Oct 30, 2004

Playing with toys: impressions of the iPod Photo.

This morning, while going to the bank to pick up some laundry quarters, I stopped by the Apple Store, since I wanted to see if the new iPod Photos had arrived so I could put my greasy paws on them. I checked the relatively sparse racks for them (the mini-stores just have computers and iPods), and didn't see it.

Fortunately, the sales associate, concealing his disgust that I was obviously one of those cheap pricks that play with the tech toys but have no intention of buying them, stopped over. I asked him when the iPod Photo was coming in.

"Oh, we have them. Right here."

And there it was. It was so new that there was no identifying price sticker next to it, so that's what threw me off.

Anyway, impressions.

Well, it's pretty much a white iPod with its screen in color. It is a nice screen; when displaying photos it shows twenty-five in thumbnail view, which is impressive. When playing tracks, it will display album art if it is included (apparently you can download that crap from the Apple Store).

The slideshow feature was a pretty big selling point; the fact that you could hook it up to your TV and stereo and play it, I'd imagine, would make it attractive to DJs. Unfortunately, you can't have an iTunes Visualizer play on it, which would make it an instant rave tool, so I would not be surprised if there was an iPod software update down the road which would allow that.

FWIW, the games on it were color versions of Brick and Parachute plus Music Quiz (?) and Solitare. I played a little solitare, which was functional. Since I don't have an iPod the scroll-less wheel feels a bit weird to me.

Another drawback IMO is the inability to download directly from a digital camera w/out one of two Belkin adapters ($79 or $99). I guess you couldn't jam a USB2 port in the existing form factor, but I thought maybe w/the Dock you could.

Overall? Well, as I said, I'm a cheap prick, so I'm wouldn't have shelled out $499/$599 for an iPod even if it could make fettucine alfredo and perform emergency colonoscopies. Still, I can't help but feel that this is something ultimately more cool than earth-shattering in terms of features.

Then again, Steve Jobs is a billionaire who rescued Apple from the verge of bankruptcy in 1997, and I'm...not.