Right on the heels of my iPod nano review, Apple had to go and make another iPod. Lately I’ve been inclined to believe the people saying Apple just does this to make you want to upgrade – it’s like a disease. But they keep improving the thing, I have to admit that.

The “new iPod” as Apple calls it comes in 30 and 60GB white or black models. I purchased the 30GB Black model for this review. Retail price on this model is $299+tax at http://store.apple.com.

Both the 30GB and the 60GB version of this unit look very similar to the iPod Nano in design, but are much wider to accommodate the screen (for video content). They are comparably much thinner than the older iPods as well.

The new feature in this lineup is the ability to play MPEG4 and H.264 (an MP4 variant) video. The screen in the unit is a 2.5″ 320×240 pixel screen, which surprisingly enough felt a lot bigger after watching it for a while. The sound depends on how well the original file’s sound was recorded, but sounded good enough for my ears on this podcast.

I tested my iPod with two videos, the video for the Gorillaz song “Feel Good Inc”, from their website, and This Week In Tech Episode #27. Both videos displayed pretty nicely on the iPod – the TWiT video seemed slightly choppy – but that may have been the encoding method used. I was impressed at how simple the videos are to navigate – similar to how the music navigation works.

As far as music, this unit is similar in operation to all other iPods I’ve ever used, with the notable exception of the really large screen. This makes album art display in a huge size and also most longer song titles don’t need to scroll on the display anymore like on the older iPods.

I found the headphone amplifier in this model is slightly louder than my iPod Nano was. This I am not sure why, but it makes it easier to not have to turn my AUX-IN up so loud in my car. Other than this interesting find, I felt the sound is the same (in my opinion – I have no scientific proof here) compared to other models.

I also enjoyed the increase in size over the Nano. Try as I may, I couldn’t shoehorn the best of my music library into the Nano’s 4GB size. The 30GB gives me some room to breathe, at least. Someday I may upgrade to the 60 if Apple doesn’t put another new one out in a week.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the “new” iPod model. It’s nothing revolutionary, and video playing portables exist already (see the Sony PSP for example, which has a much better screen than this), but It’s still a new, slimmer, cooler iPod. The coolest non-nano version yet.

Pros:

+ Larger, color LCD
+ Longer song titles viewable on-screen
+ MP4/H.264 Video support
+ Thinner than 4th Gen iPods, not much thicker than the Nano.

Cons:

– No XviD/DivX/MPEG support (honestly, how hard would this have been to add)
– Battery life while playing video content is less than stellar
– USB2 only, No FireWire support (seems to be a trend with the new iPods)
– Scratches show easier on black, glossy case (get a sock).

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