my new iPod

I wish Apple would name things a bit more clearly. Calling the new video-capable iPod "the iPod" makes things confusing for those of us whose job is to talk about different things and be specific. "A plain iPod that's new and plays video" doesn't quite roll off the tongue, but that's what Steve Jobs insists it is. It is not an "iPod video" like the "iPod Photo" was before it, nor is it a "vPod" even though that's what most people call it. And no one who's not a tech knows what a "5G iPod" is.

All that aside, the new iPod is pretty nice. I bought a 30 GB, 3G iPod about 2 1/2 years ago and have been quite happy with it. I didn't need a new iPod, of course, and due to the current model's less-than-perfect reviews (basically, "good for playing video, but not perfect") I could have just waited for the next generation which will undoubtedly be better in every way. However, I was kind of running out of room on the old one and the new ones sure are nice.

The decision was made for me last Friday when my family bought me a new one for my birthday. While showing it to everyone, my mom remarked that she'd like one herself for when she's out walking or sitting on a plane during her twice-yearly cross-country plane rides when she comes to visit. Since she was in town, I decided I'd give her my old one.

If I would have used Google, or remembered that 'Consolidate library' does what I think it does, I would have had a smoother transition from old to new. But I didn't, and I was short on time, so I went into a Terminal window, copied all my songs onto my hard drive, then erased the old iPod. Upon copying them to the new one, I realized that the star ratings are not stored in ID3 tags. Oops. Oh well. Neither are playlists, but luckily I didn't have too many of them.

The first thing you notice on the new iPod is the color display. One downside to the great display: monochrome liquid crystal displays, like the kind used in digital watches and calculators for about 30 years, are easier to read than these new color displays when the backlight isn't on. (This is the same reason I have to press the power button on my cell phone to see what time it is—a move that lights up the phone but then instantly hides the clock for a couple seconds to tell me 'Press menu to unlock.') 

Speaking of the old one, I like the old top arrangement—lock on the right, headphone jack in the middle—better than the current layout, with the lock on the left and the headphone on the right. Since this only gets used in my car, a nice centered target to plug into is preferable. And since the new one plays videos, I'd like to get a tiny set of clip-on speakers to make it a standalone media player, but lacking the extra jack for the remote, I don't know how well anyone's going to be able to pull that off. I liked the design of the old Griffin iTalk (mic and speakers) a lot.

Next up are the controls: I like the old solid-state touch-sensitive controls more, and I don't really like having them on the wheel. I suppose I'll get used to the arrangement, but moving parts? That's soooo 2002. :-)

The iPod's interface—its controls and display—are, I'm convinced, what has led to its popularity. Stylish as it is, a pretty but hard-to-use MP3 player would not have done as well. Its simplicity, while good, is just a bit on the short side of functional for my tastes. I hate having to press and hold a button to turn it on (my cell phone) or off (my car stereo and the iPod.)