Unless I told you, which I would freely do upon request, you would never know what kind of music I enjoy--at least, not be glancing through my iPod. You might find a few properly-titled playlists: Bible, Audiobooks, Worship Music, etc. but after that, you’d be entangled in numbers. Through much careful research, you might learn that I am deeply drawn to a song titled IDM05114 and that KGM00117 has an important place in my heart. You might not realize that IDM05114 signifies the following: “Integrity Music, producer; Don Moen, artist; Album no. 51 in the collection; Track 14; song, “Like Eagles”.” KGM00117 has a similar meaning: “Keith Green Music; CD No. 1; Track 17; Song: “Create in Me”.”
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Why do I insert codes for each and every media file on my iPod? Ah, the eccentricities of life… I am <a><a><a>totally blind and don’t particularly appreciate the thought of my songs being tossed about according to title. The coding system allows everything to remain somewhat stationary, moving according to a set pattern. Conventional track names would be all right if I had less than a hundred albums, but life is not so simple. I am the proud owner of thirty-three audio books, ten sermon series, twenty-six spoken recordings from friends and family, and 625 music albums! Then, of course, there are the vinyl’s I will be converting to MP3… My efforts at consolidation never involve actually deleting items, but reducing everything to 128 KBPS.
Of course, this all equates to quite a bit of media--44.3 GB, soon to be 50, 80, 100… There must be a way to house all of this harp, flute, and piano delight. Of course, my detractors are ready with an answer: “Use a sleek, attractive 8 GB iPod with all the bells and whistles--not forgetting the ultra-wondermous touch screen, mind you!--and just uncheck the songs you don’t want.” The songs I don’t want? Explain, please. I have never encountered that elusive entity. Besides, just unchecking 36 GB’s worth of music would be murder, plain and simple. I refuse to kill a music collection, in the knowledge that one song cannot survive without all others. Why, if you hear one beautiful composition, don’t you want to search for songs--related or otherwise--that fit the tone of the original?
As for a touch screen, whyever would I invest money into something so desperately sensitive? And yes, I do mean “desperately”. If those machines could talk, they would surely despair at not serving one purpose and one purpose only. When I purchased my portable music device two years ago, my goal was that it play music, the occasional music video, and books from Audible.com. I did not need it to make telephone calls, check ratings on my reviews, write my resumes, and make daily cups of afternoon tea after first estimating exactly how many persons would be joining me for the light meal. Well, maybe the tea would have been nice--though it would have to be chai...
My solution came in the form of the iPod Classic, 6th Generation, 120 GB. Ah, what a lovely place for an unabridged music collection to reside! The iPod usually costs $200, which I would gladly have spent on something that I hope will last for several years. However, the Apple store was having a sale, so I bought the iPod for $150. Engraving was free, as it is with all new iPods, so I took full advantage of that feature. If you’re curious, I used the minute amount of space provided to proclaim: “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psalm 45:1). This serves two purposes<a><a>—I am constantly put in mind of the Psalms, and most of what I write is either inspired by a very precious audiobook or cherished music.
The iPod comes in either silver or black. This, of course, is a personal preference, but I bought mine in black. Just as good writers should show rather than telling, good iPods must show their musical prowess rather than allowing fancy color choices to demonstrate the player’s overall attractiveness. Besides, that’s what engraving and cases are for.
The iPod Classic measures 2.4 x 0.42 x 4.1 inches. In other words, it is about the size of a credit card and about the thickness of those wads of cash you wish you could carry around but usually can’t. It weighs about as much as a traditional cell phone or a medium-sized bottle of perfume. Or, if you want to be technical and… um… interesting in a dry sort of way, it weighs 4.9 ounces. In other words, this iPod Classic is larger than most of the 2, 4, and 8 GB models. Those are designed to be downright diminutive in the hopes that the adjectives “small”, “convenient”, and “cute” will sell. While the idea of a smaller iPod being more portable is understandable, I’m not sure it’s altogether accurate. Unless you’re carrying this in an evening bag, and perhaps even then, the larger iPod Classic is not going to consume all possible space. I know you want an iPod Nano or Shuffle in the house; give it to your ten-year-old, who hasn’t amassed nearly as much music as you have, noble reader.
