When Apple released the iPod mini (Second Generation) to great fanfare, it also, with less flourish, rejiggered the iPod photo line. It did so not by updating the interface or adding new capabilities to the colorful music and picture player, but rather by slashing the price of the 60GB model and replacing the 40GB version with a 30GB iPod photo priced at $349 that holds approximately 7,500 songs or 25,000 photos.
Less is More?
While doing so, Apple removed some previously bundled accessories. These include the proprietary FireWire and AV cables, iPod photo Dock, and Apple-branded carrying case. Oh, and perhaps to dampen the perception that fewer accessories were bundled with these iPods, Apple housed the iPod photo and its headphones, USB 2.0 cable, AC adapter, and manuals and software CD in a slimmer box.
Very little else differentiates the “old” iPod photo from the “new.” In our play-time tests the current iPod photo fared as well as the old—exceeding Apple’s promised 15 hours of play by 93 minutes (backlighting, EQ, and Sound Check were turned off in my test and I pressed Shuffle Songs to keep the iPod playing constantly). When connected to the now-optional AV cable, the new iPod photo projected a slideshow on an attached television for about two hours. With TV Out turned off, the 30GB model I tested played a slideshow for about five and a half hours—figures similar to the “original” 60GB iPod photo I tested. This iPod charged as quickly from the USB 2.0 as it did with the previous iPod’s FireWire cable. And the colorful interface looks just as great on this iPod as on previous models.
The single important difference other than the lack of bundled accessories and price is the size of the 30GB iPod photo. The previous 40GB model was as thick as the 60GB version and thus required special accessories to fit it. Today’s 30GB model is just slightly thicker than the 20GB fourth-generation iPod and fits nicely into cases, docks, and speakers designed for earlier dock-connector iPods.
Disappointing as it is to lose vital accessories such as the iPod’s FireWire and AV cables, many people will be happy to make the trade for a more affordable, colorful iPod.