Archive for the 'iPod' Category

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The big plus and bigger minus of the video iPod

So, despite Jobs' denials and Apple's usual insane secrecy in order to build crazed hype, it was the long-awaited (and delayed) video iPod that was launched yesterday.

Aside from worrying that this latest iPod will suffer the same screen weakness of the recently released Nanos, this is a perfectly logical and lovely extension to the iPod range.

And here's a pic:

Apple has signed a deal with ABC/Disney to let people download episodes of various TV shows for $1.99. It's an interesting approach and it's good old-fashioned ballsy risk-taking that Apple is renowned for.

Will people want TV programmes on their iPod? Who knows? We'll find out. Even the 20 minutes it will take with even a fast Net connection shouldn't be too much of a trauma.

I think a sure-fire winner is the 2,000+ music videos that will be available. Plus, it's now inevitable that people will start producing amusing amateur shorts for people. And why not? In fact, the more I think about it, the more fun this Video iPod sounds.

Except, except, one big problem: battery life.

I have a Photo iPod and I know from experience that if you even leave the colour screen to turn off after 10 seconds, it drains the battery enormously. You go from, I dunno, 20 hours of play to about six.

I can only imagine what playing a colour video will do. We'll have to wait to see, but I reckon, tops, three hours. Three hours is dangerous territory because it starts killing the whole portability. And iPods charge slowly as well, making the problem more pronounced.

Apple has also still only produced a top-end 60GB version of the video iPod – which if you start downloading alot of video is starting to kill that lovely feeling I have with my 60GB Photo iPod that I am really going to struggle filling it. I am up to 26GB with my entire collection. But if I had 100 music videos as well, then I have to start worrying about what to take off.

Apple has also stressed that the new video iPod are smaller. But, like mobile phones, I don't like things too small if they're high-spec. The technology will of course catch up and Apple is doing a smart and brave thing. But is it stretching a little too far a little too early?

I would rather have a fatter video iPod with a bigger hard drive and a bigger battery. Apple can shrink it down *after* it has fulfilled its main function – which will be playing videos for as long as possible on the battery. Mind you, it's academic at the moment, you can't buy em in the UK.

I'm going to sit this one out. But I do like the idea though.

One more solider for the revolution

I have a fan. Mr Scaife of York appears in The Guardian's tech letters page today.

It begins with the delightful words “Kieren McCarthy is right”. LOL. I may have to photocopy it and send copies to all my exes and my family.

The insightful, intelligent and, I have no doubt, extremely well respected (a pillar of the community?)  Mr Scaife likes my Technobile rant last week.

One more soldier for the revolution. Before the end of the year (presuming of course The Guardian continues to run my increasingly insane rants), I reckon we can muster at least 20 of us and, with some assiduous letter-writing, bring the world's leaders to their knees with a potent blend of sarcasm and grumpiness. You heard it here first.

Here's the letter:

Kieren McCarthy (Technobile, September 29) is right. Many of us continue to use old computers, music equipment and mobiles because we have learned, sometimes through bitter experience, to ignore the latest marketing campaign. A mobile phone is just that: a telephone. If you want to take digital photographs, why do it with a camera that would have been laughed out of the high street two years ago? Why do you need to send picture messages? Are you in one of the few professions that could actually improve productivity by doing so? No, most people are just swallowing the hype and forking over their money for the latest must-have gizmo.

Wireless networking? Great for hackers. iPod? Who wants to buy an electronic device with embedded non-replaceable batteries? That's disposable tech to me.

Andrew Scaife, York

The name 'Podcast' is utterly misleading

Podcasts are the new exciting thing – they are webcasts of recorded programs named after the iPod. Except, as I have just discovered, you cannot actually record anything but the most basic sound on an iPod – making the name utterly misleading.

I am a bit annoyed as the main reason for me finally getting an iPod was to record interviews. I was getting sick of having to fart about with mini-discs, which are fiddly, record for a limited length of time, and require lots of extra kit. The iPod can store an enormous number of interviews, requires no external storage, can be easily shifted onto a computer etc etc etc. In short, I was hoping to overhaul my interview recording.

Except the iPod only records at 8kHz (16-bit) – far too low for anything but the most basic recording. And that is hardwired into the iPod's hardware.

This is the real bottom end of the scale and can only really be used for voice memos. Music for example usually comes at 44kHz. I can use it as effectively as my mini-disc for recording telephone interviews but for good interviews, especially for half-decent Podcasts, you need at least 16kHz.

There are various conspiracy theories about this: that Apple was leant on by the music industry to prevent bootlegging of live concerts becoming the next big (uncontrolled) market. But Apple has never really listened to anyone except itself. I suspect – as ever – Apple has simply decided that that is what it wants to do and so has done it.

It is a stupid and infuriating decision though. And it has lead to the irony that any decent Podcasts will not, almost by definition, *not* be recorded on iPods.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel however. A load of geeks have developed their own version of Linux that you can install on the iPod and so do things with the iPod that Apple in its nannying state has decided it doesn't want you to.

It is called – imaginatively – iPod Linux. And if you install it on your iPod, you can boot into the operating system and record audio at  8, 32, 44.1, 88.2 or even 96kHz. Then you come out again, go back into the iPod and there is your high-quality recording. Terrific!

Except because the latest iPods use a different chipset to the old ones, the boys have yet to reverse-engineer their Linux version to work with the fourth-generation and Photo iPods. I have a Photo iPod annoyingly so it looks as though I'm going to have to wait things out.

The latest developments can be found on their blog. The work is voluntary and I *really* want to be able to record at a decent rate and get decent quality audio, so they will be getting a donation off me and I strongly advise anyone reading this to do likewise.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Apple is going to blow it all over again with its ridiculous efforts to control its inventions. But more of that in an article I'm planning.

Finished! The iPod is done!

Yes! After an entire seven days of endless toil (no, I'm serious), I have finally finally managed to get my entire CD collection on my new, monster, 60GB iPod. Just under 20GB of music – just over 3,200 songs.

Thank christ for that. Maybe I can get my life back now. Once I have the energy I will write up my insane experience and the fact that I have been sucked into Planet iPod.

I tell you what though, my old passion for music is back with a vengeance. Have already bought three albums and six singles online. Now to mention four – yes, four – iPod extras: a cassette adaptor to play it in my car; a mic for recording interviews; a stereo system so I don't have to sit with my earphones in all day; and a plug-in infra-red remote controller so I don't have to get up from my desk while listening to the iPod in the specially designed stereo.

I'm not counting the super-expensive-but-my-god-that's-good earphones that I have also ordered. Even my old super-good earphones are no longer good enough for my new prized possession.

Jesus, I hope this insanity fades soon. I've got to get some rest, got to get some sleep, got to get some work done. Plus I can't afford to spend £400 on music and iPod accessories every bloody month.