Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Apple iPod Video: 5G 30 and 60 gig

Reviewed Nov 28, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Let's face it, I don't have to tell you what an iPod is. Everyone from grandma to junior in the 3rd grade knows about the iPod, and you'll see them peering out of the pockets of folks on the street in Paris, Manhattan and Peoria. Apple released their 5G (5th generation) iPod line in late October 2005. That's quite a few generations of the hit portable music player, and miraculously, I, the Editor in Chief of a major mobile electronics site, took that long to succumb. "But I can play MP3's on my PDA", I said. And I watch videos on my iPAQ hx2490 and Dell Axim X51v Pocket PCs all the time (nothing better for beating long flight boredom). But 4 gig CF and SD cards are as big as it gets right now, limiting the amount of multimedia goodness you can put on your PDA. And the price of those high capacity cards approaches the cost of a 30 gig video iPod. If you've burned DVD video content for your PDA, you know it's not the easiest and most user-friendly experience. Enter Apple, famous for making things easy. And so they did, using iTunes and the iTunes store, it's brain-dead easy to get music onto your iPod, and videos too. The Apple iTunes store has music videos, a selection of TV shows and (surprise) Pixar shorts you can purchase and download to your iPod for a modest $1.99 each. Songs of course, are 99 cents each. And, like the last generation Photo iPod, it shows photos too. . . and it syncs calendar and contacts with MS Outlook. And unlike earlier generation iPods, it's not shockingly expensive. OK, I'm game!

The Basics

Just in case you're a newbie, the iPod is a portable music player that's quite small and very attractive. It can play MP3 as well as AAC music along with Apple's own format used on the tunes in their iTunes store. You can burn your CDs using iTunes (or even another music burning app) in MP3 format or AAC for use in your iPod. That process is quite fast and you can generally burn an entire CD in 5 minutes or less. If you want to buy tunes, you'll need to use the extremely popular iTunes store to do so because that's the only DRM (digital rights management) format the iPod supports for copy protected music. Other commercial music download sites would like to offer iPod compatible copy protected songs, but Apple won't share information about their Fair Play DRM standard with other companies.

The iTunes application for both Windows and Mac is included, and you'll use it to burn music, load videos and photos, sync other data and access the iTunes store to buy music and videos. You'll use the included USB cable to transfer music to and from the iPod over a fast USB 2.0 connection (backward compatible with USB 1.1). The iPod charges over USB, and you can purchase a charger separately if you wish. Firewire isn't supported on the 5G iPods, though USB 2.0 is pretty darned fast and isn't much slower than using Firewire.

The 5th generation iPod video can also store and show photos in JPEG format that you've transferred from your computer or you can transfer them directly from a digital camera if you purchase Apple's optional camera cable. The iPod also functions as a removable drive for backing up and transferring data from one computer to another (just in case you can't fill all those gigs with tunes, videos and photos).

How much can it hold? The 30 gig is good for 7,500 songs, 75 hours of video or 12,500 photos. Double those figures for the 60 gig model! Is it extremely easy to use? Yes, that and good looks are the iPod's strong points. How long can it play? Apple claims 14 hours of music playback for the 30 gig and 20 hours for the 60 gig which has a larger battery. Our 30 gig has lived up to that claim and it has managed 2:15 minutes of video playback (Apple claims 2 hours).

In the Box

In the absolutely tiny box you'll find the iPod player, a set of white earbud headphones (black players still get white headphones), two sets of earbud pads, a USB 2.0 cable for charging and syncing music, a slim slip case and a CD with software for Mac and Windows. No charger is included, sorry. This means you'll either pay out an additional $29 for a charger or stick with charging the iPod using your computer's USB port.

Looks many not be everything, but let's face it— they are

Consumer electronics items do best in the marketplace when they're downright pretty. MP3 players, cell phones and even cameras are personal devices that extend our sense of personal style. Apple, the granddaddy of style, has always made a sweet looking iPod. But the latest generation Nano and iPod video devices are perhaps the most stunning, being impossibly thin, mirror-shiny on the back and maintaining that attractive minimalist iPod look with track wheel up front. The 30 and even 60 gig models are incredibly thin at .43" and .55" respectively. The width and height remain the same as prior full sized iPod models despite the larger 2.5" screen.