Too, there is the question of portability gone awry. Unless it is in a rather bulky case, I have a tendency to lose my iPod despite its comparative bulk. Imagine the same problem with a Shuffle or Nano! You could be searching for hours, only at long last to recover 4 GB of music when, all along, you could have enjoyed 111.5.
This brings me to the iPod’s inward mechanics. A 120 GB iPod does not contain that exact amount of usable storage. Rather, my iPod consistently displays its capacity as 111.5 GB. This is because Apple converts storage based on a decimal system, but the computer does not. Hence, the product is advertised as having a greater capacity than it does. Do I lament the loss of 8.5 GB? I certainly do. Does it truly affect my music library? Not at this time. When it does, I’ll just go out and buy a 160 or 180 GB device!
What does the capacity mean for you as a consumer? Apple indicates that this iPod can hold up to thirty thousand songs, twenty-five thousand photos, or 150 hours of video. Can you imagine an iPod with only thousands of photos on it? Entertaining prospects… Anyway, the statistics are based on the assumption of a four-minute average for songs. I guess that eliminates any ten-minute spontaneous pieces I insist on keeping! The actual amount of media your iPod can hold will depend on what combination of music, video, and photos you’re storing.
And now for the interesting part—interesting for me because I enjoy writing it, and interesting for you because you will almost certainly find information that I have neglected to include. Won’t that be fun? Like all iPod Classics, this model is equipped with a click wheel. Essentially, this is a round wheel sensitive to touch. Lightly running the finger along the wheel will display artwork, cycle through songs, adjust the volume, etc. depending upon the task being performed. Various points on the wheel may also be pressed in order to perform certain functions. Pressing the bottom of the wheel pauses the iPod, the top of the wheel returns the device to the previous menu, and the left and right of the MP3 player skip to the previous or next song. In the center of the click wheel is a round button—this one not sensitive to touch. This is the Select button and is simply used to confirm menu and son selections, to toggle among shuffle modes, and to skip forward or backward within a song or music video. To perform the latter function, you would need only press the Select button while playing a song, then gently use the click wheel to move within the media.
The entire setup is relatively intuitive—not quite so simple that your grandmother could use it—and, trust me, I speak from personal experience!—but certainly more accessible than a touch screen. While the click wheel is sensitive to touch, the lock switch on the top of the iPod prevents accidental selection, and the wheel remains relatively stationary when touched by objects other than the fingertips. So well has Apple designed the click wheel that it does not work particularly well when the iPod is in a protective case. I actually had to buy a case that left the click wheel exposed. While other customers have complained of the wheel sticking or being otherwise uncooperative, I have found the level of sensitivity perfect for my needs—not so sensitive that I can’t select the correct item, but not so unresponsive that I can’t toggle through menus.
The term “click wheel” is somewhat of a misnomer. True, the factory settings allow for the wheel and Select buttons to click as each item is passed or selected. However, because many patrons find this constant auditory feedback inconvenient, the iPod does have the option to turn the clicking feature off. Personally, I would never resort to this feature. If I can neither hear the clicking nor see the song titles, how will I ever know that I’m about to listen to? Surprises are best reserved for special occasions.
The iPod also has settings for various languages, equalizer, sound check, and screen brightness. Advice—and these should be your constant settings: Language: English, French, or Joy. Equalizer: Piano; I believe that that lovely setting would enhance even rap music. Sound Check: Always on. This one is meant sincerely; the sound check feature automatically adjusts your media to play at the same volume. Because albums are recorded at different volumes, this feature is tremendously useful. Brightness: You want that screen as dimly-lit as possible without being completely dark—unless, of course, you’re viewing video content using this nice color screen. It saves exponentially on battery life—and, really, if you need a bit of extra light, that’s what a lamp is for.
Speaking of battery life, Apple’s advertisements are relatively accurate. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to assess the claim regarding six hours of video, I can say that thirty-six hours of music playback is correct. More than once, I have used my iPod for twenty-four hours, only to realize that I really ought to charge it. Then, of course, I didn’t get around to it… and it just kept right on serenading me! I am quite impressed with the iPod’s battery life.
Like all iPods, this one connects to the computer using the included USB chord. Once it is connected, you may download music to it using the free iTunes software. While I choose to download my entire music collection, one may sync only certain songs, certain playlists, etc. Alternatively, the iPod itself can be used as a hard drive of sorts to transfer libraries music among computers. I have only done this once, but found it a dichotomous process--a painless strategy, but a tedious downloading process. If you are only transferring music, and if your library is already organized, the journey from computer to iPod is a relatively quick one; depending on your computer, it takes anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes.
