PhotoPod? Uh, no thanks

by Giles Turnbull


When I started this weblog, I was determind to avoid the rumors. Let's face it, it's easy to write news stories about nonexistent, mythical products that may or may never appear, and may well be completely different to what Apple eventually comes out with. Especially when Apple's policy of remainly steadfastly mute about such products provides a license for anyone to write pretty much whatever they please.



You can hear the 'But -' coming, can't you?



But - since Think Secret posted a story about the possibility of a new iPod, resplendent with color screen and the ability to display photos, everyone has been jumping on with their own rumors, counter-rumors, and jovial linky-lurve.



Like:

Colour screen iPod rumblings - T3

Colour screen iPod by Christmas - Digital.Lifestyles

Color iPod on the horizon? - extremeipod.com



A photoPod sounds exciting to some, if this kind and amount of coverage is anything to go by.



But I can't get excited about it. The iPod has worked because it does its job extremely well. It lets you carry your music collection around in your pocket, and listen to it. But a device that lets you carry your music collection and your photo collection around in your pocket? Um, why? I can see why some people (duh, photographers) would love such a device, but for me, it's something that sounds cool only in the technical sense, not in the practical sense.



Why? Because when I'm looking at photos, I want to see them properly. Squinting down at a tiny 2-inch screen, or worse still, trying to share a tiny 2-inch screen with a bunch of friends, just doesn't sound like much fun.



I agree with Christopher Breen; tiny little screens of the size you see on phones, or are likely to see on an iPod, just don't do photos justice. A cheaper, smaller, Flash-memory iPod would pull in a lot more new customers than a more expensive, more complicated photoPod.



I have no doubt that Apple will announce new products soon, and some of them may even be iPods. But on average, Apple renews its computer product line every 173 days, and its a little more than that since the last announcement (the launch of the G5). So I think new computers (an eMac update? better spec laptops?) are very close.



PhotoPod? PicPod? Whatever it might be called, what good reasons can you think of for buying one?


14 Comments

cviebrock
2004-10-12 14:28:03
Stop and think a bit
What if you could use this new iPod to dump the contents of your digital camera's memory card (like the Belkin card reader does, but natively)? Wouldn't having 60 gigs of memory for your camera (with preview) be a good use?


What if there were a way to add maps to address book entries? Displaying those in colour would be handy.


There are lots of reasons why the "PhotoPod", as you call it, could be very useful ... beyond the limited reasons you mention.

dscotson
2004-10-12 14:49:46
TV link-up
I've always been sceptical of these colour iPod rumours (and they have been around since shortly after the first iPod). Killing your battery to peer at tiny photos on an LCD just does nothing for me.


If, however, there is a video output jack to display slideshows through a television, possibly with an audio track too, then that would be reasonably cool. Maybe it could also display the cover art that iTunes seems to insist on loading onto my space starved 15GB iPod.

MtnBiker
2004-10-12 15:05:12
Stop and think out of your box
Yes this would be great and no more expensive than dedicated devices that do this. There are several devices--hard drive plus a small screen plus the necessary software to download from a digital camera and display the pictures. The display is good to give yourself some assurance that the picture made it to the drive. And 60 gig and small. I want one! Now! As long as it has both USB and FireWire.
fofer
2004-10-12 15:21:10
Yeah, but what if...
...what if you could hook it up to a TV and drive a Keynote presentation off the iPod? Using the iPod's nav controls to go from slide to slide, looking at the iPod's screen to monitor your progress?


Yeah, I'd buy that for a coupla dollars.

gilest
2004-10-12 15:45:30
Yeah, but what if...
Hey, you're right. That would be a *very* neat little use for such a device.
dougaus
2004-10-12 16:50:43
Very Handy Feature
As an iRiver H340 owner, which includes such a feature, I can state it is very handy.
It is great for downloading your photos from memory cards. The only thing I have against it is that on a recent four day trip it meant I generated about 400 high quality photos!! The display is not too bad either -- good enough to see whether you want to keep a photo or not, especially as it includes zoom up to four-times.


The H340 can actually act as an USB1.1 host so this is probably not the only application. Fortunately, it connects as a USB2 device to PCs.


