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Exit ArchiveArchive for October 19th, 2005

Another iPod Box

What is this, déjà vu? Okay, so I got a Nano just over a month ago. What the hell am I thinking getting another big iPod? Well, my trusty old iPod has been nearly out of space for a while. It’s also lacking features I want. So when Apple announced the new iPods last week, they had what I’d been waiting for. Not video exactly, though that will be fun, but the huge color screen and video and remote through the new dock. I nabbed one immediately using my trusty Disney discount. The thing was shipped two days ago directly from the factory in China. Yes, it got here in two days. That was with the free ground shipping!

Another iPod IN a Box

Unlike last time, where this picture said the two iPods were getting along, this time I felt some tension. The 2G was feeling bad it was being replaced.

Well, I have a very soft spot for the first version of things that become a fixture in my life. I still have my Newton, for instance, though the screen is shattered. I might keep my original iPod in the closet. It will be one of those things I take out every few years and wonder why I have it, then some soft instrumental music will swell in the soundtrack of my life, I’ll get a tear in my eye, and, with a doleful smile, I’ll silently, lovingly place the artifact back behind the Legos.

Or I may let a friend borrow it.

Old and New

Here’s the new and the old, side-by-side. Look at the monster screen on the new iPod! I can vouch for its gorgeousness. And yes, I did get black. It matches my Nano, but that’s not why. In fact, I wanted white, but, truth be told, I do not like the gray scroll wheel. I think it’s a design flaw. That ugly gray circle on the white iPod ruins its beauty. The black wheel on the black iPod is nice.

(That icon in the corner of the pic means you can click to see a bigger version, BTW. It’s a new feature!)

Oh, and it is true: Scratches show up like nobody’s business on the black iPod. My Nano has been living in a Ziploc bag until my Nano Tubes arrive, and it’s already got webs of tiny scratches!

More for Less

The new iPod is much thinner, but holds three times as much as my old one. That is more than enough for all my music. I can add CDs I left off my other iPod. And I’ve been re-ripping some of my CDs into a higher bit rate, which sounds ever so slightly better, especially in the car. Those files take extra room, and now I have it!

More for Less Askew

I can finally use line out in the car, which will sound better. And I understand the audio quality has been improved on the 5G iPod (according to non-Apple reports). This and much, much more, all for $125 less than my old iPod! Amazing, really.

The final picture is one I simply could not help taking. Yes, I noticed the time discrepancy. 3:41 is the total time for that song. And, technically, the title has no apostrophe after “Good,” though, grammatically, it should have.

iPod iPod Demon Demon Days Days

I am enjoying the fact that “Demon Days” is on the box for this iPod. I mean, considering…

I do have a couple design thoughts. I will miss the FireWire cable connectivity, since all I needed was a FireWire 400 cable to get my iPod to connect and play through a Mac. The upside is that the dock connector adds much more functionality to this iPod, including line out, video out, remote control, power, and more. I loved having all the connections come from the top of the iPod. This was perfect for car listening. It’s going to be harder to use the iPod in the car with a cable out the top and a cable out the bottom. When I get a line-out/power combo thingy, there will only be one cable out the bottom, but then the iPod won’t rest easily on the sea beside me. No, the cable out the top was wonderful.

While we’re on the FireWire thing, the new iPod will not sync using FireWire. Only USB. My Mac at home has USB 1, not 2, so I imagine syncing all 18GB of music at home will take half a day, at least. Even with USB 2 at work, getting all my music on this new iPod took 3 hours. It took under 45 minutes with FireWire. Shucks.

It’s a slight thing, but one of the hallmarks of the iPod was its centered headphone jack. That’s gone now. The jack’s on the top right. Aesthetic reasons aside, having the jack right in the middle makes for easier handling. A cable plugged into one side makes the iPod unbalanced.

While I love the new click wheel combo, where the buttons are also the scroll wheel, I have already found on the Nano that this makes it harder to tell when you are pressing the correct “button.” Without the tactile feel of raised buttons, it is easy to hit the wrong control without looking directly at the iPod. Also, it is not possible to “hunt around” for a button with your thumb without activating the scrolling on the wheel. None of this was an issue on my original iPod.

The select button in the center of the scroll wheel is flat. Oops. I imagine, or hope, this will be fixed sometime in the future, but as it is, it is very hard to tell when your thumb is over this button. There is a texture difference, but this does not work as well as a raised button does. This has already frustrated me on the Nano.

I was very interested to see that Apple returned to the sharp-edged front for the iPod. I did indeed love the smooth feeling of the rounded edges of the 3G and 4G iPods, but for sentimental reasons, I’m glad my new iPod shares this feature with my old one. (The Nano has the sharp edge, too.) I believe they had to do this because a rounded front would eat into screen real estate.

Finally, the scroll wheel is smaller, and the screen is bigger. A bigger screen is fantastic and I would not want it to be smaller. But the smaller scroll wheel? Not sure why that was done. Put these two together, and the iPod is now missing a harmonious balance of design. The screen crams to the very edges, while the scroll wheel is swimming in free space. Look at the picture above showing the front of the two iPods. There is a beauty to the old iPod, though its controls seem dated thanks to the sleek new click wheel. Look how perfect the layout is. The sizing and placement of all the elements is sublime. The new iPod, thanks to its design, looks fatter than it is, and looks more functional than beautiful.

Man, I wrote more than I intended. And did I just end up skewering my brand new toy without even having used it? I did. But for all the issues above, there are a dozen improved things that will make my new iPod even more useful in my life.