Here’s an unformatted collection of thoughts and experiences since picking up a 160 GB iPod Classic, the last one in stock at the Apple Store in Alpharetta GA, last weekend.
This blog is going to be from the point-of-view from someone who’s jumping from a 2nd gen (click wheel) iPod to the 6th gen “classic” model. So some of this is new to me and won’t be new to those of you with more modern iPods. Though I’m not completely oblivious to iPod evolution: I have been borrowing a 2nd gen nano from my wife while my old one is in the shop (no, it’s not back and not refunded after more than two months; yes I have initiated a chargeback).
I’ll Take the 160 Gig Classic, If You Have Them in Silver, Please
Over the course of August, I set about re-ripping my entire CD collection, pictured below.
I’d previously ripped probably about 200 CD’s at various bitrates, and with the advent of iTunes Plus re-setting my feelings about appropriate bitrates, plus a 300 GB second drive in the G5 still only half full, I decided to move the collection up to 192 kbps AAC for rock, 256 for jazz, classical, soundtracks and everything else. Rather than pick and choose what to rip, or try to figure out exactly which discs I’d already done, I figured it would be faster to just get everything.
At the end of this process, I had a library that was about 60 GB. So when Steve announced the new iPods, I was kind of stumped. To their credit, Apple has rolled out an iPod product line that’s very clear in the appeal of each unit:
|Shuffle||Tiny, cheap, giftable|
|Nano||Small, cheap, video, giftable|
|Touch||Novel, new functionality, widescreen video|
I’d been pining for an iPhone-like iPod, but the iPod Touch would only be able to hold a quarter of my music, and wouldn’t have much room for video. So given this chart, and with the size of my library fresh in my mind, the sensible choice for my needs was the Classic. Yeah, the widescreen would be great for video, but I just didn’t know how much video-watching I would really need (besides, if I’m traveling, I probably have my PowerBook and can watch DVD’s on that).
Of course, some people are asking why there wasn’t an iPod Touch offered with an HDD. I suspect that would be too much a change of the form factor of the Touch, making it un-Steve-ishly bulky. So, given the choice between compromising the Touch and having more models out there than Apple would usually prefer, they chose the latter. But I wonder how long the Classic will really live on? 160 GB is crazy huge… maybe when Apple can get 32 GB of flash memory at a reasonable price, we’ll see the end of the HDD-based iPod.
Copying 60 GB of music over USB 2.0 is no small task. I initially was just going to have iTunes sync my library to the pod, but then thought better of that and went back to manual mode. I selected all my tracks and dragged them over:
I let that go for about two hours. When it was done, iTunes got slow and balky, and wouldn’t let me copy video to the iPod. Eventually, it just crashed. So, I ejected the iPod and found that rather than having 10,000 songs in my pocket, I had 0. Grrr. At this point, since I had little or no usable data on there other than my podcasts, I did a “restore”, and then started copying songs in smaller chunks, about a thousand at a time. Much better.
Notes and Nonsense
So, anyways, I finally had all my tunes, plus a few ripped DVD’s and a TV show I bought from iTunes. So how well does it actually work? Here are a few impressions:
Notice how the screenshots show the menu set against part of an album cover? The cover art is randomly selected from your library, and moves with a sort of “Ken Burns effect”, changing every 8 seconds or so.
Cover Flow is stupid. No, it’s inconsistent. iTunes knows to group together artists from a compliation like a soundtrack, either by use of the “compilation” flag, or by assigning an “album artist” (even if it’s just “various artists”). The iPod, on the other hand, repeats a cover over and over again, once for each artist on the album. Maybe iTunes is right and the iPod is wrong, maybe vice versa, but they really ought to both work the same way.
Syncs take a shockingly long time. Shocking because it’s not clear that iTunes is really doing anything — before you get to the file-copying, you’ll spend as much as 30 seconds enjoying the Spinning Beachball of Doom.
Ejecting the iPod Classic takes about 60 seconds, which seems ridiculously long. Memo to self: only plug it in to sync and charge, because waiting for the eject is damned annoying.
Since we’re talking about the old-style iPod screen, and not the widescreen of the Touch, 4:3 video like TV makes a lot more sense than widescreen movies. To illustrate, the TV show Rumbling Hearts versus a DVD rip of the widescreen movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension:
The cable connection is inconsistent: sometimes neither the Finder nor iTunes notices when I’ve plugged in the iPod. In a weird case earlier today, I plugged in the iPod and went on with some other business, not noticing that it hadn’t mounted. Later, an iCal alarm woke up the iPod and made it beep, and with that, it mounted in the Finder and appeared in iTunes. Weird.
I forgot to take a picture of this, but kana characters look beautiful in the new GUI. If you’re into J-pop or J-rock or other content where the song titles are in Japanese or Chinese characters, you’ll find it’s crisp and clear to read on the screen.
Hey, have you been using the enhanced podcast format (either with apps like Garage Band, or the Chapter Tool)? Well, you can stop now. The iPod Classic doesn’t show the images at the chapter stops. Come to think of it, it looks like the Chapter Tool has disappeared from Apple’s website too?
Oh, and you know what? I’m thinking 160 GB might end up being more than I really need: