With large storage MP3 players now not only here to stay, but fast becoming the mainstream, Apple, alongside its launch of the iTunes music downloading operation in the US has launched a new version of the iPod so you can store all your latest tracks on it.
The first thing hardened iPod fans will notice is that the latest 10, 15 and 30Gb versions are about half the thickness of the original iPod. In addition to a size change, mainly due to advancements in battery technology, the new iPod has been re-designed on the front as well.
Like before the majority of options available to you are controlled via what seems to be an invisible jog wheel that allows you to scroll through the menu system. Unlike before though the buttons that surrounded the jog wheel have now been moved just under the display. This offers play, pause, forward, backward, and direct access to bring up the menu screen.
Elsewhere on the device, things are quite minimalist. There’s a hold button to stop yourself activating the device when it’s in a pocket - something which can be easily done as the it’s so small - and a headphone jack. The screen is unchanged from before and is still large enough to be able to see what you are doing, as well as even being able to play solitaire if you’re that bored.
Powering the battery, which has a life of about 8 hours according to Apple, is somewhat complicated depending on what system you have. Mac users will be pleased to know that it’s simply a case of plugging in the 6-pin FireWire connector into the back of the Machine. PC users may be slightly disgruntled when they find out that if they only have a 4-pin FireWire adaptor, then it’s a case of charging separately, and thus not being able to sync at the same time, something which is very annoying. More annoying still for Windows users is that even with the docking station that is included in the box with the 15 and 30Gb models, you still won’t be able to charge and sync your device at the same time unless you have a 6-pin FireWire Connection.
Getting songs to the iPod is very easy and both Mac and Windows versions are shipped with software that is freely available from the web. Both versions use iTunes. Due to driver compatibilities and codecs Window users will have no other choice.
It’s a shame that once again Apple has missed a trick with the iPod. Including a mic for voice recording would have turned this from a fantastic MP3 player into a journalist’s dream choice of a digital voice recorder taken to every interview across the land. With the disk space amounting to some 7,500 songs, just think about how many voice recordings, interviews and other titbits could be stored. Perhaps maybe next time?
There’s no doubt that new iPod has all the smoothness of the previous version and the Apple brand. There’s also no doubt that this new version will also be a huge success with Apple users. PC users however are a lot more cynical, and while this new iPod is groovy, suave and sophisticated you can’t but help think that not only is it the same as before - merely smaller.
£250 - £400