Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

The new iPods

Posted on 06 September 2007 25 comments

Article illustration for London Design Festival

When I was crossing my fingers for the much-rumoured and eargerly-awaited new iPod, I never expected the entire product line to be refreshed, and I don’t think I was alone. New Shuffle, new Nano, new iPod (now iPod Classic)… that’s quite an update. But then – just as we’d all sighed a slightly disappointed sigh at the lack of an iPhone-esque, touchscreen iPod – they go and unveil the iPod Touch! Bloody hell… I think I need a lie down.

But wait: after the initial excitement, there are quite a few disappointments here. First off is the new external design of the iPod Classic, which I think looks pretty cheap. The previous generation (and the first generation Nano) had a real class about it – a look inline with the new iMacs, in fact – but I’m really not sure about that bevelled edge. And what on earth is going on with that half-screen bastardisation of the software interface? Why do I need to see my album art when navigating the menu? I’m listening, aren’t I? And although I’m very happy to see the inclusion of Cover Flow… white background?!?

On a personal level, I now have a real dilemma in terms of choice. The reason I was hoping for a new revision to the standard iPod line was so that I could finally get myself an iPod to hold my entire library and thus ditch my cute-but-frustrating Nano. The iPod Classic (now with up to 160GB capacity) solves that problem to an extent, but with the iPod Touch looking so beautiful, do I really want to settle for the ‘consolationPod’ if I’m going to fork out all that money? Not really. So iPod Touch it is, then (despite its much smaller capacity)? No! Because it’s just too much like an iPhone, and I know I’m going to be kicking myself as soon as the iPhone (eventually) hits ol’ Blighty’s shores.

So what should it be (and bear in mind I might wait until I’m over in NYC in November to pick one up at a reduced price)?

  1. iPod Classic (huge capacity but not too happy with either the hardware or software design)
  2. iPod Touch (all the lovliness of an iPhone but with hardly any storage space)
  3. iPhone (the sexiest of them all and with more functionality to shake a stick at, but still falling short on storage (and do I want a first gen one? Many of us Brits were planning on holding out for the second, will power permitting))

Help!

25 comments

  1. Andy Pearson

    Andy Pearson

    06 September 2007 @ 02:54AM #

    Well, the event was certainly fun!

    It’s pretty clear to me, that the main reason for releasing the iPod Touch was to get the touchscreen interface out worldwide, so everyone outside America could satisfy the thirst for touch screen goodness before the eventual release of the iPhone.

    I for one will not give in so easily!

    It’s not going to be too much longer before we see the iPhone over here in the UK, and it makes much more sense to have one of those over the iPod Touch.

    So, I say go for the Classic, and cling on that little bit longer for the iPhone.

  2. Matt Munsey

    Matt Munsey

    06 September 2007 @ 03:28AM #

    I was lucky enough to get my iPhone as a bonus from one of my clients. (that should seal the deal on everybody hating me!)

    I say hold out for the iPhone to hit your side of the pond. I love mine and I will never go back to using anything else. It is truly a joy to use and it makes life just a little easier with the Google Maps and internet access everywhere. It is worth the wait for sure.

  3. Dominik Lenk

    Dominik Lenk

    06 September 2007 @ 03:35AM #

    Touch screen goodness? That will have to wait until microsoft surface comes out.
    About the ipods… Well, I think I have to agree: the design looks a little odd on the photos and 16gb for the ipod touch is also a little on the small side. Especially considering that only ‘pro-podders’ would consider one of these.
    Personally, I am still happy with my 3rd generation ipod, clunky as it is, it does play songs. And more importantly it doesn’t ask me whether I want a pinch of salt with my music. Talking about feature overkill: It should remain a bloody music player.

  4. Al Power

    Al Power

    06 September 2007 @ 03:36AM #

    Hmm tough one. I would wait, as what I’m thinking is that by introducing the iPod touch, Apple is trying to capitalise off the iPhone publicity (and will with that sexy interface) and sell a lot more iPods.

    When this happens, they will be able to buy flash memory at a better price, so we might well see an increase in storage space on iPods for the same price.

    And the late September date (28th?) for the iPod Touch to sell in the UK – isn’t that near the iPhone UK release? I reckon they will bump up the storage space on the iPhone to match.

    My GF wants the classic as she has 30GB of tunes, likes to have them all with her, and isn’t really interested in the whole gadgety multi-touch – she just wants something that plays tunes. They are clever as they are catering for both markets – her for basic needs and the gadget obsessed me. I’d go with a cheaper classic for now, then get the iPhone when they release them here/upgrade them. As Andy said.

    Agree with the cover flow on white thing – yuck.

