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Such a disappointment
on September 30, 2007
You can read on for a detailed review. In summary, if my music collection wasn't larger than the iPod this was replacing, I would put the iPod classic on the shelf (or maybe ebay it) and run the old one.
This iPod is the first apple iPod product I have felt was just an afterthought. I have owned the 1G shuffle, the 2G 4GB Nano, and a 4G 20GB iPod color (wife also has a 5G 30GB iPod Video). I absolutely loved all of them. All felt like polished products.
The iPod Classic feels like an afterthought that they came up with when they decided to make the iPod touch not a real iPod, but halfway between a nano & an iPod.
The iPod Classic is very underpowered, or the firmware is poorly written. Either way, you will find navigating through the menus very tedious and will start becoming annoyed. The first thing you will notice is that there is something wrong with the click wheel. It doesn't pick up your finger movements the way the other generations of iPod did.
Apple has never been very friendly to audiobook listeners, but the current software makes it really bad. You can no longer sort your audio books by genre (or author, or even book title). All audiobook files are only accessible in a single alphabetized list. Yes, that's files, not books. So to get to 'State of Fear' part 6 of 8, you need to scroll down through every file of every book you have that has a title that starts earlier in the alphabet than "S". For me, that's 187 files. What's worse, is the list isn't a normal list of files (as was in the last generation of iPod), but is double height for each file and displays a tiny picture of the book's cover next to the file. What's still worse is that most of the time these just show question marks and slow the scrolling process even more.
The podcast menu uses the same double height lists, as do virtually all lists. Currently you can't turn this off, and you get to wade through your songs in this manner.
The cover flow feature is completely unusable as it is so slow and the album art isn't populated quick enough to actually be of use.
The general navigation utilizes a 1/2 screen for the menu and 1/2 screen for artwork, cut vertically. Its only use is to look good in apple commercials. After the "wow, that's neat" wears off, you search around for how to turn it off, but sadly, you can't. All it does is make what you are trying to read cut off, and also slows down the iPod. You will notice between a 1 & 2 second lag time from selecting an item before the sub-menu shows up.
I would say you should buy a fifth generation if you can find one, or hold out for the next generation of the touch (when it has enough space to hold your music).
The only good thing about this iPod is that all the problems appear to be software related... however my fear is that apple won't be working too hard to fix them as the "touch" is their baby right now. The click wheel problems might also be software related, as it seems like some of the non-response you get is the software locking up, rather than the click wheel itself not detecting your finger. I would recommend not purchasing this iPod until a SIGNIFICANT software update is released.
I will update this review for new updates to the software if there is any noticeable difference. Currently I have version 1.0.1
*Update: I have found that if you disable "view album artwork" on the settings in iTunes, this dramatically speeds up the iPod. It is a shame you need to do this, but it even makes the click wheel more responsive. You will have no artwork, at all, on the iPod, but the music and menus will function quickly.
*Apple released software version 1.0.2. I have not noticed any change in performance running the iPod without artwork. I enabled artwork to test if the patch did anything there, and I must say that the speed of the menus has improved and the coverflow is a lot more smooth (though still not very useful). However, it is still slower than the old iPods and the flaws mentioned above remain.
*Apple released software version 1.0.3. Hopefully it will address some of the above mentioned concerns.
***WARNING - I have installed software update 1.1. It has some serious issues and I would not advise installing this update. For some, it is bricking the iPod. Not for me, but there are some really weird/bad things it does and I haven't noticed anything good that it does. The most noticeable negative change is that the iPod does not turn off correctly at the end of a playlist. I like to listen to my iPod as I fall asleep (The Classic Tales podcast is excellent, look into it), so I do an "on the go" playlist with one episode, so that after I fall asleep the episode will end and the iPod will shut off. Not so with the new update. At the end of the episode the iPod just plays what I can only describe as dead air. So, the iPod will just play this (I guess until the iPod runs out of batteries, but I usually just find it playing dead air in the morning and turn it off manually by holding the play button).
My fears about the software updates not being priority for Apple look like they are coming true. I have a sneaking feeling that they will update the iPod Touch to a full sized iPod (30GB-60GB) before the Classic is fixed. Again, buy a 5th gen if you can find one and avoid this product.