Opinion: All Those iPods, Making Sense?
So this was the week of iPod's rebirth, to give it a grand name. What's happened exactly? Let's take a look.
Apple has introduced new colours for the iPod shuffle. I guess that was the yawner of the show, since nobody really cared that much. It's a fine, simple product, does what it should, and there's not much to be improved since its current, second generation, form factor.
Then the nano. The rumours had it right exactly with this product. Gone is the 2 GB version, and in is the 320*240 pixel screen that enables it to basically get the features from the 5G iPods (although we now know that its firmware can't play the games that you've bought for the 5G iPod, you'll have to wait for newer versions of those games, and quite probably have to buy them again) plus a new user interface along with album cover art floating in a strange right pane and – of course – Cover Flow (the answer to EVERYTHING user interface-related for Apple, it currently seems, see Leopard's Finder…). Compared to the 2nd generation nano, this is a big step up, and while some might prefer the older gen's form factor, I'm positive they'll drive sales for the holiday season like no other iPod has before.
The iPod classic, as the 6G iPod has been dubbed, takes the new user interface from the nano and puts it on the "big screen" (well, 0.5 inch bigger than the nano's, anyway). First impressions tell me that this hasn't gone too well, though. If Cover Flow really looks as jaggy and overall menu-speed really is as slow as described by testers, it almost seems like you'd be better off finding an iPod 5.5G on sale. Its features are basically the same, it looks more classic than the "classic" and its interface just works. If you have a 160 GB music and video collection, though, the new highend model offers such space.
With the shuffle shuffling colours and the nano gaining last year's big model's features plus the "classic" jogging along the ride, the biggest innovation is the iPod touch. Although it's not that innovative either, really, if you already know the iPhone. It *is* a stripped down iPhone. Gone's the phone-part, gone's Bluetooth, gone are the most important PIM-functions (E-Mail, notes, calendar-entry). What remains is, if taken separately, still great: The iPod touch has the screen for movies and TV shows as well as beautiful album art in Cover Flow, plus it sports WiFi with Safari and the possibility to buy stuff on-the-go, for the first time circumventing your Mac's iTunes for that task.
It also is the first multitouch-device from Apple to reach the far corners of the Earth (like, say, Canada), before the iPhone does. The iPod touch comes with 8 or 16 GB of memory, which for a video-centric device doesn't seem like all too much. But one shouldn't forget that a feature-length movie takes roughly 1 GB of space, so both models should still give you ample room for a weekend's entertainment. With wonderful software like the free handbrake or iSquint, you can choose the size/quality ratio and fit a couple more DVDs on your iPod (check your country's copyright laws). The current _real_ drawbacks seem to be "political" in nature. Apple wants to push the iPhone, clearly, and thus removes some features. Depending on your wishes, those might seem rather small or seriously annoying.
And then there's the iPhone, of course. Still only available in the US, it's now quite a bit more affordable. 200$ more affordable. The choice is to get one or not: There's only one model right now, the 8 GB one with 2G mobile data. Rumours claim that for Europe's iPhone start next month or the one after that, Apple will be ready to go 3G, which will add a higher end model to the line-up.
So if I'd want to rant, what would I have to say? Apple has pissed off its "old" iPhone users (and later given them back a little in form of a rebate towards future purchases), Apple has released an iPod touch that could do with a more complete feature-set, Apple has released an iPod "classic" which looks old even as it's just released, a decent update to the nano and they've done to the shuffle all they reasonably could: they've changed its colours. But after ranting for all week on our forums about these issues at some length, I feel now more comfortable, mostly because I recognise that I'll live happily, although not everafter, with my 5.5G iPod.
I'm certainly looking forward to the iPhone's development, though. In Switzerland, where I'm living, the iPhone will still be absent for a little while more, which gives me the chance to watch while users in the US and later UK, Germany and France jump the gun before I can finally get the same thing, or a better version, at a lower price. Please Apple, simply go on reducing the price at 200$ per quarter.
Last edited by fryke; September 16th, 2007 at 10:49 AM.
Mac user since 1987. Running Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on a MacBook Air 11" & an iMac 27" and whatever's newest for my iPhone 4s, iPad 3 and AppleTV 2.
Apple Certified System Administrator 10.6, Apple Sales Professional 2008-2011, Apple Certified Mac Technician.