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Apple iPod 30GB (with video) Review

Spec Data
Player Type:�Hard Disk MP3 Player, Portable Media Player
Recording, Voice:�No
Recording, Line In:�Optional
Audio Battery Life:�900 min
Screen Size:�320 x 240 pixels
Capacity:�30000 MB
Dimensions:�4.1 x 2.4 x 0.43 inches
Weight:�4.8 oz
Video Recording:�No

Don't call it the Video iPod, the vPod, or anything that indicates that this is a video player. It's the new iPod, period. Though it does have video-playback capabilities, Apple has chosen to keep the iPod's focus on audio (for now). That said, video looks excellent on the new model's 2.5-inch screen, and the thinner profile—not to mention new audio capabilities such as high-quality stereo recording—makes it more versatile than previous generations. Consider that you can now get the 30GB model for the same price as the previous-generation 20GB model, and you have a pretty impressive product.

The new 30GB iPod is 30 percent thinner than the previous 20GB color model, but the height and width are the same. (The current 60GB model is roughly 10 percent slimmer than the older 20GB model.) This may not seem like a big difference on paper, but we were impressed with the new model's slimmed-down figure when we held the two side by side. The 2.5-inch backlit LCD, at 320 by 240 pixels, is noticeably bigger than the previous 2-inch 220-by-176 screen.

Apple also eliminated the 9-pin remote-control connector in this version, which means third parties such as Griffin and Belkin will have to update their accessory lines. Apple's reasoning was that accessories should go through the already-present dock connector rather than through a second proprietary port.
Apple iPod 30GB

The iPod's interface is mostly the same, though Podcasts and Audiobooks are now located in the Music menu. A new Videos menu offers access to video playlists, Movies, Music Videos, and Video Podcasts. The Video Settings menu (also accessible in the Videos menu) lets you enable or disable TV output, toggle between NTSC and PAL format, and turn the widescreen on and off. The stopwatch and screen lock that were introduced with the iPod nano are also present, although you can now have up to three lap timers on the screen at once, thanks to the larger LCD. On our battery rundown test, we measured 16.5 hours of continuous audio playback for the 30GB model, using a real-world mix of MP3 files encoded at from 128 to 320 Kbps. The device is rated at two hours of video playback, but we got 2 hours and 25 minutes using several video podcasts and an episode of Lost, listening with the included earbuds with the volume at normal listening level. Your mileage may vary depending on content, listening volume, how long you've had your iPod (yes, rechargeable batteries lose capacity over time), operating temperature, playback mode, and EQ setting. The 60GB version offers 20 hours of audio or three hours of video per charge.

Despite Apple's focus on audio, the first thing everyone wants to know is how video looks on the new iPod. We downloaded an episode of Lost and a few video podcasts from the iTunes Music Store, and, to our surprise, the viewing experience was remarkably comfortable. Brighter shots look very clear and crisp, though, as with most devices that play back compressed video, you can often see compression artifacts like blockiness and banding in dark areas. We wouldn't want to watch subtitled content or sports (the wide camera angles would probably make players a bit too small, not to mention a hockey puck), but everything we watched looked sharp and smooth. One thing we really like is that the iPod remembers where you stop watching a video, so any time you go back to it, you can simply resume from where you left off. You can also scrub through video, though not in real time; you scroll through a progress bar, and the video jumps to the point where you stop scrolling.
Apple iPod 30GB

The specs on the video are as follows: File format support includes MOV, MP4, and M4V (Apple's DRM-protected video content). The iPod plays H.264 (Baseline Profile) video at up to 768 Kbps, 320 by 240 pixels, and 30 frames per second, as well as MPEG-4 (Simple Profile) at up to 2.5 Mbps, 480 by 480 pixels, and 30 fps. The stereo audio portions of videos are in 48-kHz AAC-LC format at up to 160 Kbps. According to Apple, you can fit roughly 75 hours of video on the 30GB model and twice that on the 60GB version.

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