Written on: 21/08/2006 by mark1961 (11 reviews written)
Great design and easy to use.
Apple iPod 30GB (white)
I know you're all sick of hearing this, but the iPod is amazing, undoubtedly one of the finest creations of the 21st century. The genius of the click wheel, the amazing sound quality, and now, the inclusion of video has transformed what should be a fairly good MP3 player into a worldwide phenomenon. Everyone either has one or wants one, even if they are too stubborn to admit it. Or at least, this is the myth. You see, most people believe that the iPod is perfect in every way, that no other MP3 player on the market can stand up to it. I am here to prove that wrong. Don't get me wrong, I love the iPod, but I can find some faults that may be worth reading about.
I'll start with the design, and as you would expect from Apple, it is magnificent. The click wheel, as always, is not only a nice addition to the design, but incredibly easy to use, rendering all other navigation methods obsolete. The body of the machine is much slimmer than previous versions, and the screen slightly bigger, for the inclusion of video. It scratches quite easily, as I'm sure you know, but this can be seen to. However, the easiest way to prevent scratches is to use the case Apple provides in the box. Sure it's clumsy, and yes, you have to take the iPod out whenever you want to change song, but it keeps the back panel almost scratch free. The screen is less easily damaged, as it should be, but scratches will almost certainly appear, which are a drawback if you plan to watch anything on it. But other than the scratch problem, design quality is almost flawless.
Now for the music, and Apple strikes again. iTunes is simply brilliant. Uploading CD's is very easy, and organizing the tracks into playlists is simpler still. Find the chosen song(s) in the library, make a new playlist, and drag your selected items into the playlist. Easy. And it gets better. Apple operates a standard function on the iPod that whenever you plug it in for the first time, it will automatically fill itself with the entire iTunes library. You can also choose for it to fill your machine up with certain playlists, or you can simply add and remove songs manually. I prefer the latter, but only because my family has music I don't like in the library, so it's hardly surprising. Sound quality on the machine is pretty impressive. Reviews tell us that Apple earphones deliver superior sound quality than any other standard earphones. That's a lie. I previously owned a Creative Zen Micro, and the quality of the Creative earphones was very similar, and probably had better bass quality. In fact, the bass in the Apple earphones is average at best. You need to turn up the volume pretty high in order to get the best out of the bass. At lower levels, it's debatable if there is any bass at all. My earphones were stolen, so I replaced them with a pair of Sennheisers, and the difference is very noticeable. Bass is vastly improved, and the overall sound crisper. But this is no reason to buy another machine, on the contrary; iTunes alone should be enough to persuade you to buy the iPod.
Battery life, although vastly improved, is still no match for the Sony hard-drive MP3 players, clocking out at 14 hours. Or so Apple tells us. I have never had enough battery for more than 8 hours listening. OK, so I do change track a lot, which uses up a lot of processing power, but even at times when I just listen to it throughout, it still fails to reach the big 1-4. And it gets worse when it comes to the video. On a full charge, I was unable to finish Pulp Fiction because there was no battery left. I had to watch the end with the charger sticking out the bottom. I wasn't impressed.
And finally, it's the big one - the video. When I bought my iPod I thought I was buying into the future; no more need for portable DVD players. And after uploading several films and music videos, I loved it. It is a fantastic idea, and on paper, it should be flawless. But life isn't written on paper.
Firstly, it drains your battery life like a Ferrari drains petrol, as I've previously mentioned. The screen is simply too small, and, although watching films is possible, it isn't advisable, as it doesn't do much good for your eyes. And the whole idea is really a bit of an eye opener; just another add-on to shove sales up a bit. But - and this is the real killer - you actually won't use it that much.
After realizing the huge amount of battery it uses, you won't be keen to use it too often. And, with that small screen, it won't persuade you otherwise. Music videos are pointless; unless they are elaborate films that you just can't live without. And unless you are a movie enthusiast and have your entire DVD collection on your iPod, you won't use it too often. But if you do use it, you will be very impressed with the sound and visual quality, which is stunning for such a small machine.
Other qualities of the ipod are the ability to upload photographs, and with a connection (sold separately) you can watch you photographs on a slide show. This slide show is automatically created when the photos are uploaded. I have found this useful, as it is possible to take a full album of photographs to a different home and show them.
Audio books are one of my favourite functions on the iPod. The audio book can either be downloaded as a podcast or put directly on from a CD. The audio book section comes up on the menu and it is easy to access.
Podcasts (another feature of the iPod) can be downloaded from iTunes or any other sources, and they are easily accessed from the menu. These I find useful if you are looking for a radio program you missed during the day, or something completely different in the music front.
So to sum up, the design is fantastic, iTunes is genius, the sound is good, the battery life is awful and the video is a gimmick. And with a price tag of nearly £200 for the 30Gb base model, it's expensive too. But should this put you off? No. Yes, the battery life is woeful, and yes, the video isn't worthwhile, but do you care? You shouldn't. The iPod was designed to be the world's best music player, and that's just what it is. Challengers have come and gone over the years, but none have been able to knock Apple's crowning glory from the top spot. Not only is the iPod a great MP3 player, it is also a great external hard drive to store photographs, audio books and podcast shows. Long live the iPod.