Video iPod

I know, Steve doesn’t want us to call it that, and there will undoubtedly be a “real” video iPod by summer 2006, but in the meantime let’s just call it what it is, OK?

My last iPod 2nd generation, the kind with the row of buttons just underneath the black and white screen. It holds 20 gigs of music and cost $400 new.

This shiny new video iPod has a big, bright, screen, is noticeably thinner than the old one, holds 30 gigs, and it can display color photos and play videos. It cost $100 less than the old one. It’s beautiful. It looks like something out of the movie _2001 A Space Odyssey_.

So where does one get videos to put on it? I already have a few music videos, commercials, and comedy bits downloaded off the internets over the past few years. And I just bought a handful of music videos off the iTunes Music Store while waiting for the iPod to arrive. But I quickly discovered that not all videos would play on (or even transfer to) the iPod. A few different video converter programs have surfaced lately, and I’ve been having good luck with one called MoviesForMyPod which has converted just about every QuickTime movie I’ve given it. Some things have been tougher (Windows Media file, Flash movies), but I’ll figure a way to convert those too.

Today I discovered that videos converted for the PSP seem to work fine on the iPod! So I dragged over a few items I’d converted for the PSP, including the first episode of _Invader Zim_, ripped from the DVD last spring. A couple days ago I used the free HandBrake program to rip _The Matrix_ to iPod format; it took a few tries to get results I was happy with, but it did a fine job (taking about 2 hours to convert a 2 hour movie).

With all the reports that screen scratches easily, I’ve handled this like an egg. I’ve used the (included) pouch the few times I’ve been with it. I tried the tip of stretching plastic wrap over it to protect it, but removed it shortly afterwards (it looked pretty stupid). Because I’ve been so careful the front is still pristine and scratch-free. I’m thinking the new iPods are no more fragile than the old ones, but with so many more people buying them these days there’s an expectation that something you pay so much money for shouldn’t scratch so easily, and I can certainly agree with that. Hopefully the industrial design wizards at Apple will find a material that’s tough and scratch resistant. The screen of my cell phone hasn’t scratched yet, and I’m not particularly careful with it.

As a first-generation video product, I think the iPod with video is a winner. The screen isn’t nearly as big as the one on the PSP, but the iPod can hold far more video. The form factor is comfortable in the hand and not a strain on the eye, at least for viewing an hour or less at a time. A true video iPod would have a bigger screen (why not the entire front?), and a bigger battery, and an easy way to get video content onto it, but this iPod is a huge first step towards that goal.