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A personal look at the Apple ipod classic 120gb (review)

November 25th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I bought my new mp3 player just a few days ago. A brand new shiny (well until it was out of the box) Apple ipod classic 120gb (6th generation). I decided to purchase this music player because it is the only one that has a reasonable price, and it has a lot of capacity too. Where did all the other high capacity music players go? They all just got smaller it seems.

I want to use it to ferry my raw images from my DSLR between my PC at home, and the macs at college. So it had to be spacious. I’m not that much of an apple fan. I don’t think they really target power users, but keep everything as simple (yet sometimes very illogical) as possible. While this has it’s charms, it can be a pain when you just want that little bit extra. Nonetheless, I bought an ipod because I figured it also wouldn’t need any drivers on a mac or windows vista for the mass storage part. So it would fit my needs nicely.

My first impression was very good. It looks ok. It’s just the right size. Not too small and not too big. Flat enough to easily fit into a pocket. It’s not very light either, and that is a good thing. The construction of the ipod is very good. The housing is sturdy. It is very well built and it shows it. I wonder how those apple technicians open those ipods to swap out a battery, I can’t seem to find any screws or other means of opening it up.
I already dropped it once while it was playing music, from about 1,5 meters, not very high. But it is still working fine. I once crashed my zen touch of a stair while it was playing music. It landed on stone tiles. I raced down the stairs after it to see if it was fine. And it was. The aluminum back was dented pretty good, but the hard drive was fine. Those small hard drives can take pretty large G forces it seems. I can only hope the ipod classic will also withstand this kind of punishment. I don’t want to find out. But I think I’ll find out sooner or later anyway.

Cover flow is a nice feature, but doesn’t really help you navigate through your music if you’re looking for something. It’s actually pretty useless compared to the artist/album navigation screens. I really love that it displays all the cover art while playing songs or navigating lists though. I also noticed how quick the ipod is with responding to requests and loading the cover art.  While it wasn’t hard to be faster than my old creative zen touch, it’s still good.

The ipod has a few downsides as well. I’ve listed them below.

  • Itunes and the ipod crash consistently when I plug in my ipod and it is playing a song, or is paused (software version 2.0.1). Luckily apple doesn’t include a stop button on it’s products. I have to reset the ipod with hold on/off, menu+selector before it is usable again. I’ve filed an ipod issue through their feedback form. I hope they will listen and fix this.
  • Itunes doesn’t feature a library synchronizing feature. You know, one that syncs the library with file changes done outside of itunes. You have to use third party software for the synchronization of your file system and itunes (thanks iTLU, at least itunes is somewhat usable now!).
  • Where did the Californian design go?

    Where did the Californian design go?

    The back of the ipod has a too shiny and polished finish. I scratched it the first time I put it on a table. Also grease from your hands stick on the finish, and the designed in California (assembled in china) just looks like it has been assembled in a deep fryer instead. Some people use those ipod “socks” and other protective sleeves. But my opinion is that it’s just a device to be used, not admired and taken care of like an egg (other people will certainly disagree with me on this point). The front finish (aluminum) is fine though. I think they should have used that on the back part as well.

  • The click wheel does not work with gloves on. Nice in the winter, freeze your hands off when you want to adjust the volume or want to listen to something different.
  • Itunes doesn’t use replay gain, but has it’s own format and tags for loudness normalisation.
  • Itunes has its own ID3 tags to store certain parameters. So I had to do a lot of re tagging.
I still have to buy a dock for it, I’m sure it will be very useful. But I’m a bit disappointed that you can’t select a cable with it. I don’t want to disassemble the dock every time I want to take my ipod to college to transfer pictures. You’ll have to buy it separately for 15 euros, thats almost half the price of the dock and remote. A bit much for a little cable. I bet the cable is also designed in California.
I’m very happy with my new ipod, but I do think apple dropped the ball on a few features that foobar2000 for instance, does have. They are also a bit cocky by wanting users to use just one (their) application instead of multiple (the synchronising issue and mandatory use of itunes). But I think that is the apple and power users thing again. Or they might be trying to sell more than one device.
Maybe I’ll consider buying a macbook somewhere in the future, if they are just as sturdy as the ipod. Maybe they are, with the new one’s cover made out of one piece of aluminum. I just hate it when plastic creaks with protest when I pick up a laptop. I will certainly have to get used to it after working on PCs with windows and linux on them for many years. But working on them at college certainly helps. The educational discounts are also very attractive.
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