Written on: 04/02/2006 by andymillikin (12 reviews written)
Enormous memory capacity
Ergonomic and fashionable
Lack of bundled accessories
Lack of robustness (screen liable to scratching)
I have been indifferent to the iPod revolution in recent years, because I already owned an Archos Jukebox and knew little about the iTunes system. My wife bought me an iPod Shuffle for Christmas, and my exposure to the Apple world has led to the purchase of a black iPod 60Gb Video. Here's my view of the pro's and con's.
The package comes with ear buds, a case, an iTunes CD and a USB cable. If you want to charge the player you must connect it to a computer or purchase a plug adapter. A bit of a swizz if you ask me. I bought a Belkin power pack for the iPod Shuffle (mains and car adapter included). You can then use these in conjunction with the USB cable to charge the player without a computer. Result. Of course, Apple doesn't tell you that the two are interchangeable.
I purchased the Camera Connector from Apple. This small add-on allows you to up and download photo's. This may seem like a gimmick, but as an avid photographer I have regularly used up 2Gb's of memory card space, and being able to download the cards to the iPod will be a life saver.
I have run tests to assess the battery life and it will match the claims of the manufacturer. The video ran for 3 hours, and the music lasted for 20 hours. However, and this is a big however, these times rely on you switching the iPod on and leaving it alone. If you start to play with the click wheel and select songs randomly then the battery life reduces markedly.
If you scroll rapidly through photos, the battery takes quite a hit. I assume all of these issues are to do with the iPod cache memory. If you make lots of demands on the hard drive then it will eat the battery.
That said, on a recent trip abroad I played it constantly for 8 hours, selecting new songs regularly (short attention span!) and the battery was still indicating a half charge.
The iTunes software has been touted as one of the driving forces behind the iPod success story. It is indeed easy to use, although you will probably waste a lot of time sorting through all of your music. Importing CD's to your iTunes takes noticeably longer than with RealOne player, so if you have your CD's in MP3 format already you can just drop them into the library.
The iMusic store is excellent. I have yet to purchase any music, but the free Podcast availability is superb. A Podcast is like a radio show that you can listen to at any time. You can select the Podcasts you like and subscribe to them, so that every time a new one is released your iPod will update. The Ricky Gervais Show alone makes iMusic worthwhile. There is a plethora of other stuff too, including some free video Podcasts, documentaries and BBC radio programmes.
Whilst much has been made of the iPod's limited video playback codec options (namely the MP4 and H.264 formats), especially vs the Creative Zen Vision:M, it really is a non-issue. The ilounge.com website explains which free software to download (DVD Decrypter and Videora) and exactly what to do to rip the DVD's that you own to iPod Video format. Furthermore, it is easy to convert your own home movies (MPEG and AVI) to an iPod friendly format.
The video playback is fine, although I doubt you would want to spend all of your time watching films on it, purely because the screen is small. It is primarily a music player after all.
It is worth investing in a decent case before you purchase the iPod. This is one of the major criticisms of all iPod's - they are fragile. It seems perverse that the 5th generation of this ubiquitous player, designed expressly for portability, should be so susceptible to damage.
An ultra slim and rather sexy case is provided, but it does not allow access to the click wheel or screen, so the likelihood of scratching it whilst removing it is high. I purchased a leather case with in-built screen protector and fold over panel from Belkin, and I put the iPod in it immediately. Notwithstanding that (and I have taken great pains to protect it) there is a small scratch just above the screen. My point being, it is very easy to damage the iPod so be careful.
The necessity of protecting the iPod in a case partially defeats one of the iPod's main selling points - its size.
Worth considering as an alternative is the Creative Zen Vision:M which is a 30Gb video player with an in-built FM radio and voice recorder. It also has a better colour screen and supports more video formats for replay. On the down side, it has half the capacity of the iPod 60Gb, and it is noticeably thicker.
Despite the fact that the iPod comes with an austere accessories package and is susceptible to damage, it is an outstanding entertainment system. It looks phenomenal, is very easy to use, and lasts for a long time. If you get bored of your own music you can watch DVD's or listen to Podcasts. It is surely the number 1 MP3 player available in the world at the moment. I can heartily recommend it.
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