Album art is pervasive, appearing in thumbnail form in subsidiary menus, such as the Albums listing. Here, each entry is presented with the thumbnail, the album's title in bold above the artist's name in plain grey text. Likewise, other listings are presented with this kind of subsidiary information. Select Genre, and each entry has the number of relevant artists and albums presented below it. Only the Composers and Artists menus don't follow the pattern. Why not? We can't think of a good reason.
Apple's iPod Classic UI: now with iTunes' Cover Flow and reflection effects
Since Apple introduced accelerated scrolling in the 5G iPod, all these extra lines of information don't slow you down if you have to dash to the end of the list to find the track, album or artist you want. Once again, scrolling quickly pops up the initial letter of the album, artist or song the cursor's passing over, making it easy to find, say, albums beginning with S and then slow down to narrow the search to Springsteen.
And there's a Search entry that pops up a text-entry field and, to the right of it, the alphabet. Select the letter you want using the clickwheel, then press the centre button to 'type' it into the field. As you type, the iPod searches, narrowing down the list of results as you enter more characters. The Rewind button works like a backspace key.
Album art really comes into its own in the Music menu's Cover Flow option. The fact it is optional tells you immediately it's not ready for primetime. Yes, you get the same 3D cover-by-cover album display that was first introduced by iTunes, though Apple did itself a disservice by setting it here against a white background, which shows up the jagged edges that might have been obscured by a black background.
Apple's iPod Classic UI: photo slideshows and a revamped calendar
Selecting a cover brings up its track listing just as it does on the iPhone - select a specific song or press Play to hear them all. Pressing Menu takes you back to the Cover Flow screen. The screen certainly populates quickly enough, but moving along the line doesn't feel as smooth as it does in iTunes. Maybe it'll look a lot better on the bigger, 3.5in screen of the iPod Touch, but here Cover Flow feels crammed in.
Part of the problem is the Classic's processor isn't quite up to it - there are a fair few brief but noticeable pauses, not only when we were using Cover Flow but also when transitioning between other menus and sub-menus too. We've experienced this before with the first-generation Nano, for example, but that's two years old and we'd have hoped Apple might have beefed up the iPod's specs to a point where it can handle the demands of the UI. Our time with the Classic suggests it hasn't.
"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...