The Mac Hardware Report: A Real iPod Video? Not for Me!

January 5th, 2007

I want to tell you that I have tried hard to enjoy movies on my 5G iPod. Indeed, when Apple first began to release movie downloads, I culled through the modest list and actually purchased a flick. Nothing special, just “Grosse Pointe Blank,” a 1990’s comedy/adventure with John Cusack that I had enjoyed previously.

I downloaded my new purchase to the iPod, and spent a few moments evaluating the picture quality for an article, and then put the gadget away.

Later, when I wanted to check out an iPod/TV interface box, I again took it out and actually watched the film from beginning to end, plus some scattered videos I had accumulated over the previous months. After that I returned the iPod to its case. As days passed into weeks, I listened to my music collection on a pretty regular basis, without returning to videos.

It is a few months later and I thought about it real carefully. Yes, I had talked about the subject of a real video-oriented iPod with a larger screen and perhaps a touch interface on my tech radio show, The Tech Night Owl LIVE. But I promptly forgot about the subject pretty much as soon as the show concluded.

On a few occasions, I would take a brief look at a few moments of a video and return to the music. The realization slowly dawned on me that I prefer watching movies on TV and certainly in a movie theater. I have a fairly decent collection of DVDs, and there are certain films that I see more than once, which is why I bought copies in the first place.

The iPod? Well, I suppose if I were on an airplane and had nothing better to do, I might think otherwise. But I don’t fly all that often; maybe a few times a year at the most in recent years. The frequent fliers in our audience might think otherwise.

What about in-flight movies? Well, the tiny screen makes it difficult to get immersed in the plot, and, again, I only do it as a distraction when I can’t find anything useful to read. These days, I bring my Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headset with me, so I can use its noise-canceling feature to silence the drone from the engines and try to get a little rest. It sometimes even works.

So would a larger screen on the iPod make my change my tune? How big can the screen get in a diminutive package? Even if you could turn the iPod on its side, and a widescreen filled the length and breadth of the device, would that be sufficient to attract my interest?

The Mac rumor sites and the tech pundits have been talking up a true video iPod for quite some time now. It’s even possible Apple will introduce such a device next week, and also announce more partnerships with the movie studios that have so far remained on the sidelines. In fact, I will greet such news with no particular surprise. After all, it is only logical, and Apple has already telegraphed that sort of marketing direction simply by making movie downloads available, and preannouncing the iTV media streaming module.

I’m not even going to rant about the limitations of current movie downloading schemes, such as the inability to burn a copy onto a DVD and play it on the family DVD player. That shortcoming is so obvious, so blatant in fact, that you wonder about the movie studios and whether they truly believe they’ll somehow fight movie piracy that way. I don’t know what they are drinking and smoking, but they need to get into rehab real fast!

As for me, I don’t pretend to believe that I expect you to agree with me about the best medium on which to watch a movie, or even a TV show. I realize that lots of you do download your favorite TV episodes, and you sometimes even buy a season pass. Perhaps it makes more sense for TV programming, since it’s limited to about 44 minutes for an hour show, and half that for 30 minutes. At least you don’t have to manually skip past commercials when you see the replay.

Now I know that many of you will think I am just an old fashioned sort. It is very true that I grew up in the final days of double-features at the local movie theater, and before multiplexes claimed the landscape. But I’m as happy to adopt a new technology as the next person, when it makes sense.

So do movies on an iPod make sense to you? Do you plan to go out and purchase a model with a larger screen if it comes to pass? Or am I in good company here?

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10 Responses to “The Mac Hardware Report: A Real iPod Video? Not for Me!”

  1. woz says:

    What about those special glasses you can hook up?
    I’ve never tried them but the way I unerstand it, they give you a ‘bigscreen’ experience.

  2. rahrens says:

    Ok, I’m somewhat in your camp. I prefer to use a TV for my movies, too.

    However, I’ve also downloaded Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Man’s Chest) onto my MacBook, and connected that to my TV. Good resolution, cheaper than going to the movies, can pause, backup, replay, fast forward, just like my DVR, so going to tbhe bathroom isn’t a problem, and snacks are a snap, as well as cheaper there, too!

    I know the iPod is just as capable as that is for the same purpose, only a bit more mobile.

