Sachin Sharma
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Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.
- Obi Wan Kanobi
- StarWars III - Revenge of the Sith


What an amazing device, the iPod

Recently, I had an opportunity to work on a small module of a media conversion application. The module simply took iPod compatible videos from the conversion application and exported it to iTunes as a play-list for transferring to iPod.

Before I go ahead, I must say that iTunes is a wonderfully designed application. And I mean not only in functionality and build-quality but also programmability. With the iTunes COM Windows SDK, you can program every aspect of iTunes. The SDK is an excellent piece of work. One major drawback is that iTunes launches itself with the first call you make to one of its methods.

So with this module, I also used a 30GB iPod that had video capability. First look: it will take your breath away – no kidding. With its outstandingly crafted yet rigid body and a circular touch sensitive navigation disk, the iPod is an engineering marvel. A quick search on Rediff revealed that the price of the same model in India is a little over Rs. 10,000. That seems steep. But, believe me when I say that the iPod is worth every rupee you spend on it.

So what do you get for your 10K? First, you get to listen to music. On a 30GB iPod, 30GB of disk space amounts to your entire music collection. But wait, my music collection never grows above 5GB. So what about the other 25GB? You have videos for one. Videos take up a lot of space. Now even if you carry 5 movies on the iPod, it would take up like 5GB. That less! Yes, the iPod accepts MP4 video which gives more video for less space as compared to videos made for a VCD.

The iPod specifications say that the video should be in the MP4 format, 640 pixels in height, 640 pixels in width and 48.1 KHz audio. But, to make optimum use of the iPod screen and space, a video with 320 pixels in width and 240 pixels in height works best. It fills up the entire screen and takes up less space. And, yes, the iPod plays it just fine – videos “to go”.

Following my little math, the iPod still has 20GB of hard-disk space left. What more? Yes, Photos. So, putting in selected photos of recent trips, photos of family and friends will take more or less 5GB. On an iPod, you get to see these photos laid out as thumbnails. Just imagine listening to music while viewing a slideshow. What a wonderful life?

Apple iTunes is the only reliable method to put music, videos and photos on to the iPod. iTunes supports music and videos pretty good. However, iTunes’ support for photos is a little bit shady. For music and videos, you get to make play-lists and you get to organize them to your liking. The moment iTunes detects the iPod in the USB port of the computer; it pops up and starts updating the iPod immediately.

That is all good, but what about Photos? In iTunes, you cannot even view photos – leave alone making something like play-lists of the photos. To get photos on to the iPod, you must give iTunes a folder. iTunes will update the iPod with photos in this folder. This works but it seems like a workaround to me. Apple just had to put in a method to transfer photos.

The calculations say that with music, videos and photos you would normally use up to 15GB of hard-disk space. The iPod still has 15GB left. What can you do about that? Well, it is always good to have extra space. Didn’t I mention it; you can use the iPod as any other removable disk. An iPod drive shows up in Windows Explorer as a new drive. Just copy and paste data to the drive. Get a 40GB iPod and enjoy more space.

If iPod 30GB with video is so great, what can I say about the iPod Nano? An iPod Nano is half the size of the normal iPod. In India, the price of a Nano is around Rs. 15,000. Steep again? You just can’t put a price when it comes to owning such a device. Recently, Apple also launched an iPod Hi-fi that is actually a complete sound system with sub-woofer; all contained in a box the size of your kitchen toaster. They have a good catch line too.

Recently, I read that the iPod commands 78% share of the portable player market. Samsung recently came up with a model quite similar to the iPod Nano. According to the comparison, even this would be a failed attempt to belt the mighty cat that is the Apple iPod.
Sunday, March 19, 2006 at 2:25 AM. Comments: 0.
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