Apple iPod Photo – Our Review
The iPod has always been the model of simplicity a great music player with no extra pretensions. That’s why in April of last year, Apple president Steve Jobs avowed his company’s commitment to the iPod with the Clintonesque quip, Its about the music, stupid. But less than a year later, Apple released the iPod Photo, which turns the world’s most popular digital music player into a mobile photo album as well. That’s not just a major shift in focus for Apple; its a vast departure from the iPods core competency. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but there’s something to be said for sticking to what you’re good at.
The most noticeable difference between the latest iPod and its most recent predecessor is the new 200 x 176-pixel, 2-inch color screen. It’s a beautiful display, and the upgrade allows Apple to tweak the menus and fonts of the interface to good effect. We especially love the fact that the device displays album art when a track is playing, which harks us back to the days when physical albums actually existed.
The big news, of course, is the new iPods photo-viewing feature. Unfortunately, while it’s a nice idea, it’s clearly a work in progress. On the upside, its neat to be able to flip through photos when you’re on the road, like a digital version of snapshots in your wallet. And it’s easy to plug the included composite video and audio cable into a TV to show off your pictures on a big screen.
But oh, the downside: The only way to get photos from your computer to the iPod is through iTunes. This is weird, not only because you have to use music software to sync your photos, but also because you cant see photos that you load directly onto the iPod without the aid of iTunes.
However, you can load photos directly from your camera, but only through an add-on device sold at a premium price by¦ Belkin? Frankly, Apple should be shipping an interface that lets us just plug a camera into the iPod, and the iPod should let us see the photos immediately. The absence of such a simple solution leaves this pricey player incomplete and unsatisfying.
The iPod Photo is a good start down the road to a truly functional photo player, grafted to what is still a superb music machine. For now, we love the color screen even for music but were waiting for a fully baked revision of the photo capabilities. This formerly Mobile Choice winning player loses a star for its ill-executed addition and the $100 premium it commands. Mark McClusky
Best Feature: Color screen brightens up music playback
Worst Feature: Pointless dependence on iTunes for photo features
Apple iPod Photo
Weight: 6.4 ounces
Size: 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.8 inches
Specs: 40GB of storage; plays AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, Audible, MP3, and WAV files; USB 2.0 and FireWire interface; dock and video cable included; lithium-ion battery