With no media card slots and only a low resolution LCD display, what is the point of the iPod Photo?
Official Apple iPod Photo press release
UPDATE: Your feedback
UPDATE: Photo viewer limitations confirmed
It looks like Apple is cashing in on the digital camera boom with a new 'Photo' version of its popular iPod personal digital music storage/player. But the new iPod doesn't feature a camera or memory card slots and its new colour screen is low-spec by digital camera standards. So how does the word 'Photo' figure in this latest iPod incarnation?
The iPod Photo differs fundamentally from other iPods in featuring a colour LCD screen. Itís a reasonably-sized two inch panel, but only has 220x176 pixels (38,720 pixels in all) to offer. Put into perspective, all decent contemporary compact digital cameras have LCD monitor screens of a significantly higher resolution. Kodak's latest entry-level DX-series cameras have screens with 150K pixels, nearly four times as many as the iPod Photo's screen.
With such a deficit in screen resolution it makes you wonder how Apple can describe the iPod Photo's screen as 'razor sharp'. On a positive note, the iPod Photo's screen is 'transflective', meaning it's designed to be legible in bright sunlight as well as while back-lit in the shade. A cable is provided so you can show your photos on a TV.
No card slots
Without any memory card slots, you can't copy your camera images directly to your iPod Photo, so it won't work for a photographer like, for example, a Vosonic IC Drive
will. That said, an IC Drive's music player abilities are no match at all for an iPod, or any other half-decent dedicated digital music player for that matter.
A Belkin media card reader is available for iPods, but itís bigger than an iPod itself and costs an amazing £72 in the UK (marginally better value in the US at around $110). Ordinary USB card readers typically cost less than £20.
Version 4.7 of the Apple iTunes software package can manage the copying of images as well as music tracks to your iPod. It's been reported that iPod Photos downsample images in the process, suggesting that the iPod photo isn't for storing full resolution originals anyway. But there is nothing stopping you from storing full-resolution images on an iPod Photo simply by treating it as your PC or Mac portable external hard drive.
UPDATE: Even if you did copy your image files to the iPod Photo's hard drive, you won't be able to view them on its colour screen. Uploading via iTunes 4.7 is the only way to make your photos visible on the screen.
Battery ups and downs
The iPod Photo benefits from a beefed-up lithium ion rechargeable battery and Apple claims it will now run for up to 15 hours on a single charge if you're just listening to music. This compares to 12 hours with a standard iPod. You can expect up to five hours worth of photo viewing per charge. The bad news is that if the battery fails, a common occurrence with early iPods, you still have to send the whole iPod back to be fixed Ė there is still no sign of a user-replaceable battery option.
It was only a matter of time before an iPod with a colour screen appeared and here it is. But camera-toting iPod fans may feel Apple missed an opportunity with the iPod Photo. Its 'Photo' tag is largely incidental for keen photographers, but undoubtedly a key marketing asset serving to help sustain the iPod phenomenon.
Available exclusively through the online Apple Store to start with, 40Gb and 60GB iPod Photo models are priced $499 (approx £280) and $599 (£336), respectively. A 40GB iPod Photo costs $100 more than an audio-only 40GB iPod.
UPDATE: Christopher Breen, an iPod afficionado at Playlist has reported his initial hands-on impressions of the iPod Photo and appears to confirm our reservations about its limitations from a photo-perspective.
What do you think?
Will you be buying an iPod Photo? Be the answer yes or no Ė let us know why and we could publish your views
Here is what you thought
ōystein LÝland, from Norway, says:
Definitely not. Whatís the point? If you have to add yet another really expensive card reader and also the screen rez is just not good enough. Iíll wait for the Epson P-2000, that thing has a razor sharp screen.
Paul Stakely, says:
I'll probably get one as my original version 1 iPod was stolen last week, but I do agree that Apple missed a big opportunity for us photographers.
H. Aston, says:
I will not be buying one. I never saw the attraction of the iPod in the first place. Too expensive. You are paying for the name.
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