John Topley’s Weblog

Living With The iPod

I’ve now had my iPod for three months and am therefore able to offer some further thoughts on the pros and cons of iPod ownership. I’ve bought a couple of accessories, these being the Apple carrying case with belt clip and an iPod Dock.

The carrying case is no great shakes as you still have to slide the device in and out to operate the controls—I don’t have the remote control headphones—and to see the display. I’m sure there are better third-party alternatives around. I hate the idea of carrying cases; taking this beautiful piece of design and engineering and burying it in some ill-fitting tat. Ideally I’d like to protect my iPod with a force field, but I hear that Apple still have some way to go on that one.

The Dock is much more useful; it’s so much more convenient being able to drop the iPod in the Dock to synchronise and charge rather than having to fumble around with cables. I’m impressed by the build quality too. It has a sturdy metal base and generally feels a lot more solid than the other docking stations that I’ve used in the course of owning PDAs.

The packaging of the official accessories is just as particular as for the iPod itself and I couldn’t help noticing that the box sizes are all exact even multiples of each other i.e. the Dock box is half as wide as the iPod box and half as deep, and the carrying case box is half as deep as that etc. It’s all so pure, I love it!

I’m very pleased with the basic operation of the iPod i.e. the sound quality, ease of use and partnership with iTunes. My other observations are:

The Good

  • The Music Quiz that comes with the iPod is brilliant! You’re played a brief snippet from any part of any track and are presented with a multiple choice list of which song it’s from, and have to select the correct one. The song list shortens as time progresses and you get more points the earlier you select the correct answer. A very simple idea but good fun to play. I guess this game is the iPod equivalent of the sliding puzzle desk accessory that shipped with the original Macintosh.
  • You can create On-The-Go playlists by selecting songs and holding down the wheel button until the song title flashes. There’s more to it though because you can do the same for entire playlists, artists and albums. You can also save these ad hoc playlists.
  • The Click Wheel is an amazing hardware user interface. It’s possible to scroll through thousands of items really quickly without losing accuracy.
  • When a song’s playing, a Now Playing menu item is added at the bottom of the menu structure, which takes you to the song status screen. This menu structure follows Fitt’s Law because you can scroll down indiscriminately using the Click Wheel and be assured that you’ll hit the menu item you want.
  • You can drag iTunes searches to the desktop or to a folder.
  • I was downloading a purchased song when I lost my Internet connection. iTunes told me exactly what to do to re-commence my download (use the Check for Purchased Music item on the Advanced menu).

The Bad

  • The iPod doesn’t handle long titles very well. They’re truncated whilst browsing which means that I often have to edit them in iTunes to distinguish them. Using a slightly smaller font and wrapping the text over multiple lines could be a solution. Long titles are scrolled in the Now Playing screen and I find the legibility of the scrolling text to be poor.
  • I don’t use the Contacts or Notes features because they’re completely unprotected. It would be nice if you had to enter a PIN to access them.
  • The option for the Clicker beep is reset after going into a deep sleep.
  • The iPod seemingly takes an age to wake up after going into a deep sleep.
  • The owner-draw window buttons in iTunes breaks Fitt’s Law, unlike the native ones provided by Windows.

The Ugly

  • The beautiful shiny back casing seems to get scratched just by looking at it!

Wish List

  • I’d quite like a way to be able to mark stuff for deletion from the iPod whilst on the move, but I can understand why Apple don’t provide this feature. For one thing it would make synchronisation with iTunes less straightforward, as you’d have to manually reconcile tracks that existed on one but not the other.
  • I’d like a numeric indication of what the current volume level is, so that I’d know that (for example) my preference is to turn it all the way up to 11.


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My preference is to turn it all the way up to 11.


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