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View Full Version : iPod Photo 60GB Review from a new iPod user


SiliconAddict
Oct 30, 2004, 06:23 PM
So I finally got my 60GB iPod photo yesterday. Was it worth it? In a word: OH HELL YAH. OK so that's three words. :p I had a few snags along the way which were mainly due to the way I have my puter configured. Yes it's a Windows XP box. Stop hissing damn it! When Apple comes out with a newer line of PowerBooks then we will talk. But I digress.

Up til now I've never owned an iPod. Heck, I've never owned a digital music player other then a CD player and maybe my PDA. So all of this is generally new to me.


Packaging
Opening up the shipping box we find the typical iPod box that any other iPod ships in with the exception that it says iPod Photo 60GB. The innards are really no different then previous iPods from what I've read. What's to say other then the iPod box is beautiful. YMMV on the opinion but I think it is overly beautiful. It looks like Apple spent some extra cash in the box and all I have to ask is why? Its prob just me but once I get the contents unpacked the box goes in the attic just in case I want to sell it later. I'm not going to admire it for more then 10 seconds. *shrugs* Not a big deal. Just me nitpicking.

Initial impression of the iPod
So one of the first thing, the obvious thing, I fondled the iPod itself. The shell as you are all aware is identical to other iPods just thicker. I can't really tell the diff since I was in an Apple store the other day to look at iPod accessories and really the size is pretty much the same. At any rate it doesn't in any way shape or form feel brickish.
After removing the wrapper around it I powered it up. Apple went through the trouble of charging to around 70%. This IMHO is one of the first little touches I noticed. It's probably just as much for Apple's benefit as much as its for the user. Its enough of a charge to get through the initial setup of the device without it going dead in the middle of setup possibly resulting is a call to Apple support. But from my point of view it's nice because I can start playing with the device right then and there. I can't tell you how annoying it is to get a new PDA and have to wait for it to charge up a bit before I can start using it. Again a nice touch.

Setup
After playing with the device a few minutes I went to set it up. Since this is macrumors after all I won't go into the specifics of a setting up the iPod on Windows. I did have some problems initially. After popping in the CD and starting up the wizard it prompted to format the iPod. Clicked format and just sat there with the progress bar that just kept looping all night.
This morning I noticed that it was still looping after 10+ hours. Even a 60GB drive doesn't take that long. So I called up Apple support. We did some initial troubleshooting. Most of which I had done that morning before calling them. For a lark I told him I was going to reboot after deleting the iPOd from the device manager. I also changed the drive letters to leave E: open. After a reboot all was good. The only thing I can think of is that the iPod was looking to mount on one of the initial drive letters that are typically only for local hardware. When it couldn't find and open drive letter it went into a loop. I'm somewhat different in that I have my own home server so drive letters A: - G: were taken up. *shrugs* At any rate after rebooting I opened iTunes and away we went. It detected the iPod and all was good.

Side note. The initial name of the device was "uberdrive" :D


Music Syncing
I was surprised at how slow iTunes got while syncing. It wasn't unusable but it could have been better. The process itself was relatively fast. I copied just under 42GB of tracks in under an hour and a half. (Or there abouts since I wasn't really watching the clock.) Also I'm not overly impressed with the syncing process. I drop the iPod into the cradle. I wait. The "Do not Disconnect symbol" appears. I wait. I wait. Eventually the computer freezes for a good 5-10 seconds until iTunes realizes that "oh yah. You want me to sync." Once syncing starts the system is fine again. I don't know if having a dedicated 6-pin FireWire card would help or if there are issues with the port that is built into my sound card. :confused:


Photo Syncing
Once my music was finished copying it was onto the photos. Obviously it's going to be a different on a Mac. By default it goes into My Documents\My Pictures. Which is logical since iTunes puts its tracks in My Documents\My Music (Eugh. I still hate the "My xxxx" What am I? A ten year old who needs to know that this is MY documents?) The pathing isn't hard encoded so I could specify another directory path if I wanted to. Anyways if you aren't using Adobe's wares or iPhoto its almost as simple. Just drag and drop the pictures and folders you want into My Picts and sync. Syncing is obviously no different then music with the same features: Copy everything or copy specific folders. Unlike music, as you guys have probably already read, iTunes converts the files into a compatible format for the iPod. I can see pros and cons with this method. One of the cons being you don't have access to the original pictures. Fortunately Apple took this into consideration with the option to copy the original full resolution pictures. I didn't do this because this obviously takes up more space and it isn't really all that important for me. I did want to try it out though. I'm not overly happy how Apple organizes the pictures. It's organized by date not by the folder name I created.

