Technology

Reflections On The Video iPod

I recently bought the new video iPod from Apple. After using it out in the real world for a week I wanted to report in on my likes and dislikes.

When I received it and connected it to my G5 I was reminded of the sad fact that Apple is no longer supporting connecting the iPod via Fire Wire. So after connecting the USB cable the synchronization of my 2,600+, songs, photos, and the few music videos and movies that I had in my collection. One of the movies I had was a Pixar short called “For The Birds”. I had received this movie as a gift from Brian using the new gifting functionality in iTunes. The sync worked great and after about a half hour of transferring data I was ready.

Other than the disappointment about the Fire Wire connection I was upset that Apple moved the location of the jack for the earphones. My older 3rd generation iPod Photo had the jack in the middle as did my first generation iPod. I have a really nice fake leather case, which flips open and provides easy access to the iPod. But since the jack hole (I could put a joke in here but this is a family blog) is now on the right side if the top of the unit my case is less usable but I have managed to retrofit the case somewhat.

For those of you who don’t know I work in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. It takes me about an hour each way to get to and from work. So this time provides me a lot of opportunities to use my iPod. For my first few days of using the iPod I subscribed to a few video podcasts to use with my new video iPod. In particular I was excited about watching Democracy Now, Human Dog Laboratory, and Insane Films. Human Dog and Insane Films work well as they both use MPEG4 encoding. However I have had some problems with Democracy Now. When watching certain episodes you can hear a loud hissing sound, which happens every few seconds and I have had problems with the video freezing up and having to reset the unit.

After playing with videos produced by others I wanted to try putting my own videos on the IPod. According to the tech specs on the apple site the unit supports H.264 encoding at a bitrate of 768 kbps. So one night I recorded a 7 second video of me saying “Hello”. I encoded the video using QuickTime Pro using H.264 at the requisite specs. When trying to sync the IPod I kept getting a message saying that the video could not be played on the iPod. As a result the video did not get transferred. No matter what I tried I could not get the H.264 video to work on the iPod. But I was able to get MPEG4 encoded video to work without any problems. I do think its funny that Apple was saying that people should get ahead of the curve and start using the H.264 codec but of course that (apparently) does not work. Sigh!

Overall I am really liking the video iPod. The picture quality is fantastic and the sound quality is fabulous as usual. So far the only major problem I have had with it was that I almost missed my stop on the subway one morning because I was engrossed in a video.

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