6months with my iPod

Friday 18th November, 2005
Well, it's over 6months now since I got my iPod and what a dramatic change it's made to my listening habits. This is one of those rare articles that's going to fall into the "love" and "hate" categories of my blog.

Before iPod I had a nice hi-fi system in my living room and a cd-system in my car. That was about it when it came to playing the literally hundreds of CD albums I owned. I very rarely purchased singles any more, just albums and then not so often. And so it came about that I was given an iPod mini for my birthday.

I hadn't owned a portable music player for years, the last one being a Sony Mini-Disc that IBM gave me as a reward for Technical Excellence back in 1999! This was small, but not so convenient as it wasn't easy to get music from my source CDs to the MD.

So the iPod Mini is small, long battery life and doesn't skip due to solid state RAM. Ripping a CD via iTunes is easy and so is purchasing music online. I've actually found myself buying the off music track online, but no albums...the download quality is way short of CD.

Initially I started ripping a few CDs into iTunes and then realised the convenience. Playing music on my PC in the bedroom was LOTS more convenient than my traditional hi-fi...although not remote controlled. So along came my whole house Sonos deployment. A few extra speakers around the house and a couple of weekend ripping CD's and now I can play any track from any album in any room at any time, all controlled from a wireless remote.

I now have about 10,000 tracks available to my mini iPod, occupying around 60GB in standard MP3 quality. My library will be more like 300GB as I'm using a lossless codec for storage which is much larger than lossy compressed MP3. This is obviously much larger than my iPod capacity but allows plenty of variety in one synchronization with iTunes.

My music world has changed and for the better, but I have a few niggles.

This week I caught the Eurostar from London to Brussels for the first time. Not the most wonderful experience, give me a plane any day, but it gave me the opportunity to use the iPod for it's original design. Normally it's just hooked up to my car stereo. This gave me the opportunity to use it like a "normal" user, it's easy to criticise it when it's in the car cradle whilst driving but this would be unfair as it's designed to be handheld. So, my issues:
  • The iPod is supplied with nice, matching, white/grey in-ear headphones. I won't go into the quality of these as it's so subjective but what surprised me was the supplied sponge covers. Not only are they black, which doesn't match anything and just looks silly, but they also cover the "L" and "R" markings on the earphones. For a pedantic like me who likes to ensure they're inserted the right way, this is a PITA.
  • The whole UI is far too simple. It's easy to use, but there's nothing logical about it. It seems to revolve around playlists which have to be built in iTunes and can't be edited within the iPod itself.
  • The controller is way too sensitive and going just one click is very difficult. I thought this was just a difficulty whilst driving, I was wrong.
  • The headphone connector is very poor quality and crackles when rotated in the socket.
  • The rating system is almost unusable. Everytime you want to rate a track it requires 3 button pushes, then careful negotiation with the rotary controller to select the correct number of stars. After this, the system automatically goes back to the track time display and i have to push the button 3 times more to rate the next track.
  • Dynamic playlist and iPod synchronisation is questionable. I have a dynamic playlist based on the track rating, the playlist then synchronises with the iPod. In the wrong order though. If i have a playlist that contains tracks with 5 star rating, and then I downgrade a track to 4 stars, it takes 2 iPod updates to get it out of the iPod; the first updates the rating in my library and consequently the playlist, the second then updates the playlist. Rubbish.
  • Automatic volume levelling - supposed to make tracks come out at similar volumes...does it?
  • There's no in-line remote like on my Mini Disc, this was a nice feature.

Comments/Trackbacks [1]