My birthday was this weekend, and my wife decided to give me an iPod Photo. She found a 30 GB model on sale at CompUSA for $329. It’s one of the “older” generation models; Apple’s new models only come in a 20GB and 60 GB offering. There’s no major difference in the technology.
The color screen is the thing! I love color displays in my electronic gadgets; and though functionally it adds nothing to my ability to listen to music, it’s still nice to have a color menu to pick from. The downside to the color display (when not using it for photos) is, of course, that it eats more battery. I don’t have a feel yet for how much battery life this gadget has; but I didn’t feel my same generation monochromed screen iPod did real well. So, the court is out on that aspect.
I now have all my music and all my photos loaded on the little thing. The 2 inch screen yields a good resolution picture, if a bit small. You actually can see the tiny thumbnail pictures it generates when viewing your library to tell what is what. Getting all the photos loaded on board was a snap. The whole process is managed within iTunes. (I was running version 4.9.) I think it loaded my songs first, then it “optimized” everything in my iPhoto library for loading, and then it loaded them up. It all worked seamlessly. iTunes imported all the photos in the iPhoto library and imported all my albums as well. You can’t change or start an album on the iPod itself; but if you do that on your desktop (or wherever it is you plug your iPod into), then it will synch it up and capture it the next time you plug it in.
Like all iPods, you can only perform the automatic synchronization on one Mac. The others must be set (iTunes/Preferences) for manual song management; otherwise, you not only run the risk of inadvertently wiping out the songs on your iPod and replacing them with the songs on the machine you’re currently plugged into, but you won’t even be able to access your songs while the iPod is plugged in.
Out in the wooly wilderness of the Internet, I had encountered some claims that the sound of the iPod Photo’s wasn’t as good as that from the monochrome models. To do a very subjective and informal test of that, I listened to “Love Me Do” from the Beatles, and the “Mars” selection from Holst’s “The Planets”. I could detect no real difference in sound quality between the two. Admittedly, I don’t have the best ears; I will admit to some high-frequency hearing loss and a touch of tinnitus from being around too many airplane and car engines. My wife listened to “Jupiter” from “The Planets” on my iPod Photo, and she offered up no comments about differences. I’m open to hearing other listener’s experiences, especially if they can compare between the monochrome and color screen models; but, for my buck, there’s no concern about getting a lesser quality machine by buying an iPod Photo, in general. I’ll qualify that by saying I have not experience with the new models Apple just released. It would be strange but not unheard of for Apple to release a new product with less quality than an older one. The new Cinema Displays and iMac LCD screens are an example; they are very nice but still of lesser clarity than the older ADC LCD models they replaced.
This new device got me thinking again about the contention of turning your mobile phone into a “do everything” device, and I am more convinced than ever that it is not a philosophy I buy into. I would like an iPod that put all my multimedia functionality in one place, i.e., photos, music, and video on one device. It would be really cool to pull out my iPod and watch a movie on it during an airline flight. That puts all my fun one device, and all my business on another. I’ll reserve my contact info, e-mail, web-surfing, and voicemail for my phone. I like being able to turn the business end off when I want to and not having to convince a steward or stewardess I really have the phone turned off. Eventually, with the advent of movies streaming across my wireless phone on demand, I might change my mind about that…assuming the airlines will allow me to receive them.
One of this iPod’s differences that is an obvious result of Apple’s courting more Windows’ users is that the iPod only comes with a USB 2.0 adapter for hooking it into your Mac or PC. Having worked with both Firewire and USB 2.0 for several years, I vastly prefer Firewire. Transfer rates have always seemed higher than those with USB 2.0 and the interface has always been a lot less problematic. And since Macs have for years been equipped with Firewire interfaces, it is a slap in the face to current Mac owners. If you want a Firewire connector to use with your Mac, you can still get one for $19.99; but you can’t use it to hook into the iPod’s included power adapter. It comes with a USB 2.0 plug. This is a small gripe, admittedly, and it has no direct impact on my ability to use the device; but I still found it irritating nonetheless. Older Mac owners will find it more irritating than I did. We can probably expect more of the same out of Apple in the future.
Still, I really like my iPod Photo; and I really appreciate my wife getting it for me. Now, if I could only make up my mind about that Dell Axim…