  5. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    06 September 2007 @ 03:45AM #

    Cheers for your thoughts, guys – advice much appreciated! Something tells me I’m going to take ages making my mind up, though… perhaps I need to hold them in my hand first.

    The Classic’s definitely looking like the most practical, but assuming I do give into my carnal desires and buy an iPhone when they’re finally released here, do I really want to be carrying two bits of gear around with me? I suspect that the iPhone – despite its smaller capacity – would take precedence, purely because of its everything-in-one nature.

    So with that in mind, is it just a case of waiting for the iPhone (i.e: returning to square one)?

  6. Mitch

    Mitch

    06 September 2007 @ 07:42AM #

    As much as I loooove the iPhone, I can’t get it. My whole family is with Verizon, so I can’t switch to the iPhone (not even if it was unlocked – Verizon doesn’t use SIM cards). So my ONLY choice is the iPod touch.

    It has 8 or 16 gigs of storage, and that’s a lot. I mean, my iTunes library has less than 200 songs, so it’s not like I’d ever use up 8 gigs worth of space. But if you need more than that, you’re better off with the iPod classic.

    I mean, why not take all the memory you can get? Sure, the iPod touch looks totally amazingly sexalicious, and the ‘refreshed’ iPods look like crap, but at least it’ll hold all your songs, right?

    Either way, I’d go with the iPod touch. Just because it looks so much cooler. Just like why people buy Starbucks coffee – they may not like it, but it makes them look all suave with their little frappacino.

    @Dominik:
    Microsoft surface??? Riiiiiight. We all know Microsoft is way behind the curve when it comes to sophisticated technology. IE7 still isn’t considered a modern browser.
    Call me an Apple Fanboy, but nothing Microsoft can come up with could ever win over Apple’s multitouch screen.

  7. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    06 September 2007 @ 10:57AM #

    @ Mitch: As you know, I’m an Apple fanboy myself, but I’ve got to agree with Dominik: Microsoft Surface is something pretty special. Check out microsoft.com/surface, because – alhough I hate to say it – Surface is the definition of “sophisticated technology.”

  8. Matt Munsey

    Matt Munsey

    06 September 2007 @ 11:50AM #

    Elliot, before I got my iPhone, I had a Nano as well. While I loved it for the same reasons you described (cute, small, fit into my pocket nicely), having both devices integrated is really a convenience that doesn’t become truly apparent until you have used it for a few days.

    Having all my devices in one, easy to use piece of equipment is a dream come true. I can’t say enough about how well everything comes together. The camera isn’t half bad either. It is pretty much on par with all the early point and shoot digitals, and it far surpasses any camera phone that I have ever used. I have several photos on my Flickr account that show just how well it does work. Here is an example.

  9. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    06 September 2007 @ 04:56PM #

    There is a third option… quickly ebay your nano and get as much as you can for it, then wait a week for the world to realise that the new iPods are around, and quickly snap up a last-gen 80GB black iPod.

    I agree that those ones still look the part compared to these new models. I think the new nano is awful looking… I may be convinced otherwise up close, but I’m no fan of bevels from the front surface. I have a feeling that Johnny Ive isn’t either – the original iPod had a flat front, and it has now alternated twice back and from that design.

    So, there’s my thought on the subject… grab a last-gen iPod 80GB … and wait for the iPhone (2nd gen) in the UK as it will be nearly a year old by then!

  10. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    06 September 2007 @ 04:58PM #

    Also, congratulations on your 42nd blog post! :D

  11. Jonathan E

    Jonathan E

    06 September 2007 @ 06:12PM #

    Elliot, I think I’m going to have to agree with Francis’s comment. Grab one of those 80GB black iPods now, before they’re gone, and wait for the iPhone to arrive.

    For me, I’m waiting for the iPhone to show up in Canada, and that $200/US price drop makes me extremely happy ;) For now, I have a 20GB 4.5 gen iPod that serves me well, and I’ll probably keep it in the car once I get an iPhone. I don’t really need any more storage than that (yet), so while the new iPod lineup definitely possesses a “cool factor”… I really have no need of buying one right now.

  12. Kyle Meyer

    Kyle Meyer

    06 September 2007 @ 07:12PM #

    I’m in the same predicament, but given the web browsing capability of the iPod Touch I’m going to have to pass on the mass storage ability of the iPod Classic, though I agree how tempting it is.

    Apple, why do you always put me in tough spots for decisions? :P

  13. Dickson Fong

    Dickson Fong

    07 September 2007 @ 12:45AM #

    I’m not in the market for a new iPod. I’m still happy with my trusty 30GB 5th-gen.

