Friday, July 28, 2006

More reasons why the iPod is crap

Following my recent post about Apple's economy with the truth concerning the iPod battery life, I wanted to add a couple more reasons why I think the iPod is crap, or at least not as good as Apple would like you to think.

First, I've had the experience just after turning it on or after shuffling songs that the controls become unresponsive for 20-30 seconds. It's OK if this is happening because the iPod needs to do some computation. It's not OK that there is no indication of a delay in the user interface. Apple included the hourglass in what they stole from Xerox for the Mac UI: why couldn't they do it for the iPod?

Secondly, suppose you have the iPod set up to shuffle by album. You are half way through an album when the battery runs low and so you connect it up. When you next turn it on, it has reshuffled the playlist and started you on a new album. This is true even if no new music was downloaded, and even if you have manual synchronization set up.

Oh, and another thing. The capacitative touch control is all very well, but don't try using it too close to your Blackberry. The radio signal from the Blackberry presumably causes electrical discharge through your fingertips, and so the controls go mad. You have to think there are some Blackberry users amongst Apple's so-called design team who might have noticed this and considered a different sort of control. I wonder what happens if you use the iPod in a thunderstorm?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Apple iPod Battery Life

Apple's figures for the battery life on a iPod are misleading, disingenuous, or at least economical with the truth. For a fifth generation, 30G iPod, they say 14 hours music playing time on a fully charged batter. If you think you are getting less than this, you can run a test using a methodology listed here. Basically, you set your iPod to play a single album on repeat, with the backlight and EQ turned off. Repeating the same album means there is little or no disk access, and turning off EQ reduces extra computation. If you get less than half the specified time, you can consider the battery faulty.

So another way of putting this is that the battery life is between 7 and 14 hours, provided you are using the iPod in completely unrealistic way. If you ever use the backlight, shuffle the playing order, or skip tracks, you get far less.

On the test, my iPod gave 11 hours and 10 minutes, about the in the middle of the range. In my typical use, with no EQ and the backlight timer set to 5 seconds, I get between 3 and 4 hours, which is barely acceptable.

Apple like to present themselves as a white knight: we are good for our users and morally better than the other guys. Well, they've always been better at projecting an image than creating a reality. This is the company who forced the one-button mouse on us, or made out that a Mac was better because it had a case made of translucent blue plastic, and who are currently advertising themselves as better than Microsoft by means of sneering at them. I think I would rather they put their efforts into being more honest about themselves.