Renaming Apple's sixth generation of iPod the "iPod classic" cemented the device into our cultural history. Beyond mere music or video device, Apple acknowledged that their once humble MP3 player had grown to cultural icon— just like Coca Cola.
But is the new iPod classic really an improvement? Or are we just a bunch of sheep, following one another to the nearest Apple store because Something Better has arrived? Hit the jump for our Frankenreview: the final verdict on the iPod cassic, because it's 10 reviews in one.
For $249, you now get...a 2.7x jump in storage capacity, a 2.14x jump in audio run time, and a 1.43x jump in video play time for the same price.
Turn the classic on, and you'll notice the other hardware change: a new LED-backlit screen. It sports the same 2.5-inch-diagonal size and 320-by-240-pixel resolution as the previous version, but the expanded color reproduction it offers was noticeable in my side-by-side tests with an 80GB video iPod.
We absolutely adore the display, even though it features the same 320x280 resolution despite a 0.5-inch increase in display size from the initial 2.0-inch on the new iPod nano...[the classic is] far more comfortable for videos.
The classic's most impressive design improvement is its dramatically overhauled menu system. One of the most striking changes is a split-screen main menu that displays the selections on the right half of the screen and a picture related to the selection on the left...the end result is quite beautiful.
The one big UI change, of course, is the addition of Cover Flow to the new iPods, and while it certainly does the job...it's definitely slow and jittery—not at all the smooth experience I've come to expect on iTunes, or even the iPhone.
...Cover Flow, that stupid system where you see the album art scrolling around. I personally find this to be a waste of time. As a lot of my digital music does not have cover art, it ends up just being a bunch of blank covers flowing by.
What we see here is that the new sixth generation iPod, when allowing the menu animations to complete...takes, on average, an extra second or two to complete, nearly 45 percent longer than the previous models. While one or two seconds might not seem like a lot, and it's spread out over a few menu transitions, it can become quite annoying for someone who is used to the speed of the previous model.
I suppose I could re-rip most of my music in Apple Lossless. A 160GB player holds 600 CDs' worth of lossless-compressed tunes, more than enough space for my non-eMusic recordings.
For those who worried that the iPhone's recessed headphone jack was a sign of things to come, both the iPod classic and iPod nano have headphone jacks that can be used with third-party headphones without requiring an adapter.
I know it's tough to tell what to believe when you see so many different voiced stacked on top of one another. But if you've used iPods in the past, know that the delays (though slight) may be incredibly frustrating. Boo to Apple on that. You'll have to decide if the annoyance is worth the extra space and battery life. And at the end of the day, it probably is.