I'd say "yes, thanks" but I'm very happy with my iRiver :-).

dougaus
2004-10-12 16:53:20
Re: Very Handy Feature
And I should mention that the H340 plays music as well :-).
jwenting
2004-10-13 00:05:26
Stop and think out of your box
the screen would need to be a lot larger to be useful to prescreen photos.
And that larger screen would be a big problem.
- more expensive
- larger overall dimensions of the device
- uses a LOT more energy
rluttman
2004-10-13 06:08:48
Outta the box. In the box. Who Cares?
I believe that the iPod is the new personal computer, freed from the spreadsheet / word processing rut most of the computer world has been stuck in for years.


I agree strongly with the "keep it simple, I just want my music" crowd. And the "give me a cheap Flash memory iPod so I can actually buy one" crowd. I think Apple needs to expand deeper and further into the low end of the market show they don't get rolled up from the bottom by cheap "good enough for me and Bill Gates" copycats.


On the other hand, this is a nifty little computer I have clipped to my belt. Apple and others have been expanding it and adding useful features. Adding color, even video, continues this trend. I can think of several things I could do with "good enough" color, even video: actually see the pictures I downloaded from the camera, pictures with contact info, maps with directions, movie trailers, news/weather/sports clips, etc.


With podcasting/news aggregators/text file apps etc., calendar/contact info, audio books / text files on my iPod, I use it as much for the information it carries as I do listening to the music it carries.


I think the music iPod was the trojan horse that snuck the digital hub into people's lives. Apple hooked them with music, no they can seal the deal with color, even video. WIth color Apple can bring more of iLife and the digital hub into people's lives.


So, if you just want your music, great! Line up for that Flash memory iPod. Others will be lining up for the color iPod. Two lines are better than one.


mwalker
2004-10-13 08:34:58
Thank you (finally)
I'm glad someone is pointing out that an iPod is a great device because it does what it does very well, not because it is loaded with features.


When Apple starts putting photo viewing or Keynote/PowerPoint output or whatever into the iPod, we'll know they've decided to stop making the iPod a better player, and are letting marketing drive the product line.

jlocker
2004-10-13 09:01:38
I have not purchased an iPod, but I will now
A device that only played music was to limiting for me, for a couple of hundred dollar device. I have been waiting for a photo ipod, because I shoot a lot of photos in 5MP in raw, with can fill even a 1 gig compact flash card very quickley. When I shoot on vacation, I want to be able to take pictures, take the compact flash card out, take a ipod out of my pocket transfer the pictures and I am back to taking pictures. Then I can then dump the pictures to the laptop or tower when I get back. But also look to the future with a 60 gig HD. The compact flash card slot could be used for other things like a WIFI, or how about GPS, bluetooth to talk to your cell phone camera. The idea's are limits.
Kmark
2004-10-13 11:41:29
Simple but with more useful features
I think it's a great idea when done right. Apple has the best chance of getting it right.


1. There can be higher-end multiple function devices (iPod Photo 60) and lower-end single function devices (iPod 40/20, iPod mini). Apple can figure out a way to keep the UI simple while it does both photos, music, and storage functions.
2. There is a synergy between photos and music. Photos are much more enjoyable when turned into slideshows with music.
3. The LCD on cameras is about 2 to 2.5". So the iPod LCD would be about the same size, which is good enough to preview but not much else. For sure, though, if there is a photo iPod, it will be able to show the photos on an external display (or projector).
4. Apple can do two things at once - continue to improve the music experience and add the photo/music experience. It doesn't have to be either-or.

mnystedt
2004-10-14 02:59:37
I agree...
Photo iPod doesn't appeal to me much. Rather, I would want a fully-featured PDA from Apple, that integrates seamlessly with everything on my Mac. Take the best of their Newton and iPod experience and perhaps a twist of OS X and I'm sure they could do something amazing.


//Magnus

kgelner
2004-10-18 16:54:42
Video out helps solve that, as well as UI
As a photographer I could still see it being useful - the iPod display would probably be about twice as big as most camera LCD's, and if it let you review images through video and had a good interface for zooming ( to examine image sharpness) it could be nice.


Also I ultimatley don't even care if it can display the photos at all, if I can treat it as a good portable storage device that works as well as other portable photo solutions right now (good battery life and transfer speed) then I will be happy enough and probably buy one to replace my NixVue Vista. That does not understand my raw files so I just use it to store images - fine by me.