Apple 4G iPod: New iPod Users’ Review | iLounge

Reviews

41

Sligtly OT, but Had to comment:

"Great reference drop with the comment about the TK-421 circuit. I believe that was from a hilarious scene in the film "Boogie Nights." "

I have not seen Boogie Nights, so I don't know the reference in that movie, but the number TK-421 is the name of the Stormtrooper that Luke Skywalker knocks out and takes his uniform from in Star Wars. It was originally supposed to be THX-1138, but it got changed before filming.

iPod Content: Yes, please comment about sound quality and volume.

Posted by Cameron on July 26, 2004 at 11:01 AM (PDT)

42

Several people have complained about the lack of discussion of sound quality in the review and I agree that the omission is conspicuous. At the same time, a review of sound quality is of limited value under the best of circumstances. The only way to know whether you like the way something sounds is to listen to it yourself. There is no substitute, and no review can take the place of your own ears.

Posted by moisture on July 26, 2004 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

43

As an engineer who has designed a lot of audio, I have watched the discussions of sound quality with some amusement. It seems that many confuse "quality" with "quantity" of some modification they desire, such as increased bass, etc.

I used to design car stereo amps and signal processors - in that market, many people want what I consider to be "bad" sound, with lots of bass boost. I could not stand to listen to my own designs, but that is what marketing could sell.

Here is what I have found with my 3G iPod:

1. The output stages of the iPod are quite neutral and even the headphone jack produces excellent noise and fidelity figures (see the Stereophile review, Oct 2003). Response is flat, jitter is very low, and noise is well below the acceptable threshold. Stereophile noted that it performed better than most regular CD players!

2. Record some CD tracks in uncompressed format (Apple Lossless or AIFF or WAV), and load it on the iPod. Attach the iPod to a good quality stereo and compare to the original. In numerous tests, I find them utterly indistinguishable on all sorts of material.

3. AAC, WMA and MP3 are all "lossy" formats that sacrifice some quality for small file size. How much? That varies, with MP3 by far the worst. Generally, 128kbps AAC files sound quite decent and will appear identical to the CD original for most users most of the time. A picky listener can definitely hear the difference, but hey - this is music in your pocket! The iPod will only delivery sound that is as good as the source files, so if you have a lot of 128kbps MP3s they will sound mediocre because that is a mediocre format.

4. I believe that most users who complain about iPod sound are those who wish to apply substantial amounts of EQ to the signal to suit their own taste - big bass boosts, etc. The iPod EQ settings do leave something to be desired, but if you listen to your music without EQ this is not an issue. Heck, my home stereo has no EQ at all, so I don't notice wink

5. The Apple earbuds are decent - certainly some of the better "buds" I have owned - but not high end. The desire for additional EQ fades considerably when better 'phones are used (though I still use my Apples for casual on-the-street use because they are comfy and easy)

The upshot: the iPod is an excellent, neutral audio delivery device. If you want more boom-boom, you might like something else. Or, sit in your car.

Posted by BradPDX in Portland, OR USA on July 26, 2004 at 12:22 PM (PDT)

44

I have owned one of every generation of iPod, and found them all to be great products. Sure, they aren't perfect ... but since I'm not anal, I don't care.
After a very, very happy relationship with a cute 3g (now living in Canada), I was very happy to meet my new 4g (40gig) today. Damn sexy product.
Looks good (no packaging problems here), works fine. I like the wheel. It looks good and works good ... no complaints here. I think I'm going to enjoy this pod as much as all the others. And when the time comes for us to part (5g), so be it.

Oh, and I have never been disappointed with the sound quality of any of my iPods ... I can hear everything I need to hear and want to hear, and I am a musician, so I do need to hear things well.

Nuff said.
Over-and-Out

Posted by DJMac on July 26, 2004 at 12:27 PM (PDT)

45

I have owned one of every generation of iPod, and found them all to be great products. Sure, they aren't perfect ... but since I'm not anal, I don't care.
After a very, very happy relationship with a cute 3g (now living in Canada), I was very happy to meet my new 4g (40gig) today. Damn sexy product.
Looks good (no packaging problems here), works fine. I like the wheel. It looks good and works good ... no complaints here. I think I'm going to enjoy this pod as much as all the others. And when the time comes for us to part (5g), so be it.

Oh, and I have never been disappointed with the sound quality of any of my iPods ... I can hear everything I need to hear and want to hear, and I am a musician, so I do need to hear things well.

