Apple iPod photo review

Price when reviewed

The iPod photo is Apple’s attempt to widen its digital music player’s appeal in the face of increasing competition. It comes in 40GB and 60GB capacities and can potentially store up to 15,000 4-megapixel images.

Apple iPod photo review

At first sight, there’s nothing to set the iPod photo apart from any other iPod, but turn it on and the most significant difference becomes immediately apparent. The iPod photo’s display is a bright, crisp 65,000-colour screen, which makes the monochrome display of older models seem dull and outdated. The menus have also been given a new typeface, which not only looks good but is easy to read too. We found games such as Solitaire much more fun in colour than they ever were in monochrome.

The reason for the colour screen is the key new feature of displaying photographs. Viewing individual images and slide shows works surprisingly well, given that the screen is only 2in in size. Using the ClickWheel to select photos is easy, and you can select a playlist as a soundtrack to your slide show. Plus there’s a composite audio and video cable supplied so you can plug the iPod into any television or projector.

Unfortunately, getting photos onto the iPod is much more difficult. The only way to view photos on the device is to synchronise them with iTunes. Here, you can choose to copy across slide shows created in Photoshop Elements 3, Photoshop Album, or folders of images on your PC’s hard disk. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. You can’t plug in a digital camera and transfer pictures directly, for example. Given that both the iPod photo and nearly every digital camera on the market has a USB connection, this is a frustrating omission. The iPod photo would seem like the ideal device for digital photographers needing a way of backing up and managing images in the field. But perhaps the biggest problem is the continued lack of support for WMA files; this alone will put off many.

Fortunately, battery life is better: we found it lasted for 17 hours, two more than even Apple claims. But the overwhelming impression is of a missed opportunity. The iPod photo has all the features and style we expect, but neither the colour screen or the ability to display photos is worth the £60 premium of the 40GB model when compared to the regular iPod.

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