Apple iPod 80GB

  • Share
  • Read Later

There were sexier announcements made by Steve Jobs last week, like the new line of nanos — super slenderized, brushed aluminum 4GB models that come in pink, green, blue and silver (for $199) and the bold black one ($249) with 8GB capacity. However, I thought the 80GB iPod was more situated at the center of Apple's big picture: movie downloads at the iTunes Store and a future in the living room. Once I had an 80GB iPod in my hand, I discovered that the wait for a living-room option wasn't as far off as Jobs had indicated.

It turns out, both movies and TV shows are being encoded in files that better suit TV screens. All of the TV shows on iTunes are now available in a higher-resolution format. Originally, episodes of The Office were around 110MB in size, and had pictures that were 320 pixels wide; the same episodes, sold at the same price, are now around 240MB, and are 640 pixels wide. (Note: while the files are 640x480 in resolution, widescreen movies and TV shows are letterboxed, so they actually have a height of something considerably less than 480 pixels.)

The new size can be a bummer if you already spent $48 buying the poorer-quality version of the first season of 24 And if you decide to repurchase, the new files take twice as long to download. The larger size also means more of a drain on older video-capable iPods. They didn't have terrific battery life for video playback before, and they do slightly worse with the new files.

But the larger-size video is still welcome news. The 80GB iPod can play six and a half hours of it (or more); the 30GB iPod has three and a half hours, up from around two. I connected the 80GB iPod to a dock with an S-Video output, and connected that to a 42-in. high-definition Panasonic plasma. I didn't expect a miracle picture, but I was happy to see that it was as good or better than standard-definition broadcast TV, if not as good as DVDs or HD broadcasts. I would not mind watching iPod-based movies on my TV, provided they weren't movies whose visual effects and subtleties were crucial. I used the $39 Apple dock, but you can also use other video-capable docks, like the one I recommended last spring from DLO.

The eagerly anticipated iTV (or whatever it will be called), slated to arrive next spring, will have an HDMI output for the simplest high-quality connection to newer high-def TVs. That bodes well for an even higher quality iTunes movie format that Apple might introduce in the future. However, I can't imagine how the current iTunes movie and TV show downloads will look any better when played through the iTV than they do today, with a docked iPod.

  1. Previous
  2. 1
  3. 2