It’s always hard resisting the urge to whip out my wallet whenever Apple announce another slinky new product, but this month’s iPod launch defeated me. The downside: I can’t afford to eat for the next two weeks. The upside: I have a brand spanking new 80GB iPod to play with. As long as I don’t end up gnawing on the screen with starvation, I’m happy with that.
The 80GB hard drive is one of the biggest selling points, particularly given Apple’s simultaneous launch – in the US at least – of downloadable movies. I’d already run out of space on my battered old 30GB iPod, and that just held tunes, so Apple’s done a sensible thing upping the storage space at the top end of its new range.
So what else is new? The two main features on the device itself are the beefed-up battery life and the brighter screen, which you think would cancel each other out. So far, the battery improvement has been noticeable, although those of you upgrading from more recent iPods might be less impressed.
Listening to music alone, there’s no danger of running out of juice even during a long day of travelling. Obviously, I wish they’d put a battery in that I can easily change myself, but in the absence of that, I’ll take the promised 20 hours thanks.
The brighter screen is a real boon too, especially if you’re planning to make heavy use of the iPod’s video and photo-viewing capabilities. Apparently it’s 60% brighter than the previous generation’s display, which I’d go along with. However, it’s tempting to turn down the brightness a notch or two in the interest of preserving battery life.
The problem for someone in the UK is that you can’t make full use of the new iPod’s capabilities yet. By which I mean downloading films, which Apple says will launch here sometime in 2007. All we can do for the moment is download music videos – and OK Go’s ‘Here We Go Again’ is just as ace on the small screen as on YouTube – and a collection of Pixar short films, including the very-funny For The Birds.
Finally, among the new iPod’s capabilities is gaming, with nine downloadable titles including Tetris, Pac-Man and Zuma. It’s early days, but it seems playing games on an iPod will only be as good as the individual title you play – and particularly how well (or not) it takes advantage of the iPod’s scroll-wheel. So, roll on the movies, but in the meantime, the iPod shows no sign of losing its crown as top dog in the MP3 world.