Apple iPod nano 5th gen - First Look

Apple has refreshed its entire iPod range in an event in San Francisco, but the model which saw the most new features was the iPod nano. It's been given both hardware and software overhaul in an attempt to make it appeal to a wider market beyond just music. But can the new updates achieve those goals? Pocket-lint was hands-on at the event to find out.

Cutting to the chase, the headline addition is the video camera. Megapixel details aren't being dished out, but what we do know is that the nano will sport a 640 x 480 resolution, which the company is touting as having incredibly clarity.

In our very brief testing, we found the quality good enough - though a 640 x 480 video isn't going to look great pumped through an 40-inch HD TV. The nano is about sharing, not making that indie film.

One puzzling problem we've discovered is that the camera can't take still photos - only video. Apple representatives at the London event told us that it's easy to grab stills from the device when you upload the videos to iMovie, but it seems like a bizarre omission from the device.

The slightly bigger screen didn't make too much of an impact on us it has to be said - it's as competent as its predecessor. Video still looks good when you've not got light shinning on the screen, but it picks up reflections very easily thanks to the gloss finish - something that might cause issues in the light of day.

It's not just about video. There's a number of other additions, too. An FM radio brings the nano up to the standards of other players on the market, but the addition of Genius playlists is more welcome. If you're not sure what you want to listen to, then you can pick a preset playlist automatically compiled from your MP3 collection by the software. No more random German techno amongst your classical collection...

There's a voice recording app, which will probably be most useful for students wanting to record lectures, and a pedometer for fitness enthusiasts to hook up to the Nike+ system. Lastly, there's also the text-to-voice functionality of the shuffle - so you don't have to take your nano out of your pocket to find out what song is playing.

Verdict

As with any Apple product, the nano commands a price premium - in this case, it's £115 for 8GB and £125 for 16GB. You can get an alternative product, like the Sansa Clip, for half that, although the Apple faithful will claim that you don't get the same eco system and support around it.

But when you're buying something from Apple, you know you're getting something good, and the nano, certainly as a music player, won't disappoint. It's packed full of useful functionality and "why didn't the other manufacturers think of that?" features.

Only the omission of a stills setting left us scratching our heads, but that doesn't detract much from what seems, from our brief play, to us to be an excellent, if overpriced, MP3 player and mini video recorder.