Jason's Blog

Music fans, revel in the glory that is…. iPod

by on Dec.29, 2003, under Reviews

Ok, I have to say Apple has really outdone themselves here. I requested and obtained a 40GB iPod from Apple for Christmas. Figured I’d do a review of it, post some thoughts. Here’s the positive points:

  1. First, 40GB of space. That’s a LOT of extra storage. You can use part of it for mp3’s/AAC files (iTunes music store format), and part of the drive as just general storage – it’s up to you.
  2. it is TINY. The whole 40GB iPod fits in the palm of my hand.
  3. It is one of the most well designed little gadgets I’ve seen. The buttons are all pressure sensitive, there’s this really cool pressure sensitive scroll wheel, there’s a backlight for the buttons and song display, everything looks and feels really solid. Further, the accessories are pretty nice too. The docking station (an additional accessory that really only provides a line out to a set of speakers, and a convinient storage spot) is cleanly formed, well designed, the remote is an even more impressive item (although the clip is near useless), etc. I’m just impressed overall with the design – it’s beyond engineering, it’s near art.
  4. Battery life definitely has to rate on here. I love the fact that the battery is built in, rechargable, is long lived (I swear, I think I got more than the 8 hours advertised while I was letting the juice run down on it), and for long trips, it rocks. Further, you can get a car adapter for those trips that take longer than 8-10 hours. Now, this is without the iTrip running, so I’m not quite sure how that’d change things. Further, I’d imagine if you ran the backlight, or did any other number of things, your battery life would drop. But, for the most part, it ran great. HOWEVER, there have been reported problems with battery life after a period of a year or two, so we’ll just see how that goes.
  5. Can we say extras? For those with an apple computer, you can transfer your calendars, including alarms to the iPod. You can also transfer your contacts, notes, and a lot of other information. Further, it has a nice little alarm clock, some games played with the scroll wheel, and a lot of expansion accessories that are constantly being developed.
  6. Some additional niceties are the included options and interface support. iTunes as I’ve said before is one hell of an application. The integration between iTunes and the iPod is amazing, and makes life much simpler. The ability to manage your library, sort music, etc. just rocks. The firewire or USB2.0 support, and just design of the software interface on the iPod itself all speaks of smart thinking.

Ok, we’ve got lots and lots of positives. Let’s add a few negatives (and they are few).

  1. The first and biggest problem is price. An iPod isn’t cheap, particularly for the larger sized versions. Of course, getting all that space with the features on a tiny object is a bit difficult, but overall, it’s still on the expensive side. I think it’s worth it for what you get, but that doesn’t change the price. However, it’s possible that soon price won’t be too much of an obstacle. Keep in mind that this is pure rumor, and also that these new “iPods” won’t have as much storage (and thus reducing the price), but for a basic mp3/aac player, that’d be a nice base system. The last comment on price – think about how many CD’s you’d have to burn to take your mp3 library with you. It’s a heck of a lot handier to have it all with you in one simple little device.
  2. Another gripe of mine is that there should have been some kind of sleeve included. i.e. some sort of protector for the iPod. There’s several after market versions that work pretty well, but it would have been nice to have one out of the box, particularly one with Apple’s engineering ingenuity behind it.
  3. Finger marks. The iPod is a beautiful piece of equipment, but good grief! You can’t hardly touch anything on it without fingerprints everywhere. It’s pretty easy of course to wipe them off, but it makes me wish there was some other metal or something else that could have helped with this.
  4. The earphones stuff. They work pretty well for the most part, but they feel kinda on the flimsy end. Hard to say on this one, and it’s more nitpicking, but if I’m going to rate the iPod as art, damn it I’m going to nitpick. A simple thing – the left vs. right icon gets hidden by the bud protectors. That’s bloody annoying.
  5. Recharging – you have to have the firewire cord to recharge the iPod. The dock doesn’t include a separate connector. You have this “ipod connector to firewire” adapter that is absolutely critical. WIth the dock, you plug the connector into the dock, the iPod into the dock, and the firewire end either into a laptop or a “power” adapter for an outlet. You can bypass the dock with seems only to really provide a resting point and a line out, and plug the connector straight into the iPod. The connector itself is relatively flimsy, which makes me nervous when traveling with the connector in my bag. Further, you have to have it even though you have the iPod dock. The dock doesn’t have a built in “connector” cord, which means you really need to connector cords. I’d almost have recommended that instead of a dock included.
  6. This isn’t related directly to the iPod, but to an accessory I bought – the “iTrip”. The iTrip is an accessory that lets your iPod play to a selection of FM radio stations. It works ok for the most part, but you’ve got a VERY short range on it, the selection of stations is kinda funky, and overall, it’s kinda so-so on the quality. I don’t have any other FM transmitters to test, or I’d have something to compare to. I just feel this one could have been a bit better.

Well, that’s about it for my comments. I’ll just sum up by saying, WOW. I like, am impressed, etc. If you’re looking for an mp3 player, I’d HIGHLY recommend looking at an iPod. If price is an issue, and storage isn’t, wait till probably after January, and you should have some more options. Sometime soon, if I get my digital camera working again, I’ll post pics in action, along with other details. Now, to listen to some more music….


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