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5th Generation iPod: First Impressions

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I've only spent a few hours with my new 5th generation iPod so far, but I wanted to give you some more details about the device than were included in my first post about it.

First off, before you ask: I don't know how it looks when hooked into a TV. They didn't have any of the new peripherals (like the new Dock) available in the Apple Store and I didn't want to risk spending the extra loot on a 3rd party video adapter cable that I wasn't sure would work. I talked to one of the Apple Store employees who recommended that I order the Dock and cable online. I thought, Good idea, I better grab this iPod before they all sell out, and ran.

The screen is amazing. To continue my previous musings on the iPod vs. the PSP, while I think it really is like comparing Apples and oranges, I can at least say something comparatively about the video and the screens. The iPod's screen is not as large as the PSP's but the video quality when playing back iTMS-purchased video, like the Lost episode I watched on the commute home, is as good as watching a UMD movie on the PSP, and it is superior to all the videos I have converted to Memory Stick for my PSP. That extra hard drive space on the iPod really makes a difference in the quantity and quality of the video you can squeeze in there. There were no artifacts whatsoever, and no odd burps in the playback. The video is crisp and clear and I will be watching much more on this little wonder.

More after the jump...

Unlike with the nano, the connection via USB on the 5th generation iPod is fast. I mean, pretty blazingly fast. Every episode of Lost had moved successfully over to the iPod before I even thought to check on the progress. I thought, I wonder if its made it through more than 2 or 3 episodes yet?, and there was the whole thing. Evidently the slowdown of transferring the songs and images over to my nano was a bottleneck caused by the flash memory drive in the nano and not by the USB connection. This hard drive based iPod shoots through file transfers, so I'm not missing the Firewire that much.

However, there are some file transfer problems. One of the malformed videos in my iTunes Library stopped the transfer of everything listed behind it *twice* before I figured out what was happening. It gave an error about the file, and gave the option to find the file or cancel. Since the file was missing I hit Cancel, which evidently stopped the transfer (even the iPod kept acting like it was moving the files over for a little bit). I was also shocked to find that when there aren't any TV shows on your iPod, the TV shows menu doesn't show up. This makes sense, but it still freaked me out when I thought I had just transfered over a bunch of shows and there wasn't even a TV option.

Also, the little "case" that is included is actually pretty nice. Before getting mine, I thought, "That's just a piece of crap sleeve, not a real case!" However, after using it for a bit, it's nice. You can slide the screen out of the case and watch your shows. The sleeve is thin enough that you can still manage to control the iPod with ease while watching in this manner, and it keeps the iPod clean and polished. The cloth is soft on the inside and works well as a chamois cloth for cleaning off that beautiful little screen.

Speaking of the screen, lets get back to it for a second. I watched an entire episode of Lost, holding the iPod in my lap while on the train and I could see everything clearly with no squinting necessary. There's no need to hold the screen right up to your eyes, as some people have claimed would be the case. Then, after I arrived home, I propped up the iPod in the kitchen as I cooked dinner. I simply turned the audio up all the way and dropped the earphones in a little cup (nice acoustics trick there for a lo-fi amplifier) and could hear everything nicely as I cooked up my steak for dinner.

Overall, this is a great iPod. Get one. Get one now. I'm actually revising my last month's proclamation of the iPod nano as the best iPod ever. The 5th generation is the best iPod ever now. I'm selling my 4G and my nano. I'll have another more detailed review after I've run this thing through the full gamut this week.

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