Geeks.com sent us over for a whirl the highest capacity available iPod mp3 player, the 120 GB version of the iPod Classic. In the era of the touchscreen iPods and smartphones, how is the Classic design holding up?
First off, the iPod Classic 120 GB is a much thinner and lighter device than the original iPods that felt like bricks. It has nice rounded corners, and a beautiful finish. It sports a 2.5″ 4:3 QVGA LCD screen, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Hold slider button, and of course, its well-known by now, touch wheel.
The 120 GB Classic model has the ability to playback VGA h.264/AAC MP4/MOV Simple Profile videos, including rentals and music videos from the iTunes Store. There’s the ability to connect the iPod to a widescreen TV and watch these videos on an HDTV. Same goes for JPEG images.
There are also various extras, like world clock, notes, calendar, alarms, stopwatch and 3 games. I found myself being addicted to Klondike.
In the Settings area, you will be able to control the datetime, backlight timeout, screen brightness, language, EQ, normalizer, and modify the main and music menus.
Heavyweights: Zune 120 GB vs iPod 120 GB
Regarding audio, the iPod can playback mp3, AAC, AALAC, audiobooks, and WAVE. Sound quality is unprecedented, especially when using good quality headphones and 256 kbps VBR tracks. The iPod has proven to be near perfect with our gapless albums, one of the few mp3 players that do so.
In the music menu, you will find playlists (copied automatically by your iTunes installation), Genius (the song matchmaker), Cover Flow (a visual representation of album art), and even searching (which I found pretty tedious to type). At this point I should mention that the Genius algorithm/results has gotten better since it first came out.
When playing a track, the album art is shown on the left side, the track name, album and artist names on the right, with a progress bar on the bottom. Clicking the middle button will interchange the progress bar with a volume bar, a seeking bar, or a “star” voting screen.
The user interface is very speedy, and well thought out. The usability is definitely better than Zune’s. Battery life is phenomenal at over 30 hours of playback.
However, the question remains: should you go for a Classic iPod, or an iPod Touch/iPhone? The answer is this: if you own over 30 GBs of music, go for the Classic. If not, definitely go for the Touch/iPhone. The touchscreen interface on Touch/iPhone is even more intuitive and sexy, and faster to get to certain artists or songs (scrolling on our 60 GB of music in the iPod Classic was daunting).
Regardless, the iPod Classic remains one of the biggest innovations of this decade in my opinion, and unless flash storage becomes dirt cheap, the hard drive Classic iPod version will continue to thrive among audiophiles with too much music for their own good.