Video iPod: One Month Later

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A couple of years ago, as some of the more Apple obsessed among you may recall, Steve Jobs, when queried on the possibility of an iPod with video capabilities, was quite dismissive. And truth be known, I was more or less in full agreement. Video, to me, was not the use case that audio was simply b/c it required your full attention, and was therefore unsuitable for everyday scenarios such as commuting. Further, the few people that I observed on planes and otherwise with video capable devices from the likes of Archos seemed exquisitely uncomfortable after about 5 minutes of holding the player in a viewable position.

As everyone is probably aware by now, however, Jobs and Apple reversed course at some point since those comments (assuming, of course, that they were genuine to begin with), choosing some time ago to issue a new generation of video iPods. As some of you might be aware, I was the lucky recipient of one these devices at Christmas time, courtesy of my younger brother. At the time, I was more excited about tripling my storage capacity in less than a third the form factor than I was the video. The possibility of using the iPod as a portable TV had very limited appeal, all the more so since I watch maybe two shows at most (apart from my Tivo watchlists that record anything with ‘shark’ or ‘bear’ in it).

Well, after a month of fairly heavy usage, let me state for the record that I was wrong – dead wrong. It’s not so much that I’m using the video features round the clock – I’m not – but there are more use cases than I’d originally suspected. My heavy travel schedule, for example, has given me ample opportunity to explore the virtues of offline video – and I’ve frankly been shocked at how useful the thing has been in the gym. Not so much for weights and such, but you wouldn’t believe how quickly a half hour on the stationary bike goes by when you’re watching TV – and not the same crappy TV everyone’s watching, but the shows you like – with no commercials.

All of this of course begs the question, what am I watching? Well, while I get a lot of flak for it from friends and family, I’m totally addicted to the new Battlestar Gallactica. There, I admitted it. I was never into Star Trek or any of the other scifi-ish shows – unless you count the X-Files – but I’m completely hooked. I’m not alone – ThinGuy‘s a fan as well. In future, I’ll see about formatting and loading up some old Simpsons and Family Guy videos I have, but at present I’m content with what I’ve got.

Anyway, if you get the chance to acquire a video iPod, the anti-mobile guy (me) gives it two thumbs up.


  1. Ha! Being a fan of this current Battlestar Galactica is nothing to be ashamed of – it's just great storytelling, sci-fi setting aside. Also, interesting take on the video iPod, I'm still in the "I doubt i'd use it" camp, but this has at least opened my eyes a little bit. Thanks.

  2. Ditto on Battlestar Gallactica. I didn't pay it much attention because the 70s version was so terrible (not that I ever really watched it). I had probably heard some good buzz but among genre fans there's so much on the Sci-Fi channel that people rave about that's mediocre at best. But the way it's going, there's at least an argument to be made that BG is the best SF show ever. I like watching TV when I exercise as well (I have a TV w DVD player next to my rowing machine at home and I watch 30min episodes of various shows from Netflix.) Not at all sure if the Video iPod would work as well, but perhaps it's better than nothing.

  3. If you are interested at all, there is a service that gives out free ipod videos. I've gotten a nano already from them, and now I'm going for the big one. Just go to this link http://ipods.freepay.com/?r=26039651 and sign up. You can easily cancel anything you sign up for by paying no more than a dollar. Good Luck

  4. Alan: i agree, it's just that i get so much flak for it – either b/c they only remember the original or b/c it's on SciFi network. no matter, i'm a happy viewer.

    Gordon: as indicated above, couldn't agree more. i was very interested to see it named as Time's best TV show, and am of the opinion that it was deserving of that label. re: the ipod versus TV deal, the TV will win hands down i think, but there's also the plane, etc to think about.

  5. If you're into Family Guy, you oughta check out Futurama as well. They used to play back-to-back on Adult Swim.

  6. re: Video ipod on plane. My approach is to have a really small laptop (Fujitsu P5000 series). It has a wide aspect ratio screen and is small enough to open even in coach (albeit better with JetBlue seat pitch than United or American). I rent TV series from Netflix and rip them to my laptop (or load TV episodes w Tivo To Go).

    SPeaking of Tivo again. My initial inclination would also have been to say that Tivo was just an application running on top of Linux. However, at the conference either Eben or RMS specifically cited TiVo as a DRM example (with at least the implication that this was a usage of Linux that wouldn't be permitted under GPLv3).

  7. Here is an intersting blog that talks about an iPod headset. Have you guys have heard of this yet?

  8. I'm addicted to the video i-pod now also. don't fret the battlestar gallactica issue, i've been a trekkie for 30 years and brush off the comments like dust. check out the snl packages by comedian. I just downloaded John Belushi for my next trip.

    BTW, glad your blogging again in volume, that was a long break.

  9. Donnie: funny you should mention that, as i'm an Adult Swim addict. Futurama i do enjoy – not as much as Simpsons/Family Guy, but still good – i just don't have any videos of that port. should get some tho – Godfellas is comedy.

    Gordon: interesting – what are you ripping DVD's with, if i may ask?

    pat: no, haven't seen that. cool, if weird.

    john: been meaning to check out the SNL clips – will do that before my next trip. thx for the tip.

  10. I use DVD Decryptor. I also often shrink them with DVD Shrink afterwards if I get around to it. The battery life is a lot better playing the movie from the hard disk (plus I can use my second modular bay battery that way as well). And, yes, this is another example of DRM getting in the way of legitimate use–although, in this case, the DRM (CSS) is easy enough to get around.

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