(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

The Steve Jobs Diet (Or: The Video iPod Has Landed)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The nano made the old mini look obsolete and the just announced Video iPod makes all of its top-range ancestors look rather fat! The Steve Jobs Diet (only Apples!) has decreased the size of even the 60Gb model well below the size of even the last click-wheel model. The big change, though, is the oft-rumoured video capabilities. The new iPod has a larger screen (specs here) and video capability ... or, at least, some video. that's right, after the Steve Jobs diet, you have only see in Apple-developed video formats:
Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 768 Kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per sec., Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Simple Profile with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats. (Upgradable firmware enables support for future video formats.)
Supporting generic mp3s was the best idea Apple had when desiging the iPods; not supporting basic mpeg (and even divx) seems to be limiting the iPod Video's appeal and utility. Of course, I suspect it might be the provocation needed for some clever AppleHacker to get some divx enabling firmware out there!

However, the new iTunes does more than just let you download music videos! As Engadget note (straight from Steve Jobs' mouth):
And so today we?re introducing iTunes 6. We?ve been busy!

1. Gifting. This has been the most requested feature. You can gift (i.e. buy) iTunes songs for someone else by song, album, or playlist.
2. Customer reviews.
3. Just for You. Personalized recommendations. We?re going to be recommending albums and singles based on what you?ve bought before. It?s going to be a beta, we?d like your feedback on it.
4. Video. If we?re going to be able to play video on the iPod we?re going to need away to buy video. Starting today we have 2,000 music videos for sale.

What do they cost? $1.99 [US] each. But we didn?t stop there; we?re adding some other videos you can buy. Pixar is putting up six of their award-winning short videos. $1.99 each. We are downloading videos 320 x 240, which is the native resolution of the iPod. They?re about the size of six songs. All songs are governed by FairPlay. You can play them on up to five computers. They?re not rentals. You own them ? they never time out. [...]

We have one more thing today, a pretty big thing. We?re announcing one more thing that you can buy off the iTunes store today, and that is TV shows. What?s the number one show on TV? What?s the second? Lost. And who has these shows? ABC. [...] Lost, Desperate Housewives, Night Stalker, That?s So Raven, The Suite Life. Yes, you can buy current episodes, and you can buy them the day after they are broadcast. They?re ad free so you don?t need to fast forward through the commercials, 320 x 240 again. An hour show is about the size of five albums. Depending on your speed it?s about 10-20 minute to download an episode. What are they going to cost? $1.99 an episode for current season and past seasons. We have free previews on every episode.

Thanks everyone!
This might be that moment ... when TV made the biggest leap since VCRs (or TIVO) to being a real, accessible online resource. TV shows for $1.99 US? I think it's time to get a US credit card! It'll be interesting to see how the national/regional boundaries are enforced now! (Oh, yeah, and you can plug the video iPod into your TV for a better viewing experience ... an excellent move by Apple!).

The Australian pricing: 30Gb A$ 449.00 / 60Gb A$ 598.00 is quite reasonable, so expect a lot of Christmas requests parents of the 'net generation!

[X] Engadget: Steve Jobs' entire "One More Thing...." presentation.
[X] MAKE Blog: Creating Video for iPod
[X] Tom Raftery's: Apple introduces new iMac (yep, there's a new G5 as well!)
[X] NYTimes, 'Apple Introduces iPod That Plays Videos': "In endorsing handheld video, Mr. Jobs made an 180-degree about-face, reversing his criticism of the low-quality video that is available on portable, low-resolution devices. For the past two years he has been consistently critical of both the technology and the sociology of portable video - the idea that people will use the technology to watch videos in public places where they are engaged in other tasks."
[X] Griffin have a Video iPod & Nano iTrip ready to go!
[X] Flickr: iTunes 6.0 video screenshot.
[X] Techdirt: "Apple Now Selling Expensive, Restricted TV Shows Too".

Update (13 Oct 2005, 11.45): Just reading up on the new iMac G5 ... this thing is amazing. Will I finally buy a Mac? Actually, with the fantastic new Front Row setup, the G5 is more like a brilliant MediaCentre and computer! I think Steve Jobs may have won me over...

Update 2 (13 Oct 2005, 5.15pm): Boing Boing are pointing out that the video iPod (and G5?) have more DRM/more crap-o copy-blocking issues, but they also point to a rather useful HOWTO for ripping DVDs for Mac & iPod Video viewing (if the batteries in the iPod video last long enough for a full film).

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At 10/13/2005 11:40:00 am, Blogger John Lynch said...

When you plug it into the tv, does it look like a normal tv show? Or does it look extra small? Or is it enlarged, but with quality loss?

Or do you have no idea? (I can't remember if you got one or not)

At 10/13/2005 11:44:00 am, Blogger Tama said...

John, no, I don't have one! (I should be so lucky!)

However, from what I've read it's a standard TV-out so it should enlarge to TV screen size (but that may depend on the size of the actual video file; a 320x240 looks crappy if you stretch it even to standard def size).

At 10/13/2005 11:49:00 am, Blogger John Lynch said...

oooh. I almost forgot. On the issue of pricing, this will be much more acceptable over the DVDs. DVDs can range from $80 to $140. The price of buying them off Itunes will be approximately $60 - $80 (AU). So everytime you're going to save money (or at the very least break even). For someone who doesn't really care about all the DVD extra's they throw on, this is definitely a good buy (assuming Itunes is offering it in DVD quality).

At 10/13/2005 02:56:00 pm, Anonymous Inquisitor said...

Size ought to matter when it matters. But if it still matters where it does not matter in any significant way that matters, then it is indicative of mind of matter but little substance.

At 10/13/2005 03:41:00 pm, Blogger Tama said...

Inquisitor, that is the most circular logic I've heard all day! :P


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