I’ve had an iPod for just over a year now, so I thought I would make a few notes on it. I know the iPod is a beloved product, and the music player in some people’s minds, but it, like any other product (by Apple or otherwise) could use some improvements…
I have the 5th generation 30GB iPod with video. It was given to me by the lovely Dana. Before the iPod I was using a Rio 500, and an iRiver IPF-180T.
I had one annoying issue with syncing my iPod, but other than that, it’s been pretty much problem-free.
Now, in comparison, the Rio 500 still beats the iPod for bookmarking. The Rio has a button that will set a bookmark in any MP3 file. No so with the iPod. It does not support bookmarking of any audio file. This is annoying, especially as it was a feature I used daily, and had to give up on when I moved to the iPod.
The iPod does remember what is playing when you turn it off and continues from there (of course my cassette player did this in 1975 as well) but this fails when you plug your iPod into your computer! So if I’m half way through a podcast, and then want to charge or sync my iPod, it forgets where I was after ejecting, and I’m back at the home screen, and damned if I can remember what I was listening to. Sucks…
The iPod interface is simple, but I know at least one other person who has one that occasionally will not turn off, and has said “Couldn’t they just put a damn ON/OFF button on it?” Sometimes mine won’t turn off, so I just put it in my bag and hope it turns off automatically after a few minutes.
The iPod interface also requires you to look, or at least be able to feel around and guess where to push. Other players (with actual buttons) allow you to memorize where the buttons are and what they do. I could operate my Rio while driving and never take my eyes off the road. This seems to be a big concern with the iPhone as well, it will require visual attention to be able to use it.
The Rio kicks the iPod to the curb in regards to bookmarking, but that’s about it. As for the iRiver, the one I have is a cheap, low-end model, and the interface is horrible. The advantages it has is that it can record using a built-in microphone (I wish mine had an audio input though) and has an FM tuner. You can also combine these and record live from the radio. I guess it also plays WMA files, but I don’t have any of those. I mainly use it as a cheap, portable recording device, even though the quality is fairly poor in noisy situations. (I did use it to record myself snoring once.)
In summary, I do love the iPod, but it’s not the ultimate player. It could use some improvements. I’m not sure Apple will ever improve it to my satisfaction, but I thought it was worth critiquing.
(This post just talks about the iPod as an audio player. I plan to follow-up with it’s use as a video player as well.)