It’s All Geek to Me- iPod Updates

September 6th, 2007 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

ipod-touch.jpg

As anticipated, yesterday Apple unveiled a completely updated line of iPods in advance of the holiday season at a special event in San Francisco. In addition to a refresh of all the current iPod models, including a redesign of their popular “Nano” line, Apple introduced a new direction in their iTunes Music Store business model… wifi access to purchases directly from their newest iPod model. Here’s a quick breakdown of the latest iPod line:

The iPod Shuffle, a button sized player with limited capacity aimed at the ultra portable market, got just a simple facelift with some new colors but the specs and price remained the same.

The iPod Nano got a complete makeover. Gone is the ultra slim design with the addition of a video capable screen. The Nano is now a full fledged video iPod, capable of playing the movies, TV shows and games that previously were only capable on it’s full sized brethren.

The iPod with Video has been renamed the “iPod Classic“. It’s design remains basically unchanged except for an all metal enclosure, but it’s capacity has been increased dramatically. The new models come with either 80GB or 160GB of storage.

The software used by both the Nano and the iPod Classic has been updated as well. Still using the “click wheel” the interface now features “Cover Flow” and other enhancements. It’s much more “iPhone like” but sans the touch screen technology.

Which brings me to the really big news. Apple has released a touch screen iPod, dubbed the “iPod Touch” using the same OS X based software as the iPhone. Like the iPhone, it can be turned sideways for widescreen format video, Cover Flow browsing and photo albums using the touch screen technology. Also like the iPhone, the iPod Touch is wifi enabled, and will feature the Safari web browser as well as the You Tube application, calendar, contacts and other iPhone software. Basically it’s the iPhone without the phone, and with a few subtle changes to the interface.

The wifi aspect is probably the biggest innovation, especially in conjunction with the iTunes Music Store’s new wifi capabilities. Now you can access a wifi network, browse the store for music, sample 30 second clips of whatever interests you, buy it right on the spot and have it playing on your iPod Touch in seconds. That capability is something that’s been lacking in iPods (and Apple TV) for years. Very cool. They also announced a deal with Starbucks, where you can access wifi in a Starbucks and get access to the music playing in the shop at the time… with the ability to sample and buy.

Now for the bad news. The iPod Touch is a flash based gizmo (no hard drive), so the largest available capacity is 16GB. That’s it.

Personally that’s a deal breaker for me. Right now my 5th Gen iPod with Video is a 60GB unit at about 70% capacity with all my music, audiobooks and videos on it. That total portability of all my media is a key point for me, and the iPod Touch can’t deliver that same convenience. Obviously Apple believes that the iPod should not be considered a full media storage solution, but more of a “media wallet” that you place a selection of books, videos and CDs into that you’d like to use on trip A, then replace that content with different content for trip B, and so forth. That’s just not the way I see it, and my current iPod won’t be going to pasture unless they makes a high capacity iPod touch down the road. My iPhone works fine as a “media wallet” for selected videos and such on a given trip.

Actually the iPhone will be getting all these enhancements as well, including the ability to buy songs on the go. I can also make certain songs I’ve bought into ringtones via a custom ringtone program… for an extra $.99 per ringtone. Neither of those options interest me much.

Overall, a few good steps for the Apple iPod. They just need to make a high capacity iPod Touch and that might be a must have gizmo.

Comments

  1. Trevour says:

    I’m kind of bummed that they got rid of the iconic white exterior, but I guess that all-metal enclosure is nice.

    My iPod is about ready for retirement. I bought the [still black & white screen] 4G 40GB the day it came out over three years ago (funny how vintage it seems already)… but my vast music collection doesn’t fit on there. I’m really eying that 160GB model – that should be plenty of room for all my CDs… PLUS video! And color!

  2. progressions says:

    “Obviously Apple believes that the iPod should not be considered a full media storage solution, but more of a ?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ?√¨media wallet?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ¬¨√π”

    With respect, that’s not obvious at all. I have a truckload of music, and my 80 GB iPod with Video is within a couple gigs of being full. The 160 GB iPod Classic would do well for me, holding ALL my music and all my video as well, for surely several years to come. I’d need to buy a new hard disk before I could even possibly fill it all up.

    The iPod Classic page at Apple’s site even makes a point of suggesting that you can now carry ALL your music on your iPod.

    It’s just that they can’t fit a hard disk into the touch-screen version, so by necessity it has less storage. I’m sure that’ll change in the future as things evolve.

  3. Tom says:

    I see your point, but I think that the “classic” design is destined to be discontinued at some point soon. I think it’s evident that the iPod Touch is what Apple considers the future of the line, given that it and not the Classic have the wifi capabilities and other advanced features that could have been put into the Classic but were not.

    It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s just that they can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t fit a hard disk into the touch-screen version, so by necessity it has less storage. I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m sure that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll change in the future as things evolve.

    I haven’t seen any evidence that is the case. It seems to me that it would be quite easy to combine a touch screen and a full hard disk. Why not? Too bulky or heavy? I’d rather a little bulk and heavyness than the measly 16GB size of the largest iPod touch. Still they did not go that way.

    How long will it take to get flash based memory advanced and cheap enough to make even a 100 GB iPod Touch? I would think several years, especially the ‘cheap enough’ part.

    Nope, I will wait on the new iPod Touches until they have one with adequate capacity. In the meantime my iPhone will do the job for those traveling times to enjoy movies or shows. Now i can just curse Apple and NBC for not agreeing to terms so I can download “Heroes” this season. 🙁

  4. progressions says:

    The 16 GB size is a deal breaker for me too, as much as I’d love to have an iPhone Touch. I was just guessing that it’s hard-disk size that’s preventing them from putting one in the Touch model–it could be that it’s power consumption, or some other factors I don’t know about.

    I hear you about Heroes! One alternative I find really easy is to use Miro (http://www.getmiro.com/ ) and then subscribe to the RSS feed at TV-RSS (http://tvrss.net/search/?show_name=Heroes&show_name_exact=true ).

    As soon as episodes are available on Bit Torrent, Miro will download them and store them for as long as you like, or delete them a few days after you’ve watched, if you don’t want to save them.

  5. Tom says:

    Yes, who knows what technical issues might have prevented them from doing it… maybe the slight vibrations from the spinning disk screws up the touch screen sensitivity. Eventually flash based memory will be able to provide large capacity iPods.

    Thanks for the tip about Heroes! I used iTunes a few times last year when we had some satellite TV issues. Hopefully I can just use the trusty TiVo, but your suggestion is a welcome one!

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