By Tham Yuen-C
|Apple iPod Nano
|» Price: $228
» Available: from the Apple Store (www.apple.com.sg/store)
SLEEK and cool, the iPod Nano looks like it belongs in a spy movie.
However, you could hardly call it a spy gadget. Until now.
That is because the fifth generation of Apple's most popular music player now comes with a video camera - and a very unobtrusive one at that.
The only physical evidence of the camera is a speck of black - the lens - at the bottom left corner of the back shell.
There is no light that comes on to indicate you are recording, no lens cover to open or close and no noise when it starts up.
There is not even the typical red Start button to press. To turn on the video camera, select the Video Camera option under the main menu, then press the middle of the click wheel to start recording.
This makes it the perfect tool for those who like to film surreptitiously.
I can see citizen journalists using it to record acts of public nuisance and then posting them online.
Stealth factor aside, the Nano's camera shoots acceptable videos for most video-sharing and social networking purposes (read: where quality is second to content).
When played on my computer, the 640 x 480 standard definition clips were slightly pixellated. A video I shot in a dimly lit restaurant also failed to pick up details like the decor on the walls.
For spontaneous filming, there is no shortage of fun features. There are 16 special effects you can add to your videos, ranging from Sepia to X-ray and even Cyborg.
My favourite effect, Film, adds some graininess and scratches to make the video look like an old movie shot on film.
One nifty feature I really like is the effects menu which lets you preview what your video will look like before you decide which effect to pick. To activate it, just click and hold the centre button.
I also like that you can delete videos directly on the Nano, something you cannot do with songs.
So, delete the bad clips and leave room - it comes in 8GB and 16GB capacities - for the good ones.
There are some let-downs.
One is that the Nano cannot shoot stills.
The positioning of its lens also makes it a little awkward for right-handed people. When shooting in landscape mode, my finger strayed over the lens, seated at the edge of the top right corner, more than once.
Apple has added some goodies to the Nano.
It now comes with a microphone so you do not need to buy an add-on to do voice recordings.
There are also built-in speakers, though they sound rather tinny.
The video camera and microphone are definitely cool additions, but if you can do without the frills, stick with your old Nano.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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