Apple iPod Nano (5th generation)

Not sure which new iPod to choose? The Nano's fifth incarnation wins hands down, with FM tuner and video camera being more than just cheap gimmicks.

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I'm seeing double!

Don't let its appearance fool you. There's a lot that's new about the Nano fifth generation despite its similarities to the previous incarnations, not the least being the addition of a video camera at the back of the device. The screen has also had a boost to 2.2 inches (up from 2 inches) and though it looks a little odd on first inspection it certainly grows on you — no pun intended. It's still ridiculously thin and light, hardly tipping the scales at 36.4g.

Available in a kaleidoscopic array of nine colours, the capacities are still 8GB (AU$199) and 16GB (AU$249, a price drop of AU$30 from the previous Nano at launch). The glossy surface also adds another layer of interest to the exterior configuration, and is pleasingly scratch-resistant. After a few days of having it rustle up next to a collection of keys and other domestic accoutrements that wreaked havoc on something like the silver back platter of the iPod Classic, the Nano came away mostly unscathed. The minute hold switch is still at the top left and all other connections (headphones and iPod dock) are at the base, though the configuration has been swapped from the 4th generation, with headphone and dock changing sides.


An upgrade to iTunes 9 is required to use this version of the Nano, but it enables a few new features like Genius Mixes, which makes its debut here. Essentially, the Nano creates custom mixes based on a loose appropriation of the genres present on your pod thanks to the alchemy of the Genius logic — such as Alternative & Punk, Hip-Hop/Rap or Electronic to name a few. These are fully automated so there's no extra work on your part to activate them, but do note that the iPod does need to be synced with iTunes to use this feature.

Just like the previous generation, Nano number five displays its home menus with a list of the standard options at the top (music, movies, podcasts and so on) with a rotating strip of album art or, more intriguingly, stills from videos you have captured on the device. The accelerometer also orients the cover flow display and photo display on the screen. Audio file formats that the Nano can play back include MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV and Apple Lossless.

Side by side by side ... Cover Flow in action. (Credit: CBSi)

Pound the pavement.
(Credit: CBSi)

Exercisers are also catered for with the addition of a pedometer to track steps taken and the ability to sync with a Nike+iPod account. Under the appropriately named heading Fitness, a daily step goal and your weight can also be set, with the calendar displaying progress in terms of calories expended and the number of steps taken. Shake to shuffle is another one of those "love it or hate it" features and suffers the same fate as the scroll wheel — it's either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. It's also a bit temperamental in terms of what motion it deems acceptably "shaky": we found that a simple up and down motion worked better than the side-to-side action.

Apple rates the Nano's video playback at five hours rather than the four that the previous player managed. Audio is rated for 24 hours which is also impressive, though we found that after a full day of playing music on shuffle, and using features intermittently like the video camera and pedometer, the battery was nearly exhausted.

Video and the radio star

One of the most noted absences on all versions of the iPod has been an FM tuner, and it seems that years on Apple has finally taken notice and acquiesced. Not content to do things by halves, the Nano's radio is one of the most innovative on a portable music player, most notably as it's capable of pausing, rewinding and tracking live radio. Once the Nano has successfully tuned into a station, via the scroll wheel on a pleasingly retro tuner interface, it begins buffering the broadcast so you can pause, rewind and resume up to 15 minutes of audio from the point at which you began listening. Rewinding and fast-forwarding through the buffered audio works in one minute increments, stamped with the original broadcast's time.

It's just like listening to Fireside Chats on the wireless! (Credit: CBSi)

Track name display also works well too, though your radio station of choice will have to be equipped with RDS (Radio Data System) to broadcast this information and more often than not only the large commercial stations will be able to do so. Fortunately, if this is where your tastes lie, once you hear a song that piques your interest, you can "tag" the track to find later in iTunes.

Though the video camera is only VGA resolution its clips are impressive for such a small lens and microphone. Encoding is taken care of in H.264 at 30 frames per second, with iTunes-friendly MP4 files being the output. The camera's placement is a little odd though, for such a forward-thinking design powerhouse like Apple. Why on earth put the camera at the base of the Nano where you're most likely to grip it? Your palm will be making more starring roles than ever before unless you orient the Nano to landscape.