Speaking of compatibility, the 6th Generation iPod Classic is compatible with both Windows and Mac. I am currently using mine with Windows 7, but my former operating system was Windows XP. While Windows 7 was a bit faster, it did not effect the overall functioning of the device. This I will say: You must be running iTunes 8.0 or higher. If you are using jTunes or another program designed to interact with iTunes, you will want to make sure that all software is either up-to-date or as compatible with iTunes 8.0 as possible. When I first purchased this iPod, compatibility was actually a problem for me. In order to upgrade even to 8.0, I had quite the little disagreement with myself about the other programs I was running in cooperation with iTunes. Something to consider…
The iPod itself is navigable through a series of menus. First, users may use the list view or cycle through albums by viewing artwork. Keep in mind, any album artwork you download will take up extra space. Listeners may sort by artists, albums, genres, etc. or create playlists encompassing their favorite songs. Programmed into this iPod are lists for music, movies (including brief music videos), books, podcasts, TV shows, pictures, iTunes U (podcasts from various educational institutions), games, etc. Somewhere in the depths of this machine’s workings are a calendar and other PDA accessories, but I’m afraid lack of experience prohibits me from commenting on their ease of use. The iPod is generally simple; you’ll find settings in the Settings menu, not under Playlists. Some MP3 players have a problem with that, you know…
Two important features present in this iPod but not in previous models are the single-click shuffling feature and Genius. In previous models, it was necessary to navigate through a series of menus in order to shuffle songs or albums. With this iPod, you need only press the center Select button three times and—voila!—the shuffle setting appears. Brilliant! I’m not sure what I would do without this feature—go mad? Eat an entire pan of brownies? Get myself into debt by purchasing every album the iTunes Store carries?
On the other hand, Genius is not a feature with which I have had much experience. Theoretically, this feature finds songs that go well together based on artists, ratings, albums that other customers purchased along with your favorite music, etc. However, my song organization is such that I don’t find Genius terribly accurate. Others will find this feature much more useful than I have.
While we’re on the iPod Classic plays AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV files—essentially, anything in your music collection. Supported video formats include : H.264, MPEG-4. As for photos, your choices are : JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PSD (Mac only), and PNG. This is more than enough to satisfy any media need. Personally, I like to convert my music to M4A because it seems to take up less space. Furthermore, I make sure that all CDs import at 128 KBPS. Although content from the iTunes Store downloads at 256 KBPS, you can convert it to a lower bit rate later. The sound quality may not be as good, but the space you save is worth it.
Ah, sound quality. The iPod may be connected to headphones or speakers using a dual connector cable. I generally use a docking station that connects to the iPod’s battery port. That way, the iPod charges while I enjoy the passionate piano playing of Keith Green. I understand that newer models are equipped with tiny speakers, but this one must be connected to an outside source. Depending on the speakers and file quality, the sound is excellent. My only qualm lies with the volume control itself. It is impossible to get this iPod to play more quietly than a soft conversation. There are times when I would like to turn it down until it becomes a soft hum, but ‘tis not to be.
This I can say for the iPod: It is highly durable. While Apple does not recommend running with it, it has survived plenty of jostling in my purse and—I hate to admit it—has even sustained being dropped at least twice. The second time this happened, I noted that some of my songs were cut off in the middle, only playing the first few seconds or two minutes of the song before beginning to play the next song. If you drop your iPod and this happens, don’t panic immediately, as I did. Import the song into Audacity, then re-import it into iTunes and sync it with your iPod. For some reason, simply re-importing it into iTunes doesn’t work; Audacity must be involved in the process. Just know that there is a way to fix this without either buying a new iPod or restoring it to factory settings.
I do believe that this review has reached or exceeded the size of my music collection. Therefore, may I end on this note? The iPod Classic may not be the most attractive, multi-functional, modern model, but it is among the most versatile as far as media and capacity are concerned. For what are you waiting? Don’t you know it’s time to be on eBay and at the iTunes Store simultaneously, at this very moment?
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Amount Paid (US$): 149.99
Recommended for: Music Lovers - High Capacity Storage for an Entire Album Collection