My brother came to visit at the end of last week. Along with himself he brought a full array of gadgets – his iPod mini and his brand-spanking new mobile phone. Both little wonders of technology. We did a bit of shopping, without much success and had some nice coffee and cake (well, me at least).
The iPod mini is amazing. It may not have a lot of capacity – at least not enough for him to take all the files with him he wanted to – but it is really tiny. Those few millimetres that the iPod mini is smaller than the regular iPod are very important millimetres. It feels a lot smaller than the numbers suggest. I even wondered how they managed to fit a hard drive and a battery into the tiny enclosure.
In addition to that the device feels good. The enclosure is solid and its boundaries are well-defined. Yet it is nice to touch and even small enough to comfortably fit into your palm. The 'click wheel' is brilliant and easy to use. The display looked much crisper to me than that of my iPod.
The other thing I really liked was the position of the hold switch and the headphone jack on the iPod mini. I frequently find it hard to un-hold my iPod as you have get your finger in a tiny space between the headphone connector and the switch in the middle of the iPod's side. I don't find this easy to perform single-handedly. The iPod mini's layout which maximises the distance between the headphone plug and the hold switch is much better in that respect. Also, having the switch at the left side of the top makes using it easier for right-handed people as myself.
So guess what? I'm also impressed by the 4G iPod introduced this week. It seems to correct many of the issues I saw with the old iPod, Including the replacement of the touch buttons by the nice 'click-wheel'. (It doesn't seem to relocate the hold-switch, though.) A better battery life, the lower price and the other new features are also welcome. I couldn't care less for the Shuffle option – but I'd find it neat if people found a little XML file on the iPod that made the menus fully configurable.
Now I regret having an iPod already – Apple must be doing something right... although I wonder whether us old iPod owners couldn't benefit a bit more from the new software they seem to use?
And after my brother left, I had the worst experience that an iPod owner can have... he accidentally took my iPod cable with him. No copying, no recharging. Bad. Luckily the cable has made its way back to me by now. I hope you also enjoyed the pictures of the little iPod hiding behind the big one...
... they were taken with my brother's new phone. Craptacular isn't it? I already shrunk those images down to half the original size to get them a bit smoother. And still it looked like JPEG compression actually made them better... great. So that phone has a camera, I think it's a Sony 630 or so. Everybody seems to have one of those these days (I know at least four people by now).
Apart from the camera, the absolute winner for that phone is that you can sync it with your Mac and use Salling Clicker with it. That's just plain cool (although a bit lagged for my taste) and makes everybody want to have Bluetooth on their computers. And, amazingly, the phone has a ringtone that's just like proper phone. The only not 120% crappy one, for sure, but it's there. Strangely my friends immediately remembered that I said I won't get a mobile phone before they can ring 'properly'... but luckily that was a necessary and not sufficient condition so I may get away with not having one for a little longer.
Other things about the phone were less nice, like the UI which looked horrid to me. Not only did it feel like Windows but it also was quite hard to understand and by far too complex and full of settings you didn't know what for. It also has a special 'Internet' button which will – surprise – connect you to the internet. Unfortunately nobody in their right mind would want to do that because it's expensive and crap. Sadly people actually need to make an effort to turn this off and couldn't find a reasonable use for the button yet.
So it's cool but not really good.
although I wonder whether us old iPod owners couldn’t benefit a bit more from the new software they seem to use?
I wish it were possible, too. Maybe it’s the chip/memory limitation, who knows, and I’ve tried to find out. PortalPlayer’s new chip specs for the iPod mini are over here, the 5020. Perhaps the early chip models are in the previous iPod generations.
… they were taken with my brother’s new phone. Craptacular isn’t it?
Personally, I really don’t like camera phones. I realise they’re handy and everything, but the idea of bundling lots of features into a small device like that irks me. I prefer individual machines that perform exceptionally well.
I bought my first digital camera yesterday, pretty amazing stuff; if they can bundle a decent lens with 5MP functionality into a phone with tons of memory I might consider it. I suppose it will be some time before that happens, plus, I’m not in the target demographic.
Re iPod: I could see how the extra computations for slowing down books may require a better processor (although I thought slowing down was done by some FFT magic and as you’ll have to do that for decoding MP3s anyway AFAIK, you might be able to combine the two. The ‘energy saving’ might be a lot more interesting, I guess :)
Re camera phones: I don’t think the phone cameras are intended for any serious photography. Just look at the images I posted and compare those with, say, images taken by the original QuickTake camera almost ten years ago. That’s ancient technology and a joke by today’s standards. Yet they look considerably better than what the phone camera does.
My guess is that the phone cameras are just for taking quick’n’dirty snapshots. Say to have your phone display a photo when your friends call or say ‘Hey mom, I’m at the Eiffel tower’. For situations where you wouldn’t have any camera at all usually.
And while resolutions may rise, I doubt that they will be able to get resonable quality out of these. Even little digital cameras that are larger than phones often have a lot of noise and poor optics.