You can get your iPod in either black or white and in 30 gig or 60 gig versions. The 30 gig will set you back $299, or double your storage to 60 gigs for $100 more. Black or white, it's your choice, though I'd recommend black if you plan to watch a lot of videos since black surrounds enhance our sense of image contrast and brightness (now you know why notebook and many TV bezels are black). While the iPod Nano gained some bad press for scratching easily, our black iPod Video, with reasonable care, hasn't succumbed to excessive scarring. The chrome-like back will show fingerprints like crazy, along with a few fine scratches, so be kind to your device if pristine looks count. The included slip case's inner surface is super-soft and is reminiscent of chamois: combine that with a snug fit and you've got something that will wipe off some of those fingerprints each time you insert and remove your player. For better protection, consider 3rd party cases which are available in many forms including silicon jackets, leather flips and arm-band holders.

What about the music?

Music is the heart and soul of the iPod, and the 5G iPods retain all of the goodness of past generations including an easy to use interface, very good audio quality and excellent tune management on the desktop and iPod. The 5G iPods have improved audio quality which you might not be able to hear using the included headphones, but put on a good set of headphones and you'll likely notice. Not that Apple's standard issue earbuds are bad, in fact they're some of the nicest we've heard unless you're spending over $100 for a pair. The unit can play MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store), Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF file formats. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and the included earbuds have 8-mm drivers using Neodymium transducer magnets with matching frequency response (or so Apple claims). Does the iPod sound good? Yes, it sounds very good and beats many other players on the market even when doing classical and jazz torture tests. Given the lossy nature of MP3 and AAC formats, you won't get the same experience as listening to a CD but that's the tradeoff we make when using portable players. You can use Apple's lossless or WAV formats for really superb quality recordings but those files are huge compared to MP3 and AAC files.

Voice Recording

The 5G iPods don't use the proprietary audio jack, so you'll need to get a 5G compatible mic that plugs into the dock connector. The good news is that audio recording quality has improved and there are options to record in Low (22.05 KHz, mono) and High (44.1 KHz, stereo).


Apple includes Stopwatch, Clock (shows home and other time zones of your choice), Notes (view text files copied to your iPod in disk mode), Screen Lock (setup the iPod to require a password), Calendar, Contacts, and four color games: Brick (breakout), Parachute (shoot the enemies as they parachute in from helicopters), Solitaire and Music Quiz which plays a random song from your iPod and gives you four titles from which you must select the correct one.


It's an iPod— what's not to like? It's gorgeous, can hold an obscene amount of music, show photos, easily fit in your pocket and there are a huge number of tempting accessories available for it. It's the easiest to use among media players with an intuitive navigation system and good desktop software. And it just got better with a 2.5" 320 x 240 color display and video playback features. Our only complaint about the iPod was the scary price (remember not too long ago when they cost more than $500?), but these give you a lot of bang for the buck without the traumatic price tag. Go get one!

Pro: Very easy to use, great sound, plays video as well as audio. Acts as a portable photo album and portable hard drive. Great color display that's saturated, bright and vivid. Huge capacity for music and video in a very, very thin and small device.

Con: You can burn music from your CDs and put them on your iPod, no problem. But if you want to buy copy protected music it must come from the Apple iTunes store. Shows fingerprints like crazy and can scratch if you don't take good care of it. Video playback times on a charge could be longer.Trans union

Price: $299 for 30 gig and $399 for 60 gig.

Web Site: www.apple.com/ipod

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

By= Mobiletechreview

Sunday, January 08, 2006

EyeBud 800 Wearable iPod Video Display

The SeattlePI reports this morning that a company in the business of making video display products for military and industrial uses is bringing a new product to the iPod market.

eMagine Corp. has developed a wearable headset system known as the EyeBud 800 that plugs into a fifth-generation, video-capable iPod and projects its video feed, processed to appear at a higher resolution than the source video, in front of one eye of the wearer. The projected video appears, to the user, to be larger than that of the iPod screen held at a comfortable distance; it provides the experience of watching a 105-inch display from 12 feet away.