Nuff said.
Over-and-Out

Posted by DJMac on July 26, 2004 at 12:40 PM (PDT)

46

I have owned one of every generation of iPod, and found them all to be great products. Sure, they aren't perfect ... but since I'm not anal, I don't care.
After a very, very happy relationship with a cute 3g (now living in Canada), I was very happy to meet my new 4g (40gig) today. Damn sexy product.
Looks good (no packaging problems here), works fine. I like the wheel. It looks good and works good ... no complaints here. I think I'm going to enjoy this pod as much as all the others. And when the time comes for us to part (5g), so be it.

Oh, and I have never been disappointed with the sound quality of any of my iPods ... I can hear everything I need to hear and want to hear, and I am a musician, so I do need to hear things well.

Nuff said.
Over-and-Out

Posted by DJMac on July 26, 2004 at 12:44 PM (PDT)

47

A question to those who owned both 3G and 4G ipod: Can you use
3G's dock and AC adapter with 4G? I lost my 3G ipod but the dock and
AC adpter still there, and I'm ordering a 4G. It'll be some relief from my loss if I can continue use these accessories.


Posted by lounger101 on July 26, 2004 at 6:25 PM (PDT)

48

To "ipod cases" dude: My iPod G4 is getting here in a week, and i live in Christchurch, so I suppose it will get to the North Island a bit sooner.

Dam, i cant wait for it to get here!!!!

Posted by eltotoX on July 26, 2004 at 7:13 PM (PDT)

49

I have been using my 4G iPod (my first iPod) for about a week now and can say I have been extremely impressed. I bought it to consolidate my 1200 songs (some MP3, some on CD's) into one small package that still offered good sound quality.

I ripped most of my CD's in the new Apple Lossless format, they sound excellent on the iPod. The only downside is they take up a ton of space, 400-500 megs per CD.

I have not even come close to the 12 hour battery life claim. I can get maybe 5-6 hours MAX (with the backlight off). The only thing I am thinking is causing the high drain is because I use my iPod at work and it goes through numerous power down cycles throughout the day (every 20-30 minutes). I am in the process of running the battery completely dead to see if that helps play time at all.

The only problem I have had is that when synching with iTunes it will finish and be in a state where it can be undocked without ejecting. However if left in the dock to charge it will eventually go back to the "Do Not Disconnect" screen despite not synching with iTunes, iCal or Address Book. It still can be ejected so its not a real big deal.





Posted by Adam on July 26, 2004 at 9:44 PM (PDT)

50

Re: Sound Quality

I'm still waiting for my 40Gb 4G iPod over here (UK), but with regards to the comments about inferior sound quality produced by the iPods, I thought it worth noting that the magazine What Hi-Fi? has consistently rated the iPod ahead of it's rivals; not only in terms of acoustics and reproduction, but in all other facets except headphones (which are pretty poor). I happen to agree with this conclusion, having listened to the alternatives. Provided you purchase a pair of decent headphones (B&O A8's are my weapons of choice) I don't think there is a better product out there. Yet.

Posted by Mnemonick in UK on July 26, 2004 at 11:15 PM (PDT)

51

hey, i'm thinking of buying the 4g ipod, only thing that really bothers me is this question: can i use the ipod as an external HD? like the iriver for example, when i connect it to the usb will it show in my computer as an extra drive or what?

Posted by Avatar on July 27, 2004 at 5:37 AM (PDT)

52

To Adam -

The reason your 4G iPod is only running about 5 hours per charge is your use of the Apple Lossless Codec. The reason is simple:

The iPod achieves its battery life primarily by minimal use of the power-hungry hard disk. To accomplish this, it employs buffer memory (about 28MB) in which to load music. The music you hear is read from this buffer while the hard disk sleeps.

So how much music fits in the 28MB? Well, if you use 128kbps AAC files, then about 35 minutes worth. Ergo, the hard drive only spins every 35 minutes and presto! 12 hours of playtime.

But if you use very large file formats like Apple Lossless, the 28MB buffer can only hold about 6 minutes worth of music, and thus the hard drive must spin much more frequently to keep the buffer filled. Ergo - short battery life.

Thus you are allowed some tradeoffs - sheer audio performance versus battery life. Depending upon your pattern of use, one or the other may best suit you.

Me? I'm less fussy about my portable music, and so I use 128kbps AAC for almost everything except really great recordings.