Preset video filters are included — like black and white, sepia and x-ray — which can be applied and processed over the video in real time. There's no provision for still image capture and we can only wonder why Apple would have left off such functionality. iPod Nano sixth gen, maybe? Also there's no option to tweak any shooting settings like contrast, saturation or brightness.

The microphone on the back also doubles as a primitive ghetto blaster when the headphones are unplugged and — here's the surprise — the sound isn't all that bad, though just mentioning this feature is giving us visions of obnoxious commuters unplugging their headphones for all the world to hear on the morning train ride to work. It's also worth noting that the headphones act as an antenna for the radio so you won't be able to ghetto-blast your way with radio coming out of the internal speaker.

Sound quality is relatively similar to previous iPods. The bundled headphones do a capable job of rendering FM-quality broadcasts but fall a little flat when it comes to high-quality audio files, and still struggle with sounds at either extremes — rolling, deep bass or high trebles came out a little squidgy for our tastes. The equaliser didn't make much of a discernible difference either, and there's still no ability to make custom presets. The best option for audiophiles is still to invest in a dedicated pair of headphones.

Thanks to the elongated screen, watching video is a lot nicer as it provides more scope for widescreen. Playback is also nice and smooth like it was on the fourth generation. Voice memo recording is also easier to use as there is no need to buy compatible headphones, just use the internal microphone. Unfortunately, there's no way to monitor the recording so observing the visual gauge on the screen is the only indication of levels that's available. Again, the placement of the microphone doesn't make for a particularly pleasing recording experience, as it's far too easy to leave your hand over the mic as noted earlier.

Should I buy it?

The candybar design and colours will undoubtedly sway many teetering on the edge of to Nano or not to Nano, and the addition of an FM radio and pedometer will go down well with those looking for a lightweight device to take jogging or to cart around as their primary media player. We doubt the video camera alone will entice that many people to upgrade, but with a range of useful features the fifth generation is the sleekest and most enticing version yet. For the price it will be hard to beat.

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david vanbawi posted a comment   

Sorry guys
My review is on Ipod Nano 7th generation but not on 5th generation. It's flash light for the camera not flash night. Check my comments below or above before continuing to read further.

Finish reading my previous comments... Good then
I accidently upload my comment twice so again sorry.


david vanbawi posted a comment   

The Good: Thinner,larger screen and higher resolution, Bluetooth, longer
lasting hour
The Bad: No camera, Home screen circle apps looks suck, can not remove
apps if want to, no speaker and whats the point of having home
button when I can only slide only once

Future Ipod nano: In 2013 the 8th generation Ipod nano must include hd camera
and must not be located at the base but must be locate at the top. There should be brightness, contrast, effects and flash night for shooting photo at night.
There should be an ability to add wallpapers from Pc.
There should be a date displaying and it should show the
percentage of how many battery life is left. There should be a
new feature which would be weather forecast and there should
be a wifi to display that as we all already should know. With wifi
there should be an ability to send songs,videos,pictures from
one Ipod to another Ipod without always having to use Itunes
from Pc everytime we need to add something to it. There should
also be longer viewing videos like 10 hours of viewing videos.
Please don't make it any thinner and change the design of the
apps display on the screen. Another thing for the camera, there
should be front and back camera and facetime using wifi.
Finally there should be speaker and an ability to delete songs instead of using Itunes to delete songs .Let's hope that these new features will be add in the 8th generations.Please include them for the sake of all Ipod Nano Fans.


I'mjusthereforthefreefood posted a review   

The Good:Slim, Attractive design, wide range of colours, extremley durable.