Set to debut in the first half of this year, the EyeBud 800 is expected to retail for $599. The unit consists of the headset along with a control module, similar to an iPod in size, which includes a rechargeable battery pack. eMargin is excited about the anticipated consumer embrace of their new iPod accessory.

    "Suddenly you've got this big-screen, movie-screen, home-theater experience, wherever you are," said Gary Jones, eMagin's president and CEO.
Thanks to MacRumors for the tip.

By: iPod Hacks

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Shure E4c Sound Isolating Earphones

The E4c iPod earphones further optimise the listening experience by utilising Shure’s new High-Definition driver with Tuned-Port technology to significantly enhance bass response.

Their comfortable sound isolating sleeves contour to the inner-ear, naturally sealing out more background noise than noise-cancelling alternatives, and the small, portable, attractive design position them as a must-have accessory for iPod users.

The included Personal Fit Kit for these iPod headphones comprises a pair of disposable foam sleeves, triple-flange sleeves and three sizes of ultra-soft flex sleeves to ensure a personalised, comfortable fit and maintain maximum sound isolation.

Weigh just over 1 ounce
Uses stage-quality technology and components
Tuned-Port technology significantly improves bass response
Ultra-wide frequency soundstage with brilliant highs and extended bass
Personal Fit Kit for maximum comfort and sound isolation

Price= £144.99

iSkin Evo3 for iPod video

iSkin again raises the bar by creating a custom-fitted skin that also includes a revolutionary ultra-clear, scratch resistant screen and face protector.

Also included with every eVo3 is the sleek and functional RevoClip 2. This low-profile polycarbonate clip rotates to give you the best angle to control your iPod when clipped to your belt. It can be completely removed so that you can easily slip your iPod into a pocket or bag.

The case allows access to all ports and features an ultra thin click-wheel membrane for maximum coverage and maximum protection.

Currently only available in 2 colours and 2 sizes: Arctic and Eclipse. More colours coming soon!
Size A for 30GB iPod video and Size B for 60GB iPod video.

Removable belt clip
Scratch resistant face and screen protector
Protective membrane over the click wheel
Compatible with Apple Universal Dock

Price = £20

By: iPod-World

Friday, January 06, 2006

Apple iPod (20GB) - Review

By Michael Kobrin

Whenever Apple releases a new iPod—or anything, these days—there's quite a bit of buzz in the air. The recent release of the "new" 20GB color iPod, however, doesn't give much reason for a big commotion, as it represents merely a slight shifting of Apple's product line: The iPod photo has dropped the "photo" from its moniker and is now the standard iPod. And the full-size iPod lineup has shrunk; you can get the color iPod in 20GB (tested) or 60GB versions only. It's still an excellent music player and photo viewer, but we're a little disappointed by how closely it resembles the iPod photo.

The 20GB color iPod is slightly thinner and lighter than both the 40GB and 60GB photo models, and slightly thicker and heavier than the fourth-generation 20GB iPod—in other words, pleasantly plump but not chunky. Battery life is the same as the iPod photo's; Apple claims 15 hours for continuous audio playback (based on 128-Kbps AAC files) and 5 hours of photo slide shows. We tested audio playback on our review unit using a real-world mix of MP3 and AAC files encoded at 128 to 320 Kbps—as well as a few button presses here and there—and the battery was good for more than 16 hours. Note that this is an improvement over the previous standard (noncolor) iPod's roughly 12-hour battery life.

Since we reviewed the iPod photo, iTunes 4.9 was released, which supports podcast synchronization without any additional software. A podcast menu is now available on the iPod under the Music menu, and you can set bookmarks so you can return to specific points in a podcast. Of course, this is all available in older models via a firmware upgrade. Other minor interface changes include the addition of Playlists and Albums to the Main menu, which means that—for the first time—the entire Main menu doesn't fit on a single screen.

On both subjective listening tests and formal audio lab tests, the color iPod performs identically to the iPod photo and previous 20GB iPod, retaining its status as one of the best music players out there. Photo viewing is also essentially the same as with the iPod photo, although you can now immediately view images transferred to the iPod via the Apple iPod Camera Connector ($29). Although Apple did not bring back the brightness and contrast controls that disappeared with the introduction of the iPod photo, the screen is sufficiently bright in most lighting, and photos look crisp and vivid. Unfortunately, you still can't pan and zoom images, as you can with many other photo-capable players. And in syncing photos to the iPod you are still restricted to a single machine; if you sync them with a different machine, all of your photos will be replaced. The iPod photo introduced album artwork to the Now Playing screen, and this iteration adds support for podcast artwork as well. And we still laud the iPod's excellent photo file format support, which includes JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD (Mac only), and PNG.