    Each of the new iPods has their technical pros and cons, and each is subject to personal taste and preference. But has anyone noticed that the iPod touch is one step away from being Apple’s iPDA? I don’t know if it has the capability to open MS Office documents like the iPhone, but if it can, it’d be the PDA that finally integrates everything into one easy-to-use package. Remember the old PDAs with poor “internet” browsers, confusing contacts, cryptic calendars, and lousy music and photo playback? Even though iPods have always had the ability to store contacts and calendar events, they were never really full-blown, front-and-center applications in the grand scheme of the device. The iPod touch seems to take a different approach.

  14. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    07 September 2007 @ 03:20PM #

    Thanks for your comments, everyone – you’ve turned this into a really interesting discussion! For now at least, I think I’m going to hold tight to my cash and wait for the iPhone. I know I’ll want one as soon as they come out and I think I’d be better off spending on the money on something I know I’m going to love (the iPhone) as opposed to something I’m not 100% excited about (the Touch or Classic). If after a few months it makes sense to opt for a bigger storage device, then I’ll go for a Classic when I’ve saved up some more money. As critical as I was of the iPhone’s capacity, 16GB is still going to be a huge improvement over my puny 2GB Nano.

    Wow, have I just made a decision? Quite possibly. Now I just need to decide whether to wait for the iPhone’s official UK release or pick one up (along with a software unlocking crack) for much less money when I visit NYC in November…

    @ Francis: Ah, your magic number 42! Well spotted. :)

    @ Jonathan: I wonder if the iPhone will launch in Europe and Canada at the same time? Rumour has it that they’ll be announcing the release date on the 30th of this month.

    @ Kyle: The web browsing capability is a big temptation for me, which is why I think I’ll wait for the iPhone (despite the ridiculous data charges in the UK). One thing that iPhone has over the Touch is its native Google Maps app, so although you could access the regular site via Safari, I think that – as Maps will be one of my biggest uses of the data service – I’d rather have the device that has it built in.

    @ Dickson: I would say that the iPhone is one step away from the “iPDA”. So I guess that makes the Touch two steps away.

  15. Al Power

    Al Power

    07 September 2007 @ 03:30PM #

    you are in pretty much the same place as me (I have a 4GB nano) and I have come to the same decision! Where did you hear that they were announcing a the release date of the 30th?

    If a European date is not imminent, I’d be tempted to give you a few $$$ when you go out to pick one up for me too!! ;o) …although if they make any amendments for 3G in Europe it might be worth getting it over here (but doubt it due to 3G chip’s power drain and the furor over the $200 price drop already) .

  16. Rob Tull

    Rob Tull

    07 September 2007 @ 07:12PM #

    Personally, I have to say that I’m probably going to up and by an iPod touch when it comes out. The overall class of the device, the huge screen, and the Internet + touch coolness make it an easy decision. I’m happy with my current phone and carrier (T-Mobile), and so have no reason to switch to an iPhone.

    After all, iPod touch does everything I wanted an iPhone for in the first place, and for less money – without a contract. I’ve been living comfortably on a 4GB nano for some time, so the extra space will be a boon.

    And I do agree that the new classic and nano designs have left me really scratching my head. The new nano especially seems to really lack the class I’m used to from Apple.

  17. Andrew Grieve

    Andrew Grieve

    08 September 2007 @ 04:15PM #

    I’m late to the party here.
    I have a blue 4GB 2nd Gen Nano and i love it. 4GB suits me fine, 8GB would be perfect, i don’t mind rotating albums around once in a while. I agree that the silver on the front/metal on the back, bevel design of the new nano/classic is nowhere near as beautiful as the candybar shape of the 2nd gen nano (and the mini!) why change it to something that looks and feels cheaper?.
    I’m also not too keen on the ‘enhanced’ UI. too much going on, makes me think of the ‘enhanced’ dock in leopard. You know the menu UI of the ipod, like the dock in Tiger is perfect, any further work on it and it becomes over-designed.
    I’m tempted by the iPhone of course, purely for having to carry only one thing. That said, i’m a sticker for smallness, i’ll quite happily sacrifice functionality just to have the smallest thing possible in my pocket. The iPhone is still looking a bit chunky to me.
    I don’t use my mobile all that much. So i’m happy to hang on to see if they can release an iPhone with the touch’s size.
    Jeez, we’re never satisfied are we?!

  18. Al Power

    Al Power

    19 September 2007 @ 05:53PM #

    …sooo following on from the launch, to IPhone or not to iPhone? The tariffs and spec iPhone they were going to release was pretty much obviously guessable by all us who have posted here. We also know they are going to sell loads, but are you going to move from whatever network provider you are happy with to O2 (not sure about their customer service rep) and do you think the overall cost is too steep (£900 on cheapest tariff for first 18months with handset cost included).

