New iPod Nano in hand, we promptly tested the video camera and the crazy video-record filters. They're fun, but the camera itself is positioned awkwardly.
We found out that the camera's unfortunate placement (on the lower left of the back, if you're holding it normally) is due to there not being enough space to cram it in under the screen. The accelerometer adjusts if you want to hold it some other way, but the natural position for taking video is made harder by the location of the lens.
Why can't the Nano take still photography? Let's hear it from Steve Jobs himself, via the New York Times:
The sensors for doing video are fairly thin. The sensors for doing a still camera, at much higher pixel resolution - and we'd really like to have autofocus - they are just way too thick to ever fit inside the Nano.
This is the "cyborg" filter. Very geeky and cool, and matches perfectly with the tunes we were blasting (it's LP by Discovery, for the record). Notice that you can actually hear the click of the button right as the video stops.
The scratchy film-strip filter is great for arty shots of the back of Brian Lam's head.
This one's a security-cam type filter that makes these innocent passersby seem suspicious.
This is the normal setting (no filter) on a bright and sunny San Francisco day. You can see that the colours are a little washed out and due to the awkward placement of the lens itself, my finger blocks part of the shot.
These next two are for comparison. This one is taken by the Nano, a simple rotating panoramic with differing light and a lot of color. The next is the exact same video, but taken with a Flip Mino.
This is the Flip. The colour reproduction is definitely better on the Flip (most notably in those flowers outside the window), and the video is noticeably sharper as well. But all in all, it's not a huge difference, which is very much to the Nano's credit.
Low light, predictably, is not the Nano's strong suit. It's serviceable, and obviously pocket camcorders like the Flip and Vado aren't all that much better, but you're going to want to have some decent lighting when using the Nano's camera.
Closeups are also a weak point for the Nano—its 640x480 resolution, with no macro mode, is just not detailed enough to pick up the nuances of this gold sparkly thing on Brian's bookshelf. But like the low light shows, if you're looking for the Nano to have amazing video capabilities, you probably haven't noticed that it's actually a super thin mp3 player and not an HD camcorder.
X-ray mode is actually cool and glosses over some of the Nano's lack of detail, not that it's particularly practical.
This is thermal mode, so you can tell that Brian and Lisa are red-hot. Literally.
Tunnel vision is another filter brought over from Photo Booth. It's one of my favorites, so I'm glad to see it on the Nano.