While the iPod Photo behaves like a fourth-generation iPod in most respects, its unique features demand greater examination than what they received in
my recent review. With that in mind, here’s a grab bag of iPod Photo items:
The iPod can display album art, but it doesn’t
to. The trick to switching album art on and off is iTunes 4.7’s Display Album Artwork on Your iPod option (found in the iPod Preferences window). With this option on, the iPod will do what the option suggests — display album art for those files that have art embedded in them. With the option off, no album art is displayed, though the art won’t be removed from the file.
So given that files won’t be any smaller when you disable album art, why do it? It adds an extra click to navigating the iPod. On older iPods, when you click the Select button while a song is playing, you’re taken to the Scrub screen. With a iPod Photo, clicking on a Now Playing screen that displays artwork takes you to a window that shows you a full screen of artwork. Some find clicking through this intermediate screen inconvenient. Turning off album art eliminates this step.
Bonus bit: Artwork can add from 15- to over 100KB of data to a song. If you have thousands of songs with embedded artwork, this can add up. If you’re a Mac user who’s stingy with storage, consider using Peter Vendlegard’s
Remove Artwork AppleScript
to strip art from your files.
You can also remove album art by selecting a song, choosing Get Info from iTunes’ File menu, clicking the Artwork tab, selecting the artwork, and clicking the Delete button.
Picture Import via Card Reader versus iTunes Export
There’s some confusion about how importing pictures via a card reader such as Belkin’s Media Reader for iPod differs from placing pictures on the iPod Photo with iTunes. Let’s clear up some of that confusion here.
To begin with, the only way to move pictures onto the iPod that can be displayed on the iPod is via iTunes. iTunes converts the pictures and places them in a proprietary file that only the iPod can read. Placing pictures in the iPod’s Photos folder moves you not one step closer to displaying those pictures on the iPod.
The Include Full-Resolution Photos option found in the Photos portion of the iPod Preferences window copies your original pictures to the iPod but these pictures aren’t displayed on the iPod. They’re placed on the iPod simply so you can more easily transport your full-resolution images to another computer.
Photo import via a reader works this way:
You plug in the reader and the iPod throws up a screen asking you if you’d like to import the pictures. Click Import and those photos are copied to the iPod and stored in a folder at the root level of your iPod (that folder on my iPod is called DCIM but yours may not as different cameras name pictures and directories differently).
Once you’ve imported some photos, a new Photo Import command appears on the iPod. On the iPod Photo this entry is found in the Photos screen. On other iPods it’s found in the Extras screen. There’s very little you can do with this command — you can either ask the iPod to import more photos from an attached reader or delete specific rolls.
When you plug any variety of iPod that bears photos into your computer, those photos aren’t synced to your computer via iTunes. iTunes photo capabilities are one way — they convert and move photos to the iPod, they don’t import them.
To import photos on a Mac you use iPhoto. On a PC you drag them manually from that photo folder at the root level of the iPod or use a utility such as iPodSync.
The key combinations for resetting, Disk Mode, and Diagnostic Mode are the same on the iPod Photo as they are for the other click wheel iPods. Here’s the rundown:
Reset the iPod
Press and hold Select and Menu until you see the Apple logo on the startup screen. Apple suggests that you plug your iPod into a power source before doing this. Resetting is good for “unfreezing” a non-responsive iPod. It’s also the gateway command for invoking Disk Mode and Diagnostic Mode.
Reset the iPod and, when you see the Apple logo, press and hold Select and Play. A monochrome Disk Mode screen (not backlit) will appear. Disk Mode is useful when your iPod won’t mount. This puts the iPod into something akin to the Mac’s FireWire Target Disk Mode — it tells the iPod to mount, dammit.
Reset the iPod and, when you see the Apple logo, press and hold Select and Back. Let go when you hear a beep.
Diagnostic Mode is more a curiosity than a help. It allows you to run the kinds of tests on the iPod’s components that only a geek would love. With the iPod Photo, Apple has reorganized Diagnostic Mode to gang together similar tests. It shakes out this way:
The main screen reads iPod Diagnostics and displays SRV followed by a date below (I assume this is the date of the iPod’s firmware).
Below is a list of test suites:
You can use the scroll wheel or Forward and Back buttons to move from one suite to another. To invoke a suite or test, press Select. The suites contain these tests:
Clicking SDRAM takes you to a screen that lists a single SDRAMFullTest. Click Select in this screen and the iPod tests the internal memory chip. The screen displays SDRAM OK if the SDRAM is indeed, okay.
The iPod displays Checksum=0xE937 on my iPod when I run this test. This test checks the device’s flash memory.
Another, more extensive, memory test. When complete the iPod resets.
Three tests appear when you click Comms — USBTest, FirewireTest, and Remote. Their names describe them aptly. In order to run the first two tests successfully you must make the appropriate connection — the iPod’s data cable must be connected to a USB port or FireWire port for the first two tests and the iPod’s Remote Control must be attached for the Remote test.
Two tests appear when you click Wheel — KeyTest and WheelTest. KeyTest asks you to engage the click wheel’s five buttons. To pass the WheelTest, just scroll your thumb around the wheel.
Two tests here: Backlight and Color. Engaging Backlight allows you to run through the iPod’s varying degrees of brightness. The setting you leave the test with does not affect the iPod’s brightness after you reset it. The Color test requires that you press Select to see each of these colors/patterns: blue, red, green, black, white, red to black gradient, green to black gradient, blue to black gradient, gray to black gradient, checkerboard pattern, black, and gray to black gradient again.
Indicates whether something is plugged into the headphone port and whether the Hold switch is on or off.
This screen includes four tests — HDSpecs, HDScan, HDSMARTData, and HDRW. The HDSpecs test provides you with the hard drive’s specs (its model number and firmware revision, for example). This test is akin to a first-, second-, or third generation iPod’s Disk Scan test. The test takes several minutes, so don’t perform it unless the iPod is plugged into a power source. The HDSMARTData test provides a summary of the drive’s S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) information — the drive’s self-diagnostic data. Finally, HDRW is the drive’s read/write test.
The HDScan test is one of the few useful-for-end-user tests. The first three generations of iPod had a Disk Scan test that could be invoked by resetting the iPod and holding down Back, Forward, Select, and Menu. This key combination isn’t possible on click wheel iPods and no other secret key combo has been introduced for recent iPods. Accessing the test through Diagnostic Mode is the only way to do it.
This screen leads you to two tests, Playback and Mic. Pressing Select in the Playback test screen causes the iPod to blast a short burst of audio. Plug a microphone with a miniplug connector into the iPod and invoke the Mic test to record a few seconds of audio.
This test leads to a host of power tests, battery as well as input charging.
This screen takes you to two sleep tests — SleepShort and SleepForever. Invoking SleepShort puts the iPod to sleep for a few seconds. SleepForever shuts down the iPod.
No submenus on this one. This simply tells you the LCD setting (it should read “Sharp”), whether something’s plugged into the headphone port, and whether the iPod is getting power from a FireWire or USB connection.
Another command with no submenus. This displays the iPod’s serial number, hardware version number, and Apple part number.
If, for some very odd reason, you can’t remember the button combination for throwing your iPod into Disk Mode, you can use this command instead.
Bit of trivia: When you access Disk Mode this way, the iPod Photo won’t display Disk Mode at the top of the screen.
Another safety net command. If you’d rather not press Select and Menu to get out of Diagnostic Mode, you can invoke this command.