Apple iPod Classic
In a metal mood
Review The iPod Classic marks the most widespread update Apple has ever made to the 'standard' hard drive-based iPod range. The name's been tweaked, the user interface given a radical overhaul, and while the new model may look like the previous version, it's actually quite different.
Apple's iPod Classic: black metal
The iPod Classic has a metal face, not a plastic one. The shiny, curved chrome-like backplate is still there, but now it's attached to an anodised aluminium sheet that curves gently forward before forming a flat space in which the display and clickwheel are mounted.
The casing - its the same material used in last year's iPod Nano update - is tactile and has a satin sheen quite unlike the patent gloss of old. That's good for the black Classic, which is now far more resistant to fingerprints than its predecessor was and probably more resistant to scratches, though only time will tell for sure. The back of the player however, is just as susceptible to scrapes and scratches as it always was, as we discovered when we were a little reckless in docking the device.
What was once the white model is now one Apple calls 'silver' - but in reality it's more of a kind of dull, pale grey. It's not as metallic looking as last year's Nanos and Shuffles, and it's hard to see consumers falling for it. We'd hazard a guess that the black model will sell significantly better this coming Christmas.
The metal front makes for an iPod that feels less like two halves fitted together and more like a single, solid unit. The screen and the clickwheel are slotted into holes cut in the face, and while the clickwheel has an almost perfect fit, there's a tiny groove running around the perimeter of the screen. While it's barely noticeable in the hand, it won't be long before it picks up dust and pocket fluff.
As before the bottom of the player is home to the dock connector, with the earphone socket and 'hold' switch up on top. All three are surrounded by a thin lip of colour-coded plastic to match the hue of the faceplate.
Apple's iPod Classic: top and bottom
The new model is much the same size as its predecessor - it's actually fractionally thinner, but not so as you'd notice. Similarly, it's very slightly heavier, but again you won't be able to tell when you're carrying this player around.
"Incidentally the new nano coped much better with this."
Which is rather strange; I'm sure the people that do such things pulled them both apart and found the same (Samsung) CPU in the two machines. Oh well.
Wait for version 2!
The processor in this is terribly slow and really can't cope with the interface.
It chugs through menus, and coverflow feels like scrolling through molasses.
If you should dare and try to scroll through with coverflow with a song playing (I'm always searching for the next song to play) it will start to Porky Pig through the song you're listening to: pppeeerrggger-dddddeeerggggerrrr
Incidentally the new nano coped much better with this.
I'm looking to replace my ageing 4G 20Gb, but the new nano while splendid is too small (storage-wise), and I would not pay money for the Classic in this state.
What do I do now? When's the next refresh due?
@ Scott re compression
Few people own sound equipment advanced enough to to be able to project the difference between AAC @ 192 and CD audio - even fewer have the ear to tell the difference if they did have the equipment. My point wast that the real weak point in digal audio reproduction is the DAC, not the data loss in the compression format. Without a high end DAC, the extra fidelity of CD quality audio is wasted. In fact what people often think they are hearing as imperfections in the compression format of tunes on their iPods, is actually the result of the DACs interpretation of the uncompressed binary stream. So carrying around lossless tunes on an iPod is just plain silly.
I do agree that good headphones are a worthwhile investment though - although I'm not sure that picking ear wax out of Etymotics is everyone's cup of tea!
Actually on a related rant - another real kick in the arse sound wise is the recent practice of boosting the volume on tracks and using compression to clip the waveform, in order to have louder recording then the next guy (aka the loudness wars). CDs are getting hotter and hotter and the sound quality is plummeting. I can see a market emerging for the old CD re-releases from the 80's / early 90's with no crazy wave compression.
I also just upgraded from a 3rd Gen 20GB. Really like being able to play the odd video (although I don't like the way I can't categorise tv show/movie/music video myself), also the 160GB storage is ace.
There are more UI inconsistencies than the review noted. I love the 24-hour clock, and also have the time set to be in the menu bar.
So I start some music, put the ipod out on my desk at work in front of me and this bloody clock comes up! Oh great. It shows me that it's playing something, the battery charge and the 12-hour clock. Even though everything else on the iPod is set to 24-hour, this is 12-hour... great. The worst part is that I don't want to see the time by looking at it (or if I do, it's in the menu bar) - I want to see WHAT'S PLAYING! but noooooo there's a screensaver now. That's great. Can't turn it off either... =(
Nice but ill be even better when v1.1 software is released...
I've just upgraded from a 20GB 3rd gen to a black 160GB classic, noticeably nicer UI and certainly got lots more room. Am using Sennheiser CX-300 headphones (black to match) and am really enjoying it.
My only complaints are more to do with the way that apple seem to do digital upgrades to their product lines without notice. I very nearly got stuck with an 80GB 5G which I'd bought in advance of my birthday but managed to take it back and get a classic from the apple store. (Also a slight issue with an email telling me that they'd dropped the price of my headphones by £20 received the day that mine arrived - nice apple refunded the difference though). Doesn't exactly encourage early adopters...