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MP3 Players

Aftermath: One week with the new iPod classic

We report on our thoughts and feelings on the iPod classic after using it as our main audio player for a week. There's good and bad, though that floating album art is troublesome...

It's been just over a week since I bought a brand-new 160GB iPod classic. Despite my initial frenzy of excitement about seeing Cover Flow in my hand, there are a few notable problems with Apple's latest model.

The most irritating issue is the navigation system, which can take around three seconds to load. Why? Album art floats on the right-hand side of the menu and must be loaded from the hard disk before the menu is displayed. Hard disks need to spin up, the read head must seek the location of whatever album art is going to be displayed and subsequently load into the player's RAM. This whole sequence of events takes too long and can slow navigation of main menus significantly enough to annoy. And you can't turn it off.

Another issue concerns video playback: if you skip to the end of, say, a video podcast, in order to let iTunes know you've watched it and that it should automatically be deleted, playback simply continues to play from the position it was at before you started skipping forwards. The remedy here is to skip roughly to the last 10 seconds and let it play out naturally. Frustrating.

However, these issues are surely rectifiable with firmware updates, which Apple has a tendency to release promptly after acknowledging hardware issues.

In real-world usage, we went five days without needing to plug it in for more juice. We listened to loads of music, jacked the 'Pod into a stereo system, watched a few videos on train journeys and kept up-to-date with podcasts. Whether or not we got 40 hours of usage in total, as Apple claims we should (though that doesn't include video playback), remains to be seen in our lab tests.

Our full review of the iPod classic will be up later today, so be sure to check back for the full and complete lowdown. -Nate Lanxon