It’s been a month since I got my iPod, and since I know several readers are considering buying the model I have (30 GB iPod Video) I thought I’d share my experiences.
First of all, even though I’m going to complain about it a little bit, overall I’m still really glad I got it. Despite whatever I write here, if you want an iPod I recommend one.
One cool feature about the iPod is that it’s a hard drive (only the full-sized iPods; nanos and shuffles are not). That means, not only can I use it for playing music, but I can back up files to it, and use it to move files between my desktop PC and laptop that are too large to fit on my 256 MB memory stick.
Another feature is that you can load text files into the iPod’s Notes folder and then read them onscreen. This feature appealed to me because it meant I could find ebooks on the web, save them as text files, and then read them on my iPod. This is really handy because I like to have stuff to read in bed before I go to sleep.
However, the first time I tried to save an ebook as a Note it didn’t work – Notes have a maximum size of 4K. (Why???? Who imposed this stupid limitation when there’s 30 GB of space?) But I found a free program called iNote that will process a large text file into 4K chunks. It worked like a charm, and now I’m currently using my iPod to read Centuries, The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus.
That brings me to the subject of the battery. The iPod can seemingly play music forever and ever without running out of juice, but if you use it to read Notes (having set the backlight to stay on all the time, rather than turning off after 5 or 10 or 20 seconds) it will run down in about an hour. You can charge it back up by connecting it to your computer’s USB port, and it charges fairly quickly – mine went from almost dead to charged all the way up in less than an hour last night.
The iPod comes with iTunes software. I used it to buy a couple of songs, just to try it out and it worked very well. However, I recommend that you try out alternate software as well to get your computer and your iPod talking to each other – see Download.com and iLounge for recommendations. Two reasons for this: One, iTunes is a memory hog – I had it configured to start automatically when I plugged my iPod in, and it took well over a minute and a half for that to happen. Secondly, iTunes only copies one way, from your computer to your iPod. You can’t copy from an iPod to your computer. There are shareware and freeware programs that remedy this.
Another thing that irritates me is iPod’s Shuffle Songs feature. You can shuffle by song or by album (in this case it randomly picks an album and plays all the songs on it), but you can’t shuffle by playlist, which is what I’d really like to do. The thing is, in addition to my music, I load stuff on my iPod that looks like music but isn’t. Some of it may be instruction files for a foreign language I want to learn. Some of it may be files I’ve recorded myself, using my laptop and a microphone, so I can later “passively listen” to stuff I want to learn to get it into my subconscious mind (I wrote about this before). I’d like to exclude that stuff when I shuffle songs. Even if I didn’t have anything but music, I’d still want to be able to shuffle by playlist, though. I mean, when I’m in the mood for songs that rock hard, I don’t want some disco number that Leif Garrett recorded in 1976 popping up. (Yes, I actually have one of those – “I was Made for Dancin'” – it’s not a bad song IF you feel like hearing that type of music). As it stands now, I have to manually load and unload music from my iPod each time I want to listen to something different. I hope Apple corrects this in a future version of the iPod system software. I mean, even Windows Media Player on my laptop can shuffle by playlist.
The iPod’s screen scratches easily, so you need to get a case for it (one that provides access to the console, which disqualifies that crappy little excuse of a case Apple ships with the iPod). I went to Best Buy and got a Podfolio for mine. They have two entire racks of iPod accessories at Best Buy.
I’ve downloaded a few video podcasts and the quality is excellent. Haven’t tried a full-length movie yet. You can also subscribe to episodes of TV shows (I think I saw Family Guy, for example) for a fee, but I don’t see the point of paying when I have a DVR at home.
Most MP3 players in the iPod’s price range come with an FM radio tuner and built in voice recorder. The iPod does not come with either.
My only other complaint is that I now have a cell phone, digital camera, and iPod to carry around. How are the ladies supposed to be able to check out my nice, firm butt when my pockets are bulging with electronic equipment? Ideally I’d like to have one device that handles all of these, plus PDA/mini-laptop features and while we’re at it, GameBoy compatibility would be nice too. (The iPod comes with a few games but they suck – they remind me of games I played on my Atari 2600 in 1983.) I know that such things do exist, but the MP3 players on them don’t have a 30 GB capacity like my iPod. And the camera might have 1 or 1.5 megapixel capability at best, as compared to my digital camera’s 5 megapixels. Two years from now, I think we’ll be there, but not quite yet, so for now my pockets are full.
Once again, despite all the complaining I’m very happy with my iPod Video. I also feel like I have just begun to scratch the surface of what it can do. If I discover any other cool iPod tricks I’ll post them.