  19. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    20 September 2007 @ 02:46AM #

    @ Al Power: Francis and I headed to the Apple Store yesterday after my talk and we were obviously very disappointed to hear about the lack of iPhone availibility. However, we did try out the iPod Touch, which we felt was… extremely disapponting! Even after 2 minutes of use, it was clear that it’s the poor man’s iPhone; its lack of support for the native Google Maps app is (in my opinion) a massive let-down, if nothing else. (For the record, we tried Google Maps using Safari and the performance rendered it near-useless. Seriously, try it for yourself!)

    So in answer to your question, I’d love to get an iPhone when they come out, but in spite of all my arguments above, it turns out the main obstacle will be getting out of my existing contract with Orange. It’s something I’m actually rather reluctant to do, given the pretty sweet deal I have at the moment.

    So we shall see!

  20. Al Power

    Al Power

    20 September 2007 @ 12:15PM #

    Nice to hear about the iPod Touch, and interesting about the Google maps performance.

    I’m in the same boat with Orange myself – despite being able to cancel my contract (as I am over the 12 months), I get a much better deal with my current contract (500 mins and 200 txts for £25 – an old unpublished tariff I have remained on for a while) to up my payments by a tenner and get less for my money.

    But a single device is enticing, as I currently carry around a candybar namo, a Nokia e65 and am thinking about a tiny camera as well, as the Nokia’s one is frankly pants.

    As I would have said yesterday “Yaargh, we shall sees if it sinks or swims on launch in Blighty”. Or something like that.

  21. hellomuller

    hellomuller

    04 October 2007 @ 04:48PM #

    I just got my iPod Touch and love it.
    The main reason why I didn’t go for the iPhone is that
    a) I have a decent phone that does what I need it to do
    b) I’m on a pay-as-you-go plan because I just don’t use it that often (£15 can last me 2 months or more)
    c) Therefore I don’t see the need to pay the O2 contract fees on the iPhone (and any ideas of using cracks have proven to be not advisable)

    True, integrated GoogleMaps would’ve been a nice feature on the Touch, but its not a major dissaster (btw using Safari does do the trick anyway if you really need it).
    (My only gripe is that the Safari browser doesn’t have the flash plug-in. Apparently that’ll be fixed).

    As I spend most time in front of my computer, I don’t need to have my complete iTunes library on my iPod. The 16GB drive is more than adequate to have a rotating list of around 2000 songs to keep me happy.

    My 2 cents :)

  22. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    20 November 2007 @ 09:16PM #

    Just in case anyone still cares, I’ve got an update for you: in New York a couple of weeks ago, I abused the exchange rate and bought myself an 80gb Classic (I’m still not a fan of the design but I covered it up with a case and, after all, I decided I needed a backup of my entire music collection); and yesterday, everyone at Carsonified got given an iPhone… with the contract paid for, as well! Thanks, Ryan and Gill!

    So essentially all of my needs have been satisifed: the iPhone will be my day-to-day multi-purpose device, while the Classic can provide me with my entire library on long journeys, as well as acting as a handy backup drive. Sweet.

    One last conundrum: do I hack the iPhone so I can keep with my superb Orange contract? Hmmm…

  23. Al Power

    Al Power

    20 November 2007 @ 09:29PM #

    Nice! In a similar move (but costing me more than you!) I bought my GF an 80GB classic which we use in the house, and got an iPhone plus the cheapest expensive tariff. Decided not to hack as I just wanted something that worked (getting too old to bother tinkering) and plan was the same price as my rip off orange one.

    Slight saving in that work bought me the handset, but I still have to pay the tariff, but at least I can hand the handset back when the 3G one comes out :D (rumourmill => May/June 2008?)

    Overall I really like it, and have used the edge for IMAP gmail with no problems, and surfing in wifi hotspots perfectly.

  24. naisioxerloro

    naisioxerloro

    29 November 2007 @ 01:43PM #

    Hi.
    Good design, who make it?

  25. Alicia

    Alicia

    02 March 2008 @ 03:57PM #

    hi, mind if i comment?
    =D

    i was told to do some research on my school stuffs and i came upon this guy called John maeda?, he kinda did some argument on why we were so infatuated with ipods. He said it was the design of it, how fragile it looked with those glass like covering, that why we treat it really preciously.

    I personally own an ipod too, and i find that kinda true, i buy covers for it, i get gelaskin to wrap it just so it won’t scar, i wonder if the current latest will evoke such feelings in potential buyers.

    Just a piece of my mind =D

    btw, cool site!!!

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