Wednesday October 26, 2005 7:51 pm
The Gear Live iPod video Quick Review
So just about everyone who could afford it picked up the new 5th generation iPod with video support, and it seems that it is a hit. Adding to the myriad of reviews out there, we figured we would do a no-nonsense “quick review” of the device. Not sure what that means? Well, after writing the full review twice and having it turn up as garbled text both times, we have shortened it to hit the keys point to save from further frustration that would result in throwing an iMac through the window.
The first thing we are hitting up today are the accessories that come packaged with the new iPod. Nothing out of the ordinary, as you get earbuds, and a dock adapter. The USB cable is important to note, though, as everyone needs to know that the 5th generation iPod does not support the FireWire connection. My dock has been hooked up by FireWire ever since the 3rd generation unit, but the 5th generation version follows the lead of the iPod nano and does not allow for syncing over FireWire. Our favorite accessory is the protective “sheath” which is seemingly meant to keep your iPod protected from scratches, as opposed to protected from a bad fall.
When the iPod is first seen laying in the box, two things are immediately noticeable to anyone who has previously owned one. First, the screen is quite a bit larger. When we heard that the size was increased by about half an inch, we didn’t realize just how much bigger the screen would seem. It is certainly a marked difference. Secondly, to compensate for the larger screen, the iPod surface is now flat, with much more immediate corners at the side of the face as opposed to the curves of the previous model. It certainly doesn’t look bad, just a bit different.
This is there the beauty of Apple’s new iPod comes in - it is thin. I mean, it is amazingly thin. We picked up one of the 60GB iPods and rejoiced when we realized that navigating the menu’s of the device would no longer render us with cramped palms due to the size of the unit. In fact, the new 60GB version is even thinner than the 20GB 4th generation unit. The other major physical change is that the in-line remote port has left us, which means that any previous generation iPod accessories that took advantage of that connection are useless on the new iPod. Luckily, vendors have started releasing devices that use the dock connection.
This is the prized possession of the iPod with video support - the screen is a large, vibrant 2.5-inch TFT display with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. Now, every is gaga-ing over the fact that the gen 5 iPod handles video, but the unit takes advantage of the addition screen size in other ways as well. For instance, when browsing your photo library, you can see more images on the screen as once. Also, the calendar no longer requires a tight squint in order to see what appointments you have coming up. When looking at album art, the detail is great. Video encoded in H.264 looks superb, and the iPod will even play widescreen letterboxed content - suffice to say, the screen in a winner.
One other thing, Apple will have you believe that you need to purchase a new dock for use with this iPod - not the case. In the image below you will see that I have the new iPod docked in the same unit that I previously used with the 4th generation 60GB model. It isn’t as snug a fit, but it work perfectly. Save the cash and buy a case instead.
While Apple has released new iPods that were only incremental updates of their predecessors, the new fifth generation model brings features that are a first for Apple’s digital audio player line. The new screen is great for movies, and in conjunction with its thinner frame, making navigation and viewing content a joy. On the negative side, I am not sure that the move to disable FireWire support was a necessary one, as it would have been nice to keep the dock connected to my otherwise unused FireWire port rather than clog up another USB 2.0 connection. Also, this iPod is far more prone to scratches because of the material used on the face, so be sure to pick up a case for this one. All in all, if you are in the market for a device that does music and video well, it’s either the new iPod, or the Gmini 402.
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