So lets see I have:
\My Documents\My Pictures\MN Zoo Picts
\My Documents\My Pictures\Maine Pictures
\My Documents\My Pictures\Boston Pictures

It dumps them on the iPod into
\Photos\Full Resolution\[year]\[month]\[date]

Consequently it would be a royal PITA to find those pictures again now that the organized file structure has been thrown out. But again not a major issues with me since I don't want the full blow pictures with me. But for those who want to take their pictures from computer A to B it could be an issues. Again YMMV.

The Screen
Words don't do it justice. Even a picture doesn't. You simply are going to have to go into an Apple store or someone who will carry the iPod Photo to get an idea of what this does for the iPod. Yes it allows you to view your photos but IMHO the addition of color to the screen makes it feel like a more complete system. B&W is OK but frankly the iPod looks like it should be in color out of the box. The thing is sexy and beautiful. Not having a color screen is like throwing a super model in a burlap potato bag. Just wrong.
When I read that the screen was going to be trans reflective I was a tad hesitant. I've seen way too many PDA makers blow it on their screens. With everything from uneven lighting to dust (Because its sidelit instead of backlit any particles show up like a flair in the night sky.) Thankfully I can say Apple has the screen quality nailed. In fact you can't even tell where the backlight is coming from it's so even. (This could also be due the size of the screen.) The angle of viewing for the screen is solid. Well into the 70*-80* angle range before it starts getting difficult to read. (With backlight on.) So how is the screen with the backlight off? Obviously not nearly as colorful however the navigation screens are easily readable with the black fonts on the white (Or in the case of with the backlight off muted gray.) background. I was reading that Apple changed the fonts on the iPod Photo. I don't know what it originally was but I LOVE this font. Any idea if this is available as a downloadable font somewhere? Prob Mac only. :p The font is very clean and vibrant. And its prob just me but I'd swear that they are using sub-pixel rendering for the fonts. Maybe not. In any case I'm hooked. Here on out B&W is NOT an option for me.


Coverart
One of the first things I had to check once I got everything loaded was whether or not the iPod would display MP3 cover art. Everything I read since Tuesday said tracks off of iTMS was supported which equaled that AAC embedded cover art works but no mention of MP3 cover art. Since the cover isn't physically embedded into the track I had some concerns. Fortunately Apple once again took this into consideration and yes. MP3 cover art is copied over to the iPod. Beyond that you've all seen the screenshots of how the cover art is displayed: mini-picture to the left with title, artist, and album to the right and a bright blue (God I love that screen.) progress bar down below. To access a larger version of the cover art simply press the select button and cover art will be full screened for about 7 seconds then return to the main screen. If you hit the select button twice it shows your rating where the progress bar normally is. After a couple of seconds the progress bar slides back into place. Slick.

Continue to part II...

SiliconAddict
Oct 30, 2004, 06:24 PM
Photo features
OK. I have 514 pictures on my iPod right now. Thats a tad under 10% of my entire photo collection. *shrugs* I'm a shutterbug. I've only had a few hours to play with this feature but so far overall I like it. It's a tad slower then I'd like but its not bad. What do I mean by slow? I click on my collection and it takes about 3 seconds to load the thumbnails. That is only with 514 songs. I should load up the rest of them and see how well it scales. Once you are into the thumbnails though its fast as hell. Almost too fast. Scrolling through the album it takes about 7 seconds with 25 picts per page. That is fast. The problem, if you want to call it one. Is when you slow down to get to a specific pict its VERY easy to scroll past it. Of course this could simply be me since I've never owned an iPod so I'm not a wheel jockey yet. :) I do think the wheel is overly sensitive though. As others have said the picts are enough to distinguish one pict from another to find a specific picture you are looking for but don't expect to pick out details from the browsing screen. Just as an FYI the screen shots on Apple's site of the photo browsing feature are NOT the same size. Those photos are lager. Again I'm nitpicking.
The video out feature is cool but I'm having problems with some of my pictures. Specifically those that aren't your typical shape. Example I have a cityscape of Boston that I stitched together in Paint Shop Pro. Or a picture of the USS Constitution. I can view it perfectly fine on the iPod but when I go to display it on the TV it throws up on the picture.

iTrip
I picked up an iTrip on the way home from picking up the iPod. *shrugs* There are 10,000 reviews of that out there. All I can say is it works with the iPod Photo. No reason it shouldn't have.


