One thing Santa brought this year was a new video iPod. Much has already been said about how cool these gizmos are, and that Apple has a way with style that can only be mimicked. I know I’m behind the curve with my iPod experience, but here are my thoughts on this gadget…
The device is very easy to use, and seems fairly intuitive. I’m still getting used to the Play button – I seem to always put in on pause rather than play, but I’m getting used to it. The dial function works very well. However, with as many songs and albums I have on mine (my 30 gig drive is almost full), it takes me awhile to find a song. Some sort of search function would be nice, but is lacking.
One way to overcome the lack of a search function is to set up playlists. The device provides a way to create on-the-go playlists by selecting individual songs. This, however, is limited to songs. I do wish there was a way to select an entire album for inclusion in a playlist. One must keep in mind that this is primarily a player, and editing functions for playlists are non-existent. One other editing feature that would be nice, but is lacking, is the ability to delete files from the player. These shortcomings are minor, though, and all of these capabilities are available through the iTunes interface.
Speaking of iTunes, I find it very easy to use, create playlists, and add and delete files. The connection with the iTunes store is convenient, and I could see that being a great temptation through ease of purchase. I’ll have to watch myself. I do wish that Apple would allow some alternative to iTunes. There are several services that just won’t work with iTunes. For example, our local library has joined a consortium that allows you to "check out" audio books. The DRM system is incompatible with iTunes, so I can’t use my iPod to listen to them. I think the songs purchased through Walmart.com suffer the same problem. In both cases, the DRM requires Windows Media Player. With the Walmart tunes, the workaround would be to create a CD of the purchased songs, then rip those CDs down to MP3. There will be some loss of fidelity, but at least it would get the songs on your iPod.
When I was considering an iPod, I was only in the music capabilities. Someone suggested that I spend a couple of bucks and download an episode of a TV show just to try out the video capabilities. I downloaded an episode of Battlestar Galactica, and was immediately hooked. The video quality is astounding. I proceeded to purchase the entire Battlestar miniseries, and have been working my way through them during my lunch breaks.
My home computer has Windows Media Center, and is hooked up to our cable TV, so I can use it as a DVR. I also purchased a helper application called MyTVtoGo which will convert required files from Windows Media Center to iTunes format. I’m going to try it out with a few Daily Show episodes. Kind of like TiVo for the iPod. Right now it looks like the conversion process takes awhile, so the jury is still out on MyTVtoGo.
Using iPod as a vidoe player really eats up the batteries. I haven’t gotten a good feel for battery life, but it seems to be decent when just playing music. The unit only comes with a USB cable, and charges fairly well from your computer. However, I would recommend either a car power adapter or separate charger. I get annoyed that I have to go to iTunes to "eject" the iPod even if I’m just attaching it to charge it. Therefore, some way of charging separate from the computer’s USB can be handy.
The iPod Nano came in for tons of criticism about how easy it is to scratch. I’m afraid the iPod video is just as bad. I have tried my best to keep the unit in its protective case when not in use, but I’m already starting to see some light scratching. I would hate to think what would happen if I were to drop this thing.
All criticism aside, the concept of a portable jukebox is very appealing. I’ve been building my digital music collection for a couple of years now, and am at the point where most of my very large CD collection is in MP3 format, taking up nearly 65.5 gigs of space. My iPod will hold about half that, giving me more music than I could listen to in a week.
One last comment – don’t put the earbuds in your pocket. The cords will become a tangled, unsightly mess.