Apple iPod 60GB Review
July 20, 2005
The Apple iPod 60GB has been out for awhile — first as the iPod Photo 60GB in two different packagings, and finally as the plain old iPod 60GB, when Apple removed the monochrome iPods from the lineup a month or so ago.
So why review one now? Simple — when Apple reduced the price on the 60, I finally retired (well, resold) my old 30G 3rd Generation iPod and replaced it with a 60GB.
Now that I’ve had a month or so of using it under my belt, I’ve had a chance to form some impressions. Not surprisingly, this is more a “compare and contrast” exercise with the 3G iPod with the 4G color iPod than anything.
My first reaction – I love this thing! It is so much better than the old 3rd generation, I’m still kicking myself for waiting this long.
The four main differences (other than storage size) between this and the 3G iPods are the clickwheel, the color display, the battery life, and the photo features.
I was kind of leary of the clickwheel — conceptually, it seemed rather clumsy compared to the touch-sensitive buttons on the 3G.
After a little time with the unit, I have to say that the opposite is true — it was continually a source of frustration for me that there was no tactile feedback on the touch-sensitive buttons. Click hold, and then click play, and nothing happens — did the click not take? Or is it just taking a few seconds to wind up the disk drive? With the 4G, you have a nice reassuring click every time you press the button.
As a mechanical switch, it may not have the life that a touch-sensitive switch would, but it seems to me that problems in that regard are liable to be so far down the line as to be more “end of life” issues than anything.
I hadn’t cared about a color display on my iPod — I don’t take enough pictures these days to have much interest in displaying them on my iPod (I could always use my Treo with a bigger display anyway), and I didn’t really care about whether I displayed album art or not. So the display was a “who cares” item.
Wrong again. Much like it was when I changed from an old monochrome PDA to a color unit, the biggest difference for me wasn’t the color, it was the brighter backlight and increased readability. As I’m in my 40-something doddering middle-age, it’s a whole lot easier for me to see the display on the 60 than it was on my old 3G unit, and I’m quite happy with that.
Looks-wise, it’s miles ahead of the monochrome, picking up a few OS X / Aqua interface elements to make me feel at home and liven up the picture.
Last but not least, a surprise — one of my continual frustrations with my 3G was a constant whine on the headphone jack when the backlight was on. This was particularly noticable in the car, jacked into an FM Modulator. There isn’t even a trace of such noise in the 60.
I am seriously impressed with the battery life on this unit — since the quoted battery life was probably more of a joke on the 3G than any other model, I pretty much blew off the specs that claimed 12+ hours of life on the 4G.
Wrong again — this thing has wonderful battery life. Since I had scattered chargers around most everywhere I was likely to use my 3G, and got in the habit of always plugging it in when possible, I can honestly say I’ve not managed to run down the battery in the 60 yet. The closest I came was a week or two ago when I’d had it in its stash in the car that morning playing, didn’t plug in the car charger, and forgot about it when I got back home. That evening I got in the car and turned the key, and was quite surprised that it was still playing along, and even had another couple hours of battery life to go.
As I said earlier, I really don’t have any use for showing photos on the iPod. I played with it enough to know that it works, and that’s about it. It’s there if you need it.
Finally, we come to the reason I bought it — storage. I was down to a couple of hundred megabytes free on my 3G, and while I occasionally pruned it down some, I was tired of doing so, and I figured it was time to increase storage. 60 gigs is a lot of room to play in — it’s still not enough to fit my entire library, but I can now comfortably fit quite a bit of extra stuff on it, without feeling squeezed for room.
The only problem I’ve really had is that it seems more prone to locking up after you pause it and let it go to sleep — such that you have to reboot it (hold-unhold, hold menu and select until Apple appears) to get it’s attention.
This is something that every iPod I’ve ever seen does, but it seems to me that the 60 does it more than my old 3G. It’s not a big deal, and really only frustrating when you’re listening to spoken word material, and want to hold a bookmark — it tends to lose the bookmark you paused it at when you reboot it.
I stopped at an Apple store a couple weeks ago to talk to the Genius Bar guys about this, but I couldn’t replicate it there. Oh well, no big deal.
Outside of waiting for the price to drop (and it’s came down a bunch since its introduction as the iPod Photo 60GB), I’m really rather kicking myself for waiting. I’m very, very pleased with the 4th generation 60GB.