One thing that has many new iPod purchasers grumbling is that, unlike the iPod photo, the color iPod doesn't come with a docking base or breakout AV cable. So if you want to play back your pictures and slide shows on a TV, you'll need to plunk down some extra cash—$39 for the dock and $19 for the cable. But at least the color iPod's battery can be charged via the included USB cable.

While the new iPod is still an excellent audio player that's extraordinarily easy to use, it won't be able to rest on its laurels for long. With so many innovative features being added to large-capacity hard-drive players, there are plenty of fine options out there for users who want more than just audio playback and limited photo features. For example, for around the same price, you can get the Archos Gmini 402, which is the same size but adds video playback, more flexible photo options, and recording abilities without a terribly complex interface. We can still comfortably recommend the iPod, of course, but we feel that the playing field has leveled, in part due to a lack of progress in the iPod line.

Player Type: Hard Disk MP3 Player
Radio: No
Recording, Voice: No
Recording, Line In: No
Audio Battery Life: 900 min
Screen Size: 220 x 176 pixels
Capacity: 20000 MB
Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.63 inches

iPod Nano - Review

By Michael Kobrin

Once again, Apple has come up with a design that turns heads. Enter the iPod nano. But this was a relatively easy one for the designers, if not the engineers: They took the full-size iPod and made it really, really slim. We measured it at just 80 cents thick—that's 3 quarters and a nickel, or 0.27 inches for you traditionalists—by 5 dimes long (3.5 inches) by 2 pennies wide (1.6 inches). According to Apple, that's 62 percent smaller than the now-discontinued iPod mini the nano is replacing. It weighs just 1.5 ounces, and it really does fit in the smaller front pocket of your blue jeans without the slightest bulge. A few things changed—some compromises in the name of miniaturization and some actual improvements—but the end result is a spectacular product. Sure, it doesn't have an FM tuner or voice recording, but it does have an unsurpassed interface, a color screen, excellent sound quality, and an undeniable cool factor. Plus, it's flash-based, so you don't have to worry about skipping or dead hard drives.

We received the black model for testing, but we were slightly disappointed to find that the included stock Apple earbuds have retained their distinctive "mug-me" white. A nice touch is that the icon that showed up on our desktop was black. The iPod nano doesn't support syncing via FireWire; instead, a message comes up telling you to please use the included USB cable. It still charges via FireWire, though. Upon first connection, our 4GB model had 3.7GB available for storage, with the remaining space being used for system files. It took us only 1 minute 6 seconds to transfer 512MB of MP3 files via USB 2.0.

One of the biggest additions for Microsoft Windows users is that the iPod nano syncs with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express contacts and calendars (in addition to those from iCal, of course). We had absolutely no trouble doing so, and contacts are sortable by first or last name. Games include the same old Brick, Music Quiz, Parachute, and Solitaire. The stopwatch, however, is a very cool new feature, especially considering that the nano is ultratiny and flash-based—ideal for working out. It can record lap times as well, and then saves them along with a date and time stamp. When you go back and view your recorded times, it also shows you your shortest, longest, and average lap in addition to your total time and individual lap times. The iPod nano also boasts a world clock which displays the time in analog or digital. Another handy feature is being able to adjust the audiobook reading speed.

Apple added a security measure called Screen Lock, which is a graphical combination lock for which you create a 4-digit code. The click wheel provides just the right amount of sensitivity so you don't scroll through the numbers too fast. After you set the lock, you can still use the Play/Pause button but nothing else. Your code pops up on the screen each time you choose Turn Screen Lock On from the menu as a reminder; this is handy but doesn't provide particularly robust security.

