Pocket-lint was invited to the “One more thing…” Apple event held on the 12 October 2005 to get a hands-on look at the new iPod.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has high hopes for the latest incarnation: “Because millions of people around the world will buy this new iPod to play music, it will quickly become the most popular video player in history”. But does the new offering from Apple have what it takes to match the hype? We have a look and find out.
There is no denying it the player is small and sleek. Like the iPod Nano, the 5th generation of iPod as been squeezed and squashed to be even thinner than previous models. Of the 30Gb model, Jobs said that it was “30% thinner than the current 20Gb model” and putting it up against a now old 4th generation unit, you could noticeably see the difference in size. Likewise the 60Gb version is also boasting a thin exterior and its dimensions make it 12% smaller than the old 20Gb as well.
With the flattening the screen has got larger, not as large as most people had hoped and certainly in our mind not large enough to really enjoy watching videos on. At 320x240 or 2.5 inches the screen is smaller than most new digital cameras on the market and it's here that I think Apple has missed a trick. How it is expecting to be able to fend off competition from the likes of Sony, with its lusciously large screened PSP or any other media player contender is beyond us.
Videos are 260,000 colours and MPEG4. Apple has also used its H.264 protocol at 30fps and it's very smooth if not a little small.
The smaller model - at 30 gigabytes - is priced at around £219 and can hold 7,500 songs, 12,500 photos and 75 hours of video.
The larger model - at 60 gigabytes - will be able to hold 15,000 songs, 25,000 photos and 150 hours of video. It will cost around £299.
On the whole, the menu system is the same as the iPod Nano interface except for a few differences. One is the introduction of four clocks to tell you the world time, something jet-setting iPod owners will obviously be dieing to know. They will also be happy to find out that they can time themselves with the addition of a stopwatch on board as well.
Aesthetically the iPod now looks very much like the iPod Nano only bigger. Just the same, the new models will come in two colours; black and white however it will be interesting to see whether the same complaints regarding the scratchiness of the screen dog the new player as they have the Nano in the 5 weeks since its launch.
As an evolution to the iPod, it's very impressive. Apple has taken the design and rather than starting from scratch has merely refined it even more, pushing the limits of what most thought possible from a hard drive based MP3 player.
As a portable video device, however it's a different story. While the introduction of support for video from iTunes is good, especially in the US where Apple has signed a deal with Disney to sell five television shows including the number one, Desperate Housewives, and number two, Lost, alongside the 2000 music videos and the Pixar shorts, the actual hardware for a change doesn't cut it against other media players already on the market.
Give us a movie iTunes store with a player that can match, whether it be in the living room or portable device and then Apple really will have the most popular video player in history. As it is, for us, on a first look, the hype has well outstretched the reality.
The new iPod might fly off the shelves come Christmas, but not because of its video credentials.
Steve Jobs says it best: "It does everything that the previous model does and adds video as a bonus" and bonus certainly is the key word here.
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