Wishlist
-One thing I would have liked as a feature is a light level option under the backlight settings. Think 1-5. The screen isn't THAT bright but it still would be nice to be able to turn down the backlight and maybe get a few tracks out of the thing before it dies.
-I wish you could put the main manu items you have turned on in order of pref. (Suggestion? On the pref page where you can turn items on and off hold down the select button and the item playlists, artists, albums, songs, etc starts blinking as its selected. Then use the scroll wheel to move it to where you want it in the list.)
-The back of the iPod is insanely scratch prone. WTF? I've treated this thing like my first born and it already has a couple scratches on it, albeit very, very minor ones. Apple should look at using an alternative metal. Maybe Aluminum? I hope that someone comes out with a case for these larger iPods, other then Apple's, because in a couple weeks I don't even want to think how badly scratched this thing is going to be.
-[update]Apple needs a better firewire cable. Its a major PITA to remove because there isn't much of a plug to grab onto. On a laptop this wouldn't be that big of a deal but on the back of a desktop that might have several other cables next to it. It somewhat sucks. That and the cable, at least for me, should be another foot or so longer. The headphone cord is the perfect size but in that case you are dealing with a person who, for the most part doesn't vary from person to person. A computer setup is a different matter. That and since the firewire cable is the only cable you can use on the provided outlet brick it makes placing the ipod on a desk while listening to it a few feet away difficult.
-[update] Why didn't Apple allow audio only through the AV cables? I know there are going to be a few times I'm going to be in a hotel and want to listen to tunes without putting on the ear buds. It would have been nice if I could simply have selected audio out from iTunes and jacked it into the TVís line in. Yah I can create a work around for this in the slideshow but still. It sort of seems like a no brainer.


Conclusion: My preeeeecioussssssssssssss

PS - It also works well as a flashlight :D I had to go out to the garage and the light bulb blew. Used my iPod to see while I changed the bulb. Better then a dang Swiss Army Knife.

t300
Oct 30, 2004, 06:41 PM
I agree with the good points in your review. I didn't have any troubles you had, but what can I say...I'm on a Mac. I am LOVING mine and even though it is my 4th iPod, it is like the first time all over again. It's as if I have never even used an iPod. I love it!

Inkmonkey
Oct 30, 2004, 06:41 PM
Fantastic review. Wish I hadn't just bought a 40 Gb a couple month's back. I guess I could always sell it.

As far as a case - go out and buy a microfibre pouch. Many camera stores will carry them. Good for protecting and for polishing up your preciousssss.

link92
Oct 30, 2004, 06:55 PM
OK, that just makes me want one even more... I'll probably buy one because I take too many photos on holiday...

Abstract
Oct 31, 2004, 01:11 AM
I really do need to go to the store to see how good the dang thing is.

While I would still have bought the 4G 20 GB (don't have much music or photos....plus the cost factor for a student....), it would be nice just to hold onto it and play with it.

I have no problem with the b/w screen, but colour just sounds better, y'know? ;)

Great review, btw.

AmigoMac
Oct 31, 2004, 06:55 AM
Thanks for the review... Still waiting shipment confirmation from apple :(, I can't believe it, I ordered the same day... ;)

I've read just nice reviews about that baby and seems to be that my review won't be till next week. :( ;)

iEric
Oct 31, 2004, 09:28 AM
I agree with the good points in your review. I didn't have any troubles you had, but what can I say...I'm on a Mac. I am LOVING mine and even though it is my 4th iPod, it is like the first time all over again. It's as if I have never even used an iPod. I love it!
Just wondering, but is it annoyingly thick? Considering you have had the thinner ones...Cause it's almost the same thickness as the first gen ones isn't it? Thats the only thing thats making me not buy the photo iPod.

How many hours of playing do you ACTUALLY get on it?

jxyama
Oct 31, 2004, 11:49 AM
which connection do you use? in any case, firewire or usb2, 40+ GB data transfer will take at least 40 minutes, probably more like an hour. so i don't think the "slowness" of syncing is the iPod/iTunes thing...

sounds like a fun device. enjoy it and good job with a detailed review.

Loge
Oct 31, 2004, 12:11 PM
Great review :) . I had pretty much made up my mind though the minute it was announced. The 60GB and color interface was enough really - the photo viewing is a good bonus.

I think the font they use now is Myriad (changed from the venerable Chicago). There is a version by Adobe, it gets supplied with Creative Suite. I expect there are other versions available.

Mechcozmo
Oct 31, 2004, 01:36 PM
Nice review. I like my 1st generation FireWire cable better than the newer ones. The cable is thicker. I want one...hehe

AliensAreFuzzy
Oct 31, 2004, 01:43 PM
For the audio out on the AV cable, have you tried just playing the iPod normally with music and just hooking those up?

James Craner
Oct 31, 2004, 01:49 PM
Nice Review, I am just waiting for my 60GB Photo iPod, it shipped yesterday.

Squire
Oct 31, 2004, 02:49 PM
Thanks for the review. I'm trying really hard to justify the cost of one but damn they're expensive over here. (After a quick calculation, about $688US.) I guess my next "toy" will be the three Jam Packs.

Squire

Harry K.
Oct 31, 2004, 03:11 PM
I love the iPod Photo and I'll get one.

But three things bug me:

1) FW800 should be there on the iPodp, it takes HOW long to load it all up?
2) Atleast an SD card slot should be built into the thing!
3) Contacts SHOULD have the pictures of people from Address Book.