Subjective sound quality is nearly identical to that of the final-generation iPod mini, which is to say, excellent. Music is clear, with very solid bass and crisp highs. The stock Apple earbuds perform adequately, though the player can definitely handle high-end headphones with aplomb (the plug of our Etymotic ER4P canalphones, however, is actually slightly wider than the player itself!). There are 22 preset listening modes, so we think most users won't miss a customizable equalizer. The bass booster provides enough extra depth for thundering bass such as that found in some electronic music, though we heard significant harmonic distortion on the low end that noticeably altered the music. But the sound is plenty good enough with the EQ off.

On our formal tests, the iPod nano actually outperformed the 6GB iPod mini, with a slightly cleaner signal and better response in the lowest octave than its predecessor. Our square-wave test also showed that the output stage is significantly stronger than the mini's when loaded with Apple's stock earbuds but not as strong as that of the iPod shuffle, which has a different type of output. Apple rates the battery life at 14 hours of continuous audio playback, and it can fast-charge to 80 percent in 1.5 hours.

Photos sync easily and quickly via iTunes; just select the iPod tab in Preferences, and then choose Photos. The 176-by-132-pixel 1.5-inch screen is about 0.2 inches smaller than the iPod mini's, but it gains color; photos look sharp and vivid, though we're still wishing for pan and zoom capabilities. Format support is still admirably broad, encompassing JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD (Mac only), and PNG. It can do slide shows with music, customizable slide times, and several different transitions.

Naturally, there are already a few accessories for the nano, including lanyard headphones (yes, it's wearable, via the headphone jack on the bottom of the device), a nano Dock, nano armbands, and nano Tubes (silicone cases). The cases are a good idea, as we've already covered our shiny new nano in fingerprints. And we're sure third parties will begin shipping other add-ons soon. Thankfully, the nano retains other iPod models' standard 30-pin dock connector, so it'll work with many existing accessories. It also ships with a plastic insert so you can use the nano with your existing iPod docks. Apple did not include any voice-recording features, however, so you won't be able to plug in third-party microphones. Nor will you be able to use add-ons that use the other iPods' 4-pin remote control connector, which is missing on the nano. (That means no remote, either.)

At $199 for the 2GB version and $249 for the 4GB version (both available in black or white), we feel that Apple has made an incredibly satisfying product. We were so impressed that we're awarding it our Editors' Choice award. Sure you can get a 20GB full-size iPod for $299, but the benefits of an extremely small size and no moving internal parts easily justify the price.

More digital music player reviews:

The good: The iPod Nano has a gorgeous, superslim design with a bright, photo-friendly screen. It is easy to operate and works seamlessly with iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, which has the world's largest selection of music. It boasts a nimble processor and system performance with no skipping, thanks to flash memory.

The bad: The iPod Nano suffers from unspectacular battery life, and though the device is durable, it scratches easily; blemishes show up more drastically on the black version. The Nano is pricey in terms of gigabytes per dollar, and its 4GB maximum capacity is not a good fit for many power users. The player skips many sought-after extra features such as FM radio and A/V-out, and it doesn't work with Camera Connector. The USB power adapter ($29) is not included.

The bottom line: Thanks to its limited capacity, the gorgeous iPod Nano isn't for everybody, but it sets the standard for MP3 players to come.

Player Type: Flash MP3 Player
Radio: No
Recording, Voice: No
Recording, Line In: No
Audio Battery Life: 840 min
Screen Size: 176 x 132 pixels
Capacity: 4000 MB
Dimensions: 1.6 x 3.5 x 0.27 inches
Weight: 1.5 oz

Buy It Here

Circuit City $249.99
Apple $249.00
Best Buy $249.99

By PCmag

iPod for free..well allmost

If you're one of those 90's CD collectors, and you want to update your technology, you're in luck. Millennium Music is offering to give you an iPod if you give them your old music CDs. All you have to do is ship them your CDs, and they will value them based on physical condition. The conversions of CDs to iPod is here:

45 CDs = 512 MB iPod Shuffle
65 CDs = 1 GB iPod Shuffle
85 CDs = 2 GB iPod Nano
110 CDs = 4 GB Nano
130 CDs = 30 GB iPod
175 CDs = 60 GB iPod

If you don't have that many CDs, you can use their Trade Calculator to pay the difference. Sounds like a good deal to me.

By/Thanks to, Lord of Net