I love the 5G iPod (so far)

I originally selected the 30Gb model, because it’s so incredibly slim and sexy. But then I got nervous that it wouldn’t be enough once I started loading videos onto it, and then I read that the 60Gb model has 20 hours of battery life as opposed to the 30Gb’s 14.

Finally, I noticed that my iPod screen had developed a very minor but very noticeable scratch (warning - the screen is VERY “soft” and scratches easily. Perhaps no more easily than screens on the old non-Photo models, but here the scratches are much more noticeable, the tiniest scratch resulting in the appearance of the pixels beneath the scratch being somehow “smeared” and distorted).

This was the final straw, so I took my 30Gb back to the Apple Store and asked them to replace it because of the defective screen, and upgrade it to the 60Mb model while they were at it. After squinting at me Larry David-style for a few seconds to discern if I was up to something, the cashier did a straight exchange. Yay.

Since then I’ve been burning like a mo-fo. Using Handbrake freeware I’ve burned episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Firefly and various other shows to the iPod, along with Napoleon Dynamite, with more movies to come. I’ve also transferred over some photos which look GREAT on the little LCD screen.

Handbrake is a great little program, it seems to burn almost anything that’s Region 1 (still need to figure out how to burn multi-region), the only slight quirk so far seems to be that when burning from a TV DVD with multiple episode chapters, not all the chapters always show up in the menu. Odd.

(One thing I’ve learned is that you DON’T need to spend twice as long doing two-pass encoding, contrary to the online tutorial. I tried both, and whatever difference in video quality exists between single-pass and dual-pass encoding is lost on me. Both look great.)

So far I still haven’t found a simple anything-to-MP4 file transcoder on the Mac and for some strange reason my iPod doesn’t like my PC, so I’ve been using the extremely intuitive and fast Videora iPod Decoder (basically PSPVideo9 for iPod) to create MP4s on my Windows PC, then copying them over the network onto my PowerBook and putting them on the iPod from there. Works fine. The only thing it won’t do is transcode from a .WMV source, which apparently is pure codec hell.

Ripping DVDs using Handbrake is a fairly slow process (Napoleon Dynamite, a 90-minute movie, took about two hours) but the video results are great. And if you don’t mind a bit of stretching, any widescreen movies you have can be made to fit the iPod’s 4:3 screen without black bars, by unclicking the “keep aspect ratio” mode in Handbrake’s picture settings and manually resizing the image to 320x240. I tried this with Star Wars: Clone Wars, and it looked fine. It’s definitely preferable to the letterboxed image (which looks tiny on the iPod’s screen) or the firmware’s non-letterbox mode, which zooms you into the widescreen image with unpredictable results.

My only minor quibbles are with the scratchability of the screen (the first protective skins and screenguards for the 5G models are already hitting the market, and I aim to get one ASAP) and the fact that my 60Gb 5G doesn’t fit with my old 20Gb 4G dock, so I need to get the new Universal Dock.

So far, however, I love this thing, and it’s hard to imagine ever wanting to go back to using the PSP for video. The Sony screen may be bigger and widescreen, but the iPod’s massive storage capacity and excellent video quality for the size make it the clear winner for me.

I was waiting for someone to compare it to the PSP for video.

How big IS the screen actually? would it work ok if its more than 1 person watching? The thing w/ the psp that helps it for me, is the nice viewing angle, so its good for nearly a whole row of seats in a plane to watch the movies.

Here, I just took this:

Okay, so the PSP is signifcantly larger and is widescreen, but the actual quality of the iPod screen compares quite favorably, and frankly I’m happy to sacrifice the size in order to be able to carry around a massive video collection in one little box, rather than paying for (and fiddling with) multiple memory sticks, and constantly changing their contents.

Yeah, my 60gb iPod Photo is scratched like a motherfrakker, and I’ve taken decent care of it. All this whining about scratched Nanos implies it’s a new problem or something.

Gary, have you encoded videos for your PSP? I’m surprised you’re so jazzed about iPod movies when the PSP video experience is so much nicer with the bigger screen. (Yeah, capacity is smaller, but a 1GB card will hold 4 hours of video…)

Yes, I’ve encoded several movies using PSPVideo9. There’s no doubt that the PSP’s screen gives you more bang for your buck per movie. But, for me at least, that’s outweighed by easy access to so much content at once. You’re right, a 1Gb memory stick will give me 4 hours of video; that’s two feature-length movies. On my 5G I can hold about THIRTY such movies, and still have room for all my music (about 10Gb worth.)

Can your Ipod play this? ;)

No, but my PSP can :-)

I’m not buying an iPod video until I know that it’s Tom Chick compatible.



FYI, one interesting thing I just noticed is that the PSP screen is almost exactly the same height and width as the entire 5G iPod.

Handbrake should rip anything, regardless of region. The DVD Player might grumble, but you just shunt its window over out of sight and only go back to it to eject the disc at the end.

(Not that I’d know, and certainly haven’t been doing it on DVDs for my Archos. All evening.)

Yeah, but how does everyone listen to it? You can only have one set of headphones, and presumably playing the sound through the regular speakers would be a bit obnoxious when travelling on a plane.

I just tested it and was really impressed.
I thought I’d hate the small screen, but it’s pretty crisp and easy to watch.

The Zen Vision has the best resolution of the videoplayers (only the really really bulky Epson P-2000 is the same) but the viewing angle is attrocious. Tilt it a bit and all black dissapears. Viewed from the left the picture is a negative.

The Archos AV500 has a kickass screen and better battery life than the iPod. It supports a myriad of formats and you can just drag movies to it. Nice. This is the one I’d buy, if I didn’t allready own a PSP.

The PSP has the best screen I’ve yet experienced. Fiddling about with memorycards is a drag, but the resuslt is cool and it beats the iPod battery life… oh, it plays games too. So this is the one I personally use allthough it was bought for the games.

Ah, just discovered that if you ignore the Mac OSX DVD region warning dialog that pops up when you insert a foreign DVD, you can just go straight to Handbrake and it’ll rip it with no question asked.

Let the Region 2 DVD ripping begin!

Gary, ffmpegx should have no problem with anything-to-Mpeg4. It’s not always the most approachable app, but nothing stays unsupported for long.

I tried that, but it requires a bunch of plug-ins that were almost impossible to find.

Did anyone not get the Weapon of Choice video? :)

My only minor quibbles are with the scratchability of the screen (the first protective skins and screenguards for the 5G models are already hitting the market, and I aim to get one ASAP) and the fact that my 60Gb 5G doesn’t fit with my old 20Gb 4G dock, so I need to get the new Universal Dock.

I don’t own an ipod dock, but my 5g, and I’m sure yours, came with a small plastic dock adapter, that should allow the 5G to work with the previous dock.

Have you tried that yet?