The Bad:very touchy {the shuffle feature} camera position, still photo's, batterey life,

I am not a huge fan of the nano, yes it looks good and has pretty colours and you can drop it heaps but the extra features are rubbish, and you could do without, dont get me started on how light handed it is, and it shuffles if you flick your wrist, even when its off, it wastes battery! their are many things not to like about it, if you want quality and easy of use, please please buy an iriver e150, they may not look as good, but are far better!!! please trust me =]


ipodcollector posted a review   

The Good:Packed with features very portable and very sexy device

The Bad:no still images,placement for the camera

I must say when i first got this Apple has done an fantastic job to pack alot of new features into this bad boy like a video camera which people has been waiting for a very long time.The Video camera ins't the best but worth a go for such a small device.The camera still takes 480p videos which is in between so it isn't the worst.Next is the larger display,The larger display makes it wonderful for watching movies and view photos in widescreen format.The other thing is a Build in speaker it is not the worst but still it's about the same as the 2nd gen touch.please vist my Youtube channel for unboxings and more (Holdencommstra)


Kelso posted a review   

The Good:Slim, easy to use (6yr Daughter), colours, speaker

The Bad:Camera is in a bad spot & doesn't take still images.

Does anyone no how to get the speaker to work once the earphones have been disconncted.. It worked the 1st time but not now??? ;(


Smiles posted a reply   

sometimes to get the specker 2 work after disconncting the ear phone you just need to press play or you can start the song again


Smiles posted a review   

The Good:radio, size, video camera

The Bad:placement of camera, can't take photos

It is a pretty cool little thing to have if your not that intpo touch screens or if you can't afford them
i love every thing about it but i love to take photos and not videos, i'm all for getting the whole moment on tape but photo's are way better. the placement of the carmera is also kinda stupid most of the time my finger is covering the lens so you can't see any thing :(

i think the only reson that you may get this is if you need some place 4 ur music


Sashs posted a review   

The Good:Mostly Everything

The Bad:Accidental Lock, shuffle, accidental cover flow

I really love this iPod, however, since i have over 900 + songs, there has been the odd time when I have found the perfect song, and then I have shaken the iPod by accident and it has shuffled.
As per screen lock, just plug the iPod into iTunes.


Izzy posted a review   

The Good:Light and slim & radio

The Bad:Battery life & camera position

To start with the good things about it; it's light, slim and easy to hold and seems reasonably durable (I've dropped it a few times on pavement and it didn't even scratch). The cover flow has very nice visuals, but I prefer not to use it, but rather just use the written list. It also has a FM radio which is a welcome addition. The radio can also be paused which is useful. The games are pretty fun to, but I wouldn't recommend buying any new games for this on iTunes as all the rest are crap especially as there is no touchscreen.
The cons of it include battery life. It lasts for about 8 hours, if you're not constantly changing the songs etc. The camera lens is in an awkward place where you would usually place your hands. I wouldn't have been pleased if it had a touchscreen as using the circle scroller sometimes gets annoyingly fiddly. You can't take pictures, but can only take videos and if you want pictures on your iPod you need to sync them and you can't even zoom into them.
Though there are obvious flaws, I would still recommend it if you just want an easy to use music player.


Kilz posted a comment   

The Good:More music variety

The Bad:unable to unlock screen

Can someone out there let me how to unlock the screen
I'am told you simply press menu and play/pause simultaniuosly but it doesn't work. Any other suggestions?


Sash posted a reply   

I was stuck with a locked iPod for a while, however, I came upon a brainwave-simply connect you iPod to iTunes and that will automatically unlock it. Just make sure that once you've done that, to disable the lock feature. Bonne chance!

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User Reviews / Comments  Apple iPod Nano (5th generation)

  • david vanbawi

    david vanbawi

    "Sorry guys
    My review is on Ipod Nano 7th generation but not on 5th generation. It's flash light for the camera not flash night. Check my comments below or above before continuing to read fur..."

  • david vanbawi

    david vanbawi

    "The Good: Thinner,larger screen and higher resolution, Bluetooth, longer
    lasting hour
    The Bad: No camera, Home screen circle apps looks suck, can not remove

  • I'mjusthereforthefreefood



    "I am not a huge fan of the nano, yes it looks good and has pretty colours and you can drop it heaps but the extra features are rubbish, and you could do without, dont get me started on how light ha..."

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