The iPod video has replaced the PowerBook as my airline travel companion. There are a couple reasons for this. First, in cramped coach seating, there just isn’t enough room for me and my 17″ laptop. One of us had to go into the overhead storage bin, and it wasn’t going to be me. Second, I have a tendency to work when I have the PowerBook open. And these days, I seem to be working all the time. Yes, I could watch a movie on the laptop, but for some reason I don’t when flying. (I never could sleep on the plane either.)
I bought an iPod video (30GB) the day they were announced. Sometimes you can tell right away that a device is right for you. The 5th Gen iPod is darn close. Among other things, it is my new companion during air flight (along with a good magazine for takeoffs and landings). With the iPod, I switch among podcasts (have you listened to the Ricky Gervais Show?), music, and TV shows. The podcasts and music are easier on the battery, but the video is what has really changed things for me.
I’ve had people ask me: “how enjoyable can video be on a 2.5 inch screen?” Well, quite enjoyable actually. And the key is the piped-in sound through the earphones (btw: I recommend in-ear phones such as the Griffin EarThumps or XtremeMac FS1 earphones with foam inserts). The great audio seems to create a state of immersion. I got my hands on the Belkin Kickstand case and set the iPod on my snack tray. If you don’t like the Belkin case, Andy Ihnatko recommended to me using a CD Jewel case as an iPod stand. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like it would work.
My favorite iPod TV shows are The Office and the standup routines on Comedy Central. There’s also a great deal on Jack Johnson videos on iTMS - you can get a whole album’s worth for $10. I never had time to watch The Office on TV (that darn always working thing), but have been able to catch up while flying.
Thanks to the iPod video, flying is actually slightly fun again. I no longer work on the plane. It’s much easier to carry an iPod in my pocket rather than hassle with a laptop. And I get a kick out of people glancing at me out of the corner of their eyes, wondering: “what the heck is he smiling about?”