That's my three cents.

stevehaslip
Oct 31, 2004, 03:20 PM
by the way the font they use on screen is Myriad Pro (http://store.adobe.com/type/browser/P/P_1706.jhtml). Apple currently use it as their corporate font on everything from powerbooks to iPods. They use it all over their website and on the logos etc. It comes with every mac (i think) it definately comes with photoshop and illustrator etc. Its available for both pee cees and macs!

Koodauw
Oct 31, 2004, 08:10 PM
I read that you can not view the photos while listening to music. Its either one or the other, unless you set up a play list to go with a slide show. Would any with the iPod photo be able to confirm this for me?

jxyama
Nov 1, 2004, 11:10 AM
I love the iPod Photo and I'll get one.

But three things bug me:

1) FW800 should be there on the iPodp, it takes HOW long to load it all up?
2) Atleast an SD card slot should be built into the thing!
3) Contacts SHOULD have the pictures of people from Address Book.

That's my three cents.

1) probably doesn't matter. HD speed is also a bottleneck.
2) CF is the most popular format right now. if it can't cater to the most popular format and breaks the designs, it would be useless.
3) good idea. it's almost a no brainer, actually. i'd expect the next version of Address Book to enable this.

SiliconAddict
Nov 1, 2004, 11:26 AM
I read that you can not view the photos while listening to music. Its either one or the other, unless you set up a play list to go with a slide show. Would any with the iPod photo be able to confirm this for me?


Not true. You can multitask on the iPod Photo :)

wPod
Nov 1, 2004, 01:36 PM
horrible review!!!! NOW I WANT ONE!!!! i thought they sounded pretty cool when they came out. and you just made it sound like just what i want. ill probably get one when my good old first gen kicks the can (or i overload the 10GB capacity) maybe it would make a good xmas present for me!!

verces
Nov 4, 2004, 07:43 AM
Cruel and dastardly review!!!!

You're not making it any easier on me waiting to buy that iPod when I leave this country....

sinisterdesign
Nov 4, 2004, 11:43 AM
Just wondering, but is it annoyingly thick? Considering you have had the thinner ones...Cause it's almost the same thickness as the first gen ones isn't it? Thats the only thing thats making me not buy the photo iPod.

How many hours of playing do you ACTUALLY get on it?

i can't imagine that the size would be that big of a deterrant. compared to my 2g/20GB, it's about 1/8" THINNER and seems to weigh the same in my hands. i know it's slightly larger than the 4g models, but it's got COLOR SCREEN, 60GB HD and better battery life! i'll trade a fraction of an inch and an extra ounce of weight for those specs any day.

the screen is gorgeous and the battery seems great so far. i charged it full last night & have been listening to it almost constantly for the past 3 hours and just now as i'm writing this did the battery level tick down one notch (maybe 1/6th - 1/8th?)

i held off buying a 4g for this exact reason (waiting on color, larger HD). the 4g/40GB would have been a decent upgrade from my old one, but didn't justify the expense. this one definately does...

jared_kipe
Nov 4, 2004, 12:08 PM
I wish there was some pictures of the thing in action, cause I just don't believe it looks as good as apple makes it look.

SiliconAddict
Nov 5, 2004, 09:24 AM
I wish there was some pictures of the thing in action, cause I just don't believe it looks as good as apple makes it look.


Hi. I've tried taking a few pictures. The screen never turns out right. check www.ipodlounge.com and check over there. They posted picts a week ago.

SiliconAddict
Nov 5, 2004, 09:24 AM
OK. So I haven't seen any specifics on iPod photo battery life. So I fingered I'd post my initial results. First thing I wanted to do , which I generally do whenever I get a new PDA is turn on the majority of the bells and whistles to see what the worst case scenario is. My first test last night consisted of the following setup:

iPod photo 60GB:

-Backlight set to always on.
-Volume set to aprox 50%-60%
-EQ turned off
-All tracks played in 256 bit rate, 48kHz sample rate

The iPod from start of play lasted 5 hours 35 minutes. Keeping in mind that this is with the backlight on. This evening, after seeing the Incredibles, :) I will do further tests with the backlight off, but so far the results are very encouraging. I would not be at all surprised to see greater then double the battery life with the backlight off.

Squire
Nov 5, 2004, 04:59 PM
From what I've been hearing, the battery life seems pretty good. That alone might be reason for an upgrade.

This guy, Mike Wendland, got 16 hours out of his.

The music part of the iPod works much the same as the other models, except for one important improvement: battery life. Apple says you can now get 15 hours worth of nonstop music play from iPod Photo. I started my review unit playing about 7 a.m. Saturday. It petered out a little after 11 p.m., close enough to the 15-hour mark for me.

This was posted on MacBytes a little while ago.
http://www.freep.com/money/tech/mwendland2e_20041102.htm

Squire