 2006

Apple today unveiled a new 1GB iPod nano for $149, offering the same features as the 2GB and 4GB iPod nano models and holding up to 240 songs or 15,000 photos. The new 1GB iPod nano’s ultra-portable design is thinner than ...

Apple Goes One Better: iPod Touch 8GB & 16GB

September 27, 2007

The Apple iPod Touch incorporates the features of iPhone to create a sleek and slim, music, TV, Web access and drive-in movie with the convenience of portability. The iPod Touch is only 8 millimeters wide with an amazing ...

Apple CEO Jobs on stage, discusses transplant

September 9, 2009

(AP) -- Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs returned Wednesday to the showman role that has helped define his company leadership, taking the stage for the first time since his medical leave to announce such new products as an iPod ...

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.