iPod (5.5G)

iPod (5.5G)

Both its software and its screen are brighter.


Although it wasn't "completely remastered," as was the iPod nano, the flagship 5G iPod received a sprucing up in its latest incarnation. It shares the same software upgrades as the iPod nano, and its larger screen and larger capacity make the interface's search improvements more welcome than on the nano. Also on the software side is the addition of games (reviewed on p66), which can run on older 5G video-capable iPods, too.


The new iPod has three impressive enhancements: First are its new earbuds (the same as provided with the iPod nano); second is its improved battery life - our 80GB test model played our 6,000-song playlist containing tracks with a wide variety of encodings for a full 19.5 hours before pooping out; and third is a screen brightness that's noticeably improved over that of the earlier 5G 'Pod. If you crank up Settings > Brightness, the difference is so apparent that the older model looks positively tawdry in comparison. Of course, the brighter you set the screen to watch video, the shorter your battery life.


Another welcome change is that the new iPod can output video to a TV at 640 by 480 pixels (even though its display remains at 480 by 320 pixels); the difference from the previous 320-by-240-pixel output is noticeable. One welcome nonchange is the sizes of the two offered models; your older cases and accessories will still fit. Unfortunately, the new 5G iPod also shares some of the limitations of the model it replaces: Its clickwheel is still too touchy, especially for those with large fingers, and its display is still too small to comfortably view photo thumbnails or movies.


The bottom line. The new iPod has some welcome improvements, but if Apple wants us to carry our digital entertainment center in our pockets, it needs to provide us with a bigger window on our world.


CONTACT: 800-692-7753 or 408-996-1010, www.apple.com
$249 (30GB), $349 (80GB)
REQUIREMENTS: USB-equipped Mac, Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, iTunes 7 or later
Brighter screen. Longer battery life. Improved earbuds. Games. Lower price per gigabyte. 80GB is biggest ever.
Display is too small for watching movies. Clickwheel can be touchy.






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You forgot a key feature of the 5.5 gen iPod, the SEARCH feature! I waited a long time for that feature. It should have been part of the iPod interface from day one.


John P

Rik: Thanks for your helpful review. Apple can't seem to give me a straight answer on this question: do the 5.5 improvements (screen & battery) apply to both the 30 and 80 versions, or just the 80 GB version? It seems like the improved batteries are only in the 80 GB version, but perhaps the improved screens are in both 30 and 80 GB versions.



The display's brightness is done with whole new backlight hardware so is not going to filter to a discontinued version. Some of the interface improvements cannot be filtered down to the older fifth gens because of the Sarbanes and Oxley law which doesn't allow all functionality of future products to be implemented on their older counterparts for whatever reason.

The estimated overall playtimes of music for both the 30 and 80GB models remain unchanged according to Apple, but the difference is in video playback time. The 5.5G 30GB will give you almost 2 more hours of playtime compared to the original's nearly 2 hours, and the 80 provides nearly 6 hours compared to the orginal's 4. This is because of an improved ARM chip which buffers the files better allowing the PMP to play the videos longer while having fewer sessions of HDD access, which really helps to conserve power.

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