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ipod photo: first impressions

ipod-dock.jpgOkay, so I was going to do this all at once but I realized that it would end up being an impossibly long post. Better to split things up. This is stuff that I wrote down as I started using it, about a week ago.

but why oh why?

While you'd think this question has an obvious answer (e.g., hype, the "cool" factor, "just because"...), in my case it's not so obvious. You see, I generally prefer solid-state electronics over anything with moving parts, and that meant that for a while I was skeptical of an iPod for myself (even as I knew the value they had for most others). It's one of those techno-snobbish things.

In any case, what happened is that I realized that over time I started to view my digital music collection as one "set" or "unit" rather than as disjointed playlists. No doubt iTunes has a big role to play in that, but it's a natural evolution IMO. Once you have 20 gig of music on your machine you get used to selecting anything, anytime. And once you're used to that, it's pretty hard to use puny 1/2 gig flash players or whatever: you never know what to choose "for the road". My first MP3 player was the original Rio 300, then a Rio 600, then a Rio 800. I knew the flash-player use case, and in the last couple of months it became obvious that it just wouldn't cut it anymore.

In fact, not even the iPod mini (or similar) would cut it. I wanted a player that would let me take all my music with me. So last week as I walked around the Apple Store in Palo Alto, I kept drifting back to the little pile of iPod boxes in one corner. I knew that I was getting an iPod mini from Feedster soon, but I thought that they would be useful in different cases.

Eventually, I gave in. :)

Package, installation

Everyone gives points to Apple for design, but not many comment on the packaging, which I always think is an integral part of the "experience". The iPod is no exception. The little cubic box opens like a book in half and for some reason by the time you get to pulling cables out of it, you're already smiling. It's design genius.

The package includes pretty much everything you need to get started, and the included carrying case is good, but not great since you can't use the controls with the iPod in it. But still useful when the playlist has been set, or if you get a remote. As far as accessories, the iTrip (FM radio broadcast direct from the iPod) looks pretty sweet, but I didn't get it. :) Also the docks with built-in speakers.

Set up is pretty easy--the only wrinkle is that it piles on a couple of installations of different things (iTunes, Quicktime, iPod updater) and it's less simple than it should be, but still manageable. The fact that iTunes still has to be installed separately is kind of a pain, even afterwards updating iTunes is still a full download and install. Maybe it's time for Apple to come up with a Windows version of OS X's Software Update feature?

Taking it for a spin

Anyway, you're up and running fairly quickly. Copying songs over USB isn't bad (and USB2 is great, I haven't been able to try FireWire but I have no doubt it will also work well). In the case of plain-old-USB, you just have to wait a couple of hours until all those GB are transfered.

One slight issue with the dock (which comes bundled in the iPod photo, I think other models don't include it, but I might be wrong) is that while it's docked you have this message on screen of "do not unplug" or something. Which is a problem, because you don't really think about looking at the iPod's screen before pulling it out of the dock. I think that this doesn't necessarily create problems, but it might when a transfer hasn't finished... maybe better sync in the software (so that the device is released as soon as possible) and some notification at the OS level for moments when you absolutely-positively-can't-unplug it would work.

The headphones are fantastic. I am not a fan of earbuds, but the iPod's are really comfortable and sound incredibly good. Apparently the drivers are built out of Neodymium, as opposed to the more common aluminum, cobalt, or ceramic. I definitely think that there's a difference. In any case, difference or not, they sound great, and they're the first earbud earphones in years that I've used for more than a few hours without them bothering me.

Battery life is pretty good, I've definitely gotten over 10 hours but I'm not sure if I reached the advertised 15 for this model. This is also hard to gauge since battery usage varies wildly with use (ie., times the hard drive has to spin up, backlight on, etc). But I definitely had no problems with it this monday/tuesday with a nearly 20-hour trip. The battery was almost exhausted at the end, but it still had some juice.

So far so good

So, quick conclusion: it's a pretty great product. Already I've listened to stuff that I hadn't listened to in a while, just because the opportunity doesn't present itself (or rather, when it does, you're nowhere near the music you'd like to hear). I gave the output-to-TV feature (with included AV cable) a quick try and it's great, but that, and the photos (Along with the extras, calendar, notes, games, etc. :)), is something for next time.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 20, 2005 at 8:56 PM

in a letter I received today...

"Trinity College Dublin / University of Dublin

Dear Mr. Doval,

I am pleased to inform you that the University Sub-Committee of Council and Board at their meetings of 18 January 2005 have accepted the recommendation of the examiners that you be awarded the degree of Ph.D."

Yes!

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on January 20, 2005 at 5:13 PM

happy birthday russ!

Today is Russ's birthday! Go send good wishes to his weblog. :)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 20, 2005 at 5:11 PM

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