Posted by BradPDX in Portland, OR USA on July 27, 2004 at 7:29 AM (PDT)

53

i think they should have thought about making the 4 g before the 3g beucase the 4 g looks kinda cheap while the 3g should be the one that has better features. (charge with usb two) i think releasing the 4g is just another way for apple make up for the fact that the battery for 3g ony last 18 months and it's very expensive. so they just thought hey, just launch a new 20 g model with cheaper looks and exclude the holder and the remote and the dock so we can make more profit if people buy them seperately

Posted by tonpai on July 27, 2004 at 9:46 AM (PDT)

54

You forget to mention that most (all, that I've seen) of the iPod's knock-offs are really very ugly and hefty, even if the numbers on paper don't sound like it. I owned a Dell DJ briefly and though it was only fractionally bigger than the iPod by measurement, it felt like a brick. I returned it and bought the 20GB 3g.

Posted by Cole on July 27, 2004 at 12:01 PM (PDT)

55

I got my 4g to replace my 3g which I had for about a year. I loved my 3g and like the 4g even more. The simple design without those four buttons from the 3g is great. I couldn't get those 3g buttons to respond half the time.

My point though - Are any cases available? Anyone know when they will be out? I am paranoid carrying this 4g around!

Thanks!

Posted by Paul on July 27, 2004 at 2:41 PM (PDT)

56

You are only getting 5-6 hours on your 4G iPod cuz of the size of your songs (i.e. Lossless Format eats up battery power BIGTIME.) Apple recommends an average track size of around 9MB (i.e. AAC 160 kbps should do the trick for your average song.)

Posted by serkoart in Manhattan on July 27, 2004 at 5:16 PM (PDT)

57

I think the grey clickwheel looks nice, dunno whatss o ugly about it :/.

Posted by Adam on July 28, 2004 at 6:05 AM (PDT)

58

So, I got my 20gig 4G today and I am really happy with it. It's great in Design and figuring out how it works is a no-brainer. I found your review very help in deciding whether to go for a 3G with Dock, remote, etc. or go for a 4G. I am certain picking the 4G was the right decision.

Posted by Christoph on July 28, 2004 at 1:21 PM (PDT)

59

Hey DJ. I just read your post

"the ipod languishes at the botom of the portable music player league, with average build and audio quality, and near to no format support. even on the fourth generation, it still lacks functions that competing players have had for years, including gapless playback, radio playback, recording, a PROPER equaliser, support for codecs such as ogg vorbis; flac & wma"

Its the best build quality by far. It has the best audio codec as shown by tests, and unless you have audiophile ears you would have to be desperate for a putdown to say the iPod has low audio quality. I agree on the gapless playback, although it has only once been an issue for me. a Proper equaliser; maybe but who cares? All those codecs are sideline at best and with the exception of FLAC are poor quality.

Finally, anyone who wants a radio for a "full featured player" has got to be mad. Who on early would buy a 10,000 song player only to go and listen to music they dont want enough to already own, over poor quality radio. And on top of that radio is an unpleasant, ad drenched medium which belongs in the stone age.

Posted by DrTim on July 28, 2004 at 1:22 PM (PDT)

60

iPod v Zen

I have been a Zen & XP user for 2 years now. The day the press release came out announcing the 12 hr battery and $400 price tag were enough to convert me.

I was in the market for the Zen Touch, which was, at the time, $270. Byte for byte, iPod was A BETTER VALUE. I still stand by Zen for actual sound reproduction quality, which is backed up by the tech specs. That aside, I'm a iPodder now.

The unit feels solid yet elegant in the hand, though the shininess of the backing is giving me OCD. The design is impeccable. The interface is clean, although I wish that the "Now Playing" link was at the top. While people say that the interface is "intuitive," for converts and early adopter veterans, it takes a little to unlearn the earlier interfaces.

The only "flaw" is the cheap earbuds that accompany the iPod. But then again, all units ship with lousy cans anyway. I wish a carrying case was free; guess where the price drop came from.

In the interest of disclosure, I'm no fan of "The Cult of Mac" yet I am overwhelmingly impressed by the iPod. I used to recommend the Zen over the iPod because of the value and quality, but THE 4thG iPod IS A BETTER VALUE AND HIGHER QUALITY THAN THE ZEN (emphasis intended).

Posted by Matt from NYC on July 28, 2004 at 3:36 PM (PDT)

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