Apple iPod 60GB review
IPod MP3 players dominate the market, but you can hardly accuse Apple of resting on its laurels.
Just five months ago, the full-size iPod was updated to include photo-display features. Shortly afterwards, the iPod nano usurped a still-youthful iPod mini and the iTunes phone finally appeared. Just in time for Christmas, the full-sized iPod has been updated again.
The most obvious change to this fifth-generation model is a larger screen and the introduction of video playback. The iTunes store has a selection of music videos and animated Pixar shorts, but the British range is smaller than the USA's and each download is more expensive. You can import your own videos to the supplied iTunes 6 software, but you'll be able to transfer them to the iPod only if they've been authored or converted by QuickTime Pro 7, which costs £20 including VAT. It seems odd that iTunes can manage the conversion of WMA files to Apple's AAC format, yet not perform the video equivalent.
The new iPod comes with a simple slip case, which should help prevent scratches. Apple no longer supplies an AC charger, though, and Mac owners will be disappointed that FireWire support has been dropped. This iPod is thinner than the outgoing model; the 30GB player is just 11mm deep. The 60GB iPod is 3mm deeper, but Apple says its battery will last for 20 hours of music playback rather than 14. It played our mixture of MP3 and AAC files continuously for just over 19 hours, which is excellent.
Battery life is much shorter during video playback. A single charge treated us to 17 showings of Michael Jackson's Thriller video, which took just under four grisly hours. The 320x240 pixel resolution of the iPod's display helps videos and photos look impressive. Watching a film on the 64mm screen would soon prove tiring, though, particularly if it were subtitled.
Apple's bud earphones sound weak with flat EQ settings, and we noticed distorted bass when using many of the presets. This was most noticeable on dance and hip-hop tracks with a prominent drumbeat and happened irrespective of listening volume. High-quality headphones produced better sound, but didn't solve the problem.
The new iPod has a fantastic design, and its announcement has doubtless caused a flurry of rewritten Christmas lists. However, we expect exceptional sound quality from a £300 MP3 player, and in this respect the iPod disappoints.