Apple's long awaited foray into digital video players
It's finally here and some thought it would never happen. Could there have been any doubt? An iPod that does video has finally been released and it's about time, a logical step in the evolution of this remarkable little device. Fans of Apple's digital media device call it the G5, for fifth generation of the Apple's iPod. So, what makes this generation of Apple's media player so special? Let's take a look under the hood.
The first thing you'll notice about this new iPod before you even power it up is the size of the LCD screen. Traditionally a 2 inch screen, it's been upped to 2.5 inches. Another less obvious feature when getting your first look is that the scroll wheel on generation 5 is a little smaller. G4 measured in at about 41.67mm in diameter and the G5 is 38.10mm. Rumor has it the smaller size might be because the click wheel is now made in-house by Apple's own manufacture. The slightly smaller scroll wheel made by Apple's in-house facilities were first seen on the iPod Nano, so this is likely a carry over from this design.
Hefting the iPod Video in your hands and comparing it to the G4 you'll notice the iPod video is thinner than the G4, 39% thinner. Another change many will be happy with is in the LCD screen itself. The new screens are covered with a hard, clear resin coating instead of the traditional plastic covers of iPod's past. This should help with complaints of the screen being scratched too easily.
Obviously the biggest leap for the new iPod is its ability to play back video. Video support for iPod is very flexible and if you have the latest version of Quick Time you can use a handy "export to iPod" option that makes conversion a simple one-click process. The formats and specifications Apple supports are as follows:
- H.24 Video: up to 768 Kbps at 320x240 pixel resolution and 30 fps.
- Baseline Profile: to Level 1.3 w/ AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps at 48 Khz stereo audio in .m4v and mp3 and .mov file formats
- MPEG-4 Video: to 2.5 mbps at 480x480 pixel resolution and 30 fps
So it's a simple matter to find applications to convert most video to Mpeg4 anyway. As widespread as it is, it's an easy format for which to find material.
The iPod video comes in both a 30Gig and 60 Gig model. The battery life per fresh charge is promised by Apple as 14 hours of musical playback with the 30Gig model and 3 hours of slideshow with music. Pure video playback is promised at two hours. The 60Gig iPod Video will do up to 20 hours of music, 4 hours of slideshow with music and 3 hours of video.
While the iPod video has been a long time coming and a natural step in the next generation of the device, video playback on a 2.5 inch screen is going to work your squint muscles. It's got a surprisingly sharp picture but a 4:3 aspect ratio is the same as traditional TV. This means any widescreen programming will be cropped to fit into the tiny viewer. Firewire is not supported on the new iPod Video, a move that isn't going to make PC users very happy but shouldn't affect Apple users. The omission of firewire was probably required to meet the space limitations. Additional processing would have cost more valuable space inside this thin device.