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View Full Version : My iPod Photo review - 100% happy


nagromme
Nov 17, 2004, 01:33 AM
I FINALLY took the plunge and got my first iPod yesterday. How did I live without one? Any song or playlist, any place, any time!

I show photos to people a lot--and give the occasional business presentation--so I went with the Photo model. I don't care about unloading my camera, I want to show photos--and that's what this is meant for. I went with 60 GB since I can use the backup space to backup most of my HD--and boot my OWN OS X installation with MY files and apps on other peoples' Macs! (Haven't done that yet.) I almost got a Mini--love the size--but I can tell I made the right choice for my needs. No more lugging my PowerBook (and worrying about theft) just to show slideshows.

I got an iTrip and iBeam (flashlight/laser pointer) too, and have my sights on RemoteRemote 2 (wireless RF remote) and some kind of case with a flip-open face.

I'll happily answer any questions--just post here. And I may post pics if I get specific requests. (The basic info can all be found here: http://apple.com/ipodphoto .)

* Overall impression--a great device! If you like to show photos, this iPod is worth it. Most people will get the 40 I imagine. If you don't show photos, you may still like the color screen and the album art. Not to mention battery life. I love how thin/light the 20 and Mini are, but the 60 Photo is still small and easy to carry.

* The iPod and accessories came in 43.5 acres of cling film. (And not a single scratch or dead pixel.)

* After a day using it on and off for hiking, driving, slideshows to TV, playing Brick :) etc.... I doubt I'll ever use more than 1/4 of the battery. Plenty of cushion there. And no skipping at all.

* Great sound quality, to my untrained ear. (FWIW it seems to me that the EQ doesn't seem to have as strong an effect as the same EQs in iTunes.) No audio defects that I could detect--even though my non-Apple headphones have a metal ring that contacts the case (and supposedly can trigger an occasional staticky sound in some iPods).

* Great manufacturing quality and attention to detail all around, from packaging to cables to little things about how it works. Example: auto-pause when you pull the headphones out--one of those little touches that Apple is best at--features that don't make a bullet-list in a brochure, and may never even show up in a manual, but quietly make your life a tiny bit easier. (I find OS X is full of that kind of thing too.)

* I love that I can change star ratings right on the iPod. I have a playlist of the LEAST recently-played songs, and I play it as background for whatever I'm doing. I find lots of songs I appreciate more now that I've returned to them--so I can increase the star rating on the top. And some songs get demoted--what was I thinking? :)

* The LCD screen is very nice--very sharp and colorful--but it varies with your angle from side to side the way most laptop screens vary from top to bottom--an odd choice, since then your two eyes see slightly different things, which is distracting. The best viewing angle to avoid that is slightly from the left, not dead-on. You probably won't notice in the menus or in light or high-contrast areas, but you will in dark-on-dark details in the dark areas of photos. Still, photos look good, viewed indoors and out. Not as good as my laptop screen in brightness, but high DPI and better than my camera's screen.

* In dim light, you can just see the screen without backlight. Not usable in dim light--but as soon as you touch a control, the light comes on, and then it goes off again after 2 to 20 seconds (your choosing). So who cares HOW it looks without backlight? (And in normal light, it IS usable without backlight, unlike a laptop screen. I'd still want the backlight, unless you're talking really bright light.)

* The new UI is really nice. I like that it matches my PowerBook, and it's very readable. Lots of slick OS X-style animated transitions, with things sliding in and out. (Same with non-color iPods I believe.)

* The games are neat, but the Music Quiz that uses your own music is especially clever and addictive. It skips the very start of the song to make sure you don't just hear a silent lead-in.

* Calendars, Contacts, and Notes... all great too. Those use a tiny font, but non-smoothed (which is good for small fonts) and very readable. Calendars don't display iCal color-coding. All events are just red flags on a blue month.

* Alarm clock beep is short--might not wake some people up--but it's cool that it will play for Calendar events if you want it to.

* Time is apparently auto-synched from your computer. Not surprising, but I never knew that.

* Music in a slideshow does count towards playcounts, but does not shuffle. However, a slideshow set in iTunes to shuffle DOES appear on the iPod in shuffled order--and if you re-shuffle in iTunes, the iPod shows the new order. So you can get randomized music without using the iPod's own shuffle anyway.

* For slideshows you can only pick a playlist, not one song or album directly--but you can use an On-The-Go playlist for that purpose anyway.

* Smart playlists are not smart ON the iPod. Example: my "History" playlist shows the 100 most recently-played songs in order--and did not change while on the iPod. It DID change of course when I synched to iTunes (my iPod-played music appeared in the history both on my Mac and my iPod--and slideshow music was included). So the iPod still benefits from smart playlists, they just don't update live on the spot the way iTunes itself does. Not a big deal.

* The included "holster" case is nice--quite rigid back and front plates, but fabric-lined. However, it does hold pretty tightly onto your iPod. That's good in a way, but I've heard some users say it can cause scratches, so I think I won't use it. I might use the included "bag" case if I knew it wouldn't scuff the plastic face over time. I don't know what the material is but it's not that soft.

* Never used earbuds before, but they're actually comfortable. I greatly prefer the sound of my folding Sennheiser PX-100s, but the earbuds are nice and small to just throw in a pocket--and earmuff-friendly. The optional foam covers (came with 4, all alike) are a REAL pain to get on the earbuds, and they're black which doesn't match. But who cares--once I got them on I do like them. Except you have to peel them aside to see the "L" and "R" icons!

