5 Key Things To Consider Before Buying the iPod Video
Elegant design, good image/video quality, capability to play video on your TV
Reduced battery life, scratches easily, no Firewire syncing capability, lower audio volume levels
-The Bottom Line-
Images and video look great. Although battery life, scratching, and no firewire capability is a concern, I've enjoyed using the new iPod video and I'm sure you will too!
As an Mac user and podophile at heart (having owned 5 different iPods), I'm writing this review for iPod owners who are considering upgrading from an iPod Photo, 3rd Gen iPod, or iPod mini to the 5th Gen iPod Video. Instead of boring you with the stuff you already know... i.e. iPods are great, music sounds wonderful, design is really cool, yada, yada, yada. I want to add some additional information I consider important and relevant before making a purchase decision. The following are five questions I had before buying the new iPod and my answers.
1. Question: How do videos look and play on the iPod?
Answer: Awesome! For such a small device, Apple has done an excellent job incorporating the video feature into the iPod. The screen resolution is 320 x 240, which is not nearly the resolution on your TV or LCD monitor, but videos look great. I've downloaded episodes of The Office and I haven't noticed a difference between watching them on the TV or my iPod. What's more, a cool new feature allows you to play video downloads on your iPod over your TV using a camcorder A/V to RCA cable (you don't even need Apple's special TV Out cables! see this article: http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2005/11/18/video-ipod.html) And don't worry the video played on the TV looks fine, kind of like playing a VCD on your DVD player.
2. Question: How long does the battery last?
Answer: Battery life is a definite drawback. Solely playing video, the battery won't last for more than 2 hours. When playing just music, the battery will last 6-8 hours, or more at low volume, but Apple needs to address the battery life issue. Considering that the iPod lithium polymer battery has a 500 charge life, this is an important fact to consider since you will be charging the battery regularly after each use (even if you are mostly listening to music)
3. Question: Does the new iPod scratch easily like the older iPods do?
Answer: Yes, but it seems like Apple is attempting to address this issue. The face of the iPod is completely flat, which I think enhances the design and aesthetics, but the flatness is achieved by placing what seems like a hard plastic, plexiglass type surface layer on the face. It seems like this design is a bit more scratch resistant than that on previous iPods. Regardless, scratches are noticeable , especially on a black surface, so if imperfections bother you I would consider buying the white version. A friend of mine is very anal about scratches on his iPod video (I have no idea why he bought the black version) but he left the plastic wrapper on his and uses it with it still on to mitigate scratching. I think this is completely stupid, and takes away from enjoyment of the iPod itself, but I guess it's a way to address the scratching concern. Apple does give you a leather cover with the iPod that I found works pretty well for carrying and storing the unit.
4. Question: Have any changes been made with syncing to the iTunes software?
Answer: A good question! The answer is yes. Apple has made a noticeable change. iPod users, and especially Mac users will be astonished, but Apple has removed the capability to sync through Firewire from the iPod video. Yes, you heard it, when I tried to sync using my Firewire cable, I got a message that said Firewire is not supported for the 5th Gen iPod! Considering the Firewire is much faster than USB and Mac users prefer using it, this came as a major surprise to me. Why would Apple do this? Who knows...
5. Question: Are there any other items that have changed?
Answer: Yes, I have noticed that the max volume level on the iPod video is much lower than on previous iPods. I would estimate that the max volume level is even 15-20% lower. This is really strange and the casual user would not notice this, but I find that I have to keep the volume level a little higher on my iPod video than on previous iPod versions. Maybe Apple had to reduce sound amplification to address the battery life issue??
Bottom Line: Despite the drawbacks (especially the battery concern) I have been thoroughly enjoying this new iPod. The video feature is really cool, and watching music videos, TV shows, etc. is a fun and exciting feature. The improvement on picture quality over the iPod Photo is huge! Almost night and day. Where the iPod Photo images were grainy (220x176) the iPod Video is a HUGE improvement - photos look clear, crisp, and bright. Aside from what I mentioned earlier the iPod video has built on the fundamental features and aspects that has made the product so successful, and you will truly enjoy the features on Apple's latest toy!