I got my iPod today, and figured I would give it a bit of a write up for those of you who may be interested. While I am not as “beamingly excited” about this device as I was about the SliMP3, but it is a damn fine piece of kit.
I got it around 2pm at work today, and hit a wall in the test case I was working on, so I decided to drop it and open everything up… First thing I did was find the charger and plug the thing in. I was amused that printed on the static plastic scratchguard covering the LCD were the words “Don’t Steal Music” in 4 languages… The charger is quite nice, it has a firewire port on it which only has the power pins connected, and the actual 2-prong outlet connector is removable, so you could presumably replace it with a foreign module… But that’s probably something I will never use..
While it was charging I decided to install the firewire card I bought for my home machine in my work machine so I could play… :) This was the most painless installation I have ever had, just popped the card in and XP knew what to do… It didn’t even prompt me for drivers… I wish computers could always be like this.. Anyway, once the card was installed I disconnected the iPod from the charger and hooked it up to the card (since it will charge off the firewire port).
The unit comes with MusicMatch Jukebox but I decided early on that I had no interest in this software… I decided to use the free EphPod project instead since it seemed to be more what I was looking for (a simple way to copy music to the iPod). After a lengthy download (not large, just slow) I installed it and fired it up… It did some initialization of the iPod and it was ready to go… I picked a few folders of MP3’s and copied them over in no time flat. Firewire is the way to go when dealing with this kind of data, my Archos Jukebox had USB1 which made transferring music to it very painful. By the end of the day I had filled up the unit and never really noticed the copying time.. The largest chunk of data I copied was 6GB and it took less than 30 minutes (I have no idea how long it took).
EphPod seems like good software, but it is a bit shaky still… I had it give me a few application errors (which it seemed to recover from) now and again but it did the job. It was supposed to let me use my Audible audiobooks but that didn’t work… The people on the mailing list says that better Audible support is to come, so I will be waiting for that big time… I was disappointed that it didn’t work right away though… (The official iPod software only supports Audible on OSX… I think our Mac dev box at work has 10.1 on it, so I might use that instead to copy over the audiobooks)
The ui of the unit itself is nearly flawless… The rotary touchpanel is something you simply have to play with to fully understand… The difference between the iPod and the Archos is night and day.. The Archos made a good MP3 player, but the iPod is clearly an evolution beyond… It is more than easy to use, it is blindly intuitive… There are a few things I miss from the Archos though… Queue mode, where you can select what the next song after the current one is on the fly, seems to be missing… I would have thought I would have been able to build a playlist on the fly with something as nice as the iPod, but if you can I can’t figure it out.. There also needs to be a quick one-button way to get back to the “now playing” screen once you leave it. But those are all minor quibbles, and they will hopefully be addressed in future firmware updates (or someong giving me a clue).
The sound quality of the iPod is certainly better than the Archos (not that the Archos is particularly bad). The iPod gets louder, if you have a loud MP3 it is simply uncomfortable at full volume. The range is good because some MP3’s were simply too quiet on the Archos. The equalizer is much better on the iPod, even if it is just a bunch of presets (Rock, Jazz, etc.). While the Archos had a “freeform” EQ, it was a simple Bass/Treble one, and the upper ranges of either just overdrove the DAC, making things sound like shit.
That’s all I can think of right now, but feel free to ask questions… The unit is certainly the Rolls Royce of MP3 players, but it is worth the money in this reviewer’s opinion…