    But then you introduce the iTV (or whatever Apple will call it), and you can do the same thing wirelessly, without cables. So who needs a laptop? The iPod is still useful, since Aunt Maude probably doesn’t have an iTV. So you can bump it so it’ll play HD content, sync wirelessly, and will have a larger screen. Plus, maybe, capable of wireless streaming to the iTV.

    Still good, in my book.

  3. Ian says:

    I am with you Gene. When I am in a position to watch video, I am also in a position to watch it better than on an iPod. The only thing I’d like about a video iPod at all is to have my collection at my fingertips for video on my non high-def TV. I don’t take the bus or train or anything like that. As cool as the technology is it isn’t useful to me or to most people that I know to be able to watch video on the go.
    I’d also be concerned for my own well being if I couldn’t stand in a line at the DMV or tax office without watching a video or having some distraction at hand. I don’t like the idea of my mind not being good enough company for a few minutes of waiting time.

  4. Ronald says:

    Hi Gene,

    By doing so, Apple would compete more directly with Sony’s PSP. One reason Sony was not successful selling movies for its portable device is the fact that people had to buy the movie again…. There was no way to download it. It has to be ripped–illegally sometimes.

  5. Matt says:

    I had been looking for an iPod for months trying decide between the 30 GB and the Nano. When the dust cleared, I bought the 8 GB Nano – the same cost as a 30 GB Video. Why you ask?

    1) When you have a 42″ screen at home, a 2.5″ screen is not all that appealling – it’s missing about 40″ and 5 other speakers. Hell, I don’t even watch DVD’s on my laptop.

    2) I don’t want to look like my kids with their nose buried in a PSP, Nitendo or any thing else like that; only lifting their chins to come for air.

    3) My entire music collection could fit on a 30 GB, but not the Nano. Then again, my NAD CD player could on fit 1 CD at a time. I’ll create wise Playlists first and sync what I want to hear at that time. Hassle yes – but you can’t beat the size and the fact that the Nano won’t skip. Remember those portable CD players. Now that’s annoying.

  6. Andrew says:

    I’m still totally satisfied with my 6GB iPod Mini, though the new Shuffle is very appealing with its built-in clip. I download TV shows from iTunes all the time, but I watch them either on my my 12″ laptop or 20″ iMac, and even if I owned a video iPod, the laptop would still win for in-flight.

  7. Jim Weiser says:

    How about the new mini Laser projector, built in for the Laptop, iTV, iPod, iChatphone, could replace a big Ty, use in Classroom & iChatting.

  8. I’m still totally satisfied with my 6GB iPod Mini, though the new Shuffle is very appealing with its built-in clip. I download TV shows from iTunes all the time, but I watch them either on my my 12″ laptop or 20″ iMac, and even if I owned a video iPod, the laptop would still win for in-flight.

    And, of course, there’s always the $99 portable DVD player with the built-in screen. Doesn’t anyone use these anymore? I never did, of course, but it’s certainly a cheap alternative.


  9. Brian says:

    I Love my 30 GB iPod video.. Now, I am totally a movie buff and prefer the absolute biggest screen and best sound quality possible. But, mostly for tv shows that I miss, I like to take my iPod with me to work and then watch a show while i’m eating lunch. Or, while traveling by plane, I will watch a couple of my movies that I’ve converted or tv shows to pass the time.. It makes the flight go so much quicker.. In flight movies are usually old and I’ve most likely seen them.

    I don’t usually watch movies more than once or twice though, so, the iTunes store for movies it too expensive, for the lesser quality and not being able to burn to DVD yourself. I rent movies quite a bit, and rarely buy movies, but if I’m going to buy one, then I want the better quality, or a cheaper price. For the iTunes music store, I prefer to buy the songs, but I would much prefer an on demand rental model for movies..

  10. Steve Paris says:

    Well, I’m a huge fan of the video iPod: it has made me watch movies again.

    My wife and I live very busy lives. We have three kids and are both self-employed. We’d reach the stage that by the end of the day we barely had enough energy to catch up with each other, let alone watch a movie.

    However, with the advent of the video iPod, we can watch a movie while putting the kids to sleep (or at least part of it). Also, it’s a godsend on car trips and an amazing replacement for DVDs: our kids can watch whatever they like and we don’t worry about the DVD player getting stuffed with food or greasy fingerprints left on the DVD themselves. All we do now is hook the iPod to the TV, let them choose the movie/TV show they want and off they go.

    Bring on the wide-touchscreen iPod!

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