* The photo cache on your computer does take up some space. My HD was nearly full (~500 MB free) and it filled it all the way when I tried (for no good reason) to synch 1400 images! OK, fair enough... but the warning iTunes gave me implied that the iPod was full--and that music, not photos, was the culprit! Once I realized it was my PowerBook and the photos that were the issue, I deleted some junk and chose a smaller photo set and I was fine.

* Photo access is fast. As with album art, there is sometimes a brief blank placeholder that appears when as the image loads. But browsing full-screen pre-loads the images into RAM or something because you can flip through dozens FAST. Surprisingly fast--you have to get used to going slow on the wheel. That's good though because you can get through masses of photos quickly and find the one you want.

* Album art is very clear, especially when you click to enlarge. (I don't see a way to make it default to large, which I thought was possible--but most people will want small by default anyway, since then you get the title/album/artist too).

* Slideshows to TV are really cool. Someone who couldn't believe I spent $575 on a music player changed his mind upon seeing photo slideshows with music. You can shuffle photos, making a kind of visualizer as music plays. Too bad you can't shuffle the music AND the photos.

* Transition is a simple wipe right-to-left, or the reverse if you skip back. When you pause a slideshow, the music pauses too--and the pause icon appears and then fades away, OS X-style. Pretty slick. Wipes look soft on the iPod, but not on TV. Looks great either way--the motion's totally smooth.

* TV output looks great but is ONLY for slideshows (I wish it could be for album art). But that's good in a way: the TV shows black while you mess around setting up the show. The prev/next thumbnails on the iPod screen during TV play are neat--but I see no good way to skip past a slide totally. All you can do is double-skip quickly by it, or hit Menu to get out of the slideshow. If you've entered the slideshow from a particular image (like the first photo IN a folder instead of just playing the folder), then the iPod auto-selects the current photo when you exit the slideshow. It's easy then to skip ahead as many as you like without losing your place, and hit Play again. Great! But your music restarts then, and your audience is looking at black while you scroll ahead. It would be nice to do it in a more polished way.

* iPhoto users: you need iPhoto 4 to auto-synch. I don't want to upgrade until iPhoto 5 (for Tiger?) is out, so here's what I did in the meantime: made a folder to synch to and dragged my entire library in from the iPhoto window with Select All. Pretty simple, and they appear on the iPod in order as near as I can tell. Then I made subfolders in the main folder, for some of my albums, so I can more easily give slideshows. I'll have to periodically drag in new photos by hand, and that takes some HD space, but it will do the job until I get a new iPhoto.

* Photo synching to a folder DOES look into subfolders (multiple levels deep), and you can even check or uncheck certain folders at the top level within the main one (you can't see deeper by looking in the Prefs list, even though sub-subfolders do synch). Non-photo files are safely ignored. Unfortunately, that includes aliases, which would have been useful.

nagromme
Nov 17, 2004, 01:34 AM
Continued...

* A/V cable looks all-white in the photos--so how do you know what plug goes where? Never fear--look "up" at the "base" of each plug (the way you see them when plugging them in) and you see red/white/yellow color-coded rings.

* I love the 4G scrollwheel--including the fact that it's gray and stands out to complement the screen.

* Yes the back gets smudged instantly (wipes clean), and yes I worry about scratches on the front. But it's so shiny and nice :) I'll have to get a case sometime. (Thread here (http://ipodlounge.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=57220)--I'm looking for 4G cases even though I may have to wait for a Photo version to be released.)

It was a big purchase, but I've been saving for an iPod for a while, and I'm 100% satisfied so far.

Re accessories:

* iTrip: You can't always find a clear station quickly (in some areas)--but once you find one, it works well. Tune your radio until you find a weak station (doesn't have to be dead air) and then tune the iTrip to match. Where the iPod is located in the car matters somwehat. I tried the suggestion of collapsing my external car antenna but it didn't help me enough to be worth it. I converted (some of) the control files to audibook format (convert to AAC then rename .m4b) and that seems to stop them from coming up at random, as others have suggested. The other control files I just deleted--I don't need THAT many stations. Range is great--I can go into other rooms and still broadcast to my home stereo! FM doesn't equal a real connection--but radio quality is just fine for driving, once you find a station. And no wires or batteries to deal with! Convenience is king. Under $30 at CompUSA--I recommend this product.

* iBeam: gimmicky but fun and useful. Both the light and the laser are very bright. Plenty to read by, and they don't sleep--so your docked iPod can be a nightlight for instance. I wouldn't have wanted a flashlight or laser with its own battery to use up, but I like these running off the iPod which I'll always be recharging anyway.

* I had an awful pair of tiny NON-powered computer speakers in my closet. Yes, such things exist--you plug them into your UNamplified computer audio-out and you get sound from them. Not loud, not good--but louder than just headphones lying on a table, and at least you get stereo separation. They came free with my last (and I do mean last!) Windows PC. So I tried them with my iPod to have music in my kitchen. They work fine. No need for me to buy something fancier, and they need no power source other than the iPod.

OK, I'm off to play. If you don't have an iPod, get one! And consider the Photo model. I'll answer questions if I can.