Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Apple iPod classic
- Touch wheel is very intuitive, menu additions are great, larger capacities
- Still reliant on iTunes, sound quality could use a little work
The iPod classic is relatively plain compared to the nano and touch, and so it may struggle to find a position in the market. However, the massive storage capacity should be enough to attract anyone who has found that the touch's flash memory just isn't enough.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Few products of the digital revolution are better known than Apple's iPod. In amongst the furore created by the iPhone and the soon to be released iPod touch, it is easy to forget that this incredibly powerful brand has its roots in a relatively plain, hard disk-based media player; and that is exactly the trend the iPod classic continues. It may not have the touch screen functionality of the iPod touch, or the slim, miniaturised design of the new nano, but the classic does what the iPod has always done best; offer a mass of storage and a wide variety of options and features.
For the most part the classic is a re-release of the 5th generation iPod video; however, there are a few new things to speak of. Most notably is the jump in storage capacity, with the classic coming in 80GB and 160GB capacities (last generation came in 30GB and 80GB). This is an absolute mass of storage, and ensures even avid video fans can carry around a small library in their pockets.
Despite the jump in storage, the unit is basically the same size as before. It is slightly heavier, but a little less thick than its predecessor, so it will still slip comfortably into the pocket. The glossy face plate has also been omitted in favour of an anodised cover, which now comes in black or silver.
The other noteworthy change is the new "Cover Flow" menu option. This displays your album art in a jukebox-like fashion, giving your navigation a more visual touch. The menu has also been turned into a split screen, with one half dedicated to the interface itself and the other half used to display a preview of the photo, video or album you currently have selected.
Audio quality has always been a bit of a sore point for the iPod series, and while the classic doesn't sound terrible by any means, there are better sounding digital music players on the market. Audio is a little flat and some detail is lost, although there are a great number of equalisation options which do help remedy this to some degree. Audiophiles should note that there are several companies who do iPod modifications, bypassing certain components to greatly increase sound quality, and this is definitely a viable alternative.
The renowned touch wheel control system makes a welcome return and it is as accurate as ever. However, also along for the ride is the expected reliance on Apple's iTunes software, which has been one of the iPod's weak points. iTunes isn't a terrible piece of software and it is certainly better than things like SonicStage, we would have preferred it to be a simple drag and drop process.
All the usual file formats are supported including AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF. For the video users, you can play back M4V, MP4 and MOV files.
The 2.5in display doesn't seem to have much of a work over, but that isn't really an issue as it was a good quality display. We still think it is a little too small for regular video watching, but hopefully the iPod touch will fill this gap nicely, and the classic's screen still does the job for the occasional TV episode or video clip.
Battery life is quoted at 40 hours for music and seven hours for video, however as usual, this is under specific conditions and in reality you can expect it to be significantly lower.
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