updated 07:55 am EDT, Sun July 7, 2013
iPod classic finally set for retirement six years after its introduction?
It's hard to believe that Apple's venerable iPod classic was first introduced in 2007. It's almost unheard of in the tech world for a product to stay on the market for six years remaining virtually unchanged in that time. Yet here it is, still kicking on despite predictions that it would be axed over the past couple of years. However, with the release of the 128GB iPad and flash storage prices continuing to fall, it seems that Apple might be on the cusp of introducing an iPod touch and iPhone with a 128GB capacity. So is it still worth grabbing an iPod classic while you still can?
While a 128GB iPod touch or 128GB iPhone have yet to surface, it is quite possible they could make an appearance this year. For serious music listeners, even that may not accommodate a large music collection quite like the 160GB iPod classic. It will, however, suffice for most people and that might just be enough to see the iPod classic and its iconic click wheel navigational controls disappear. It is unlikely that we will ever see a Lightning connector version of the iPod classic either, so it really does seem as though its days are finally numbered.
If you're like me, and you love your music, you've probably opted for a smartphone with at least 64GB of storage, whether it is built-in like the iPhone 5 or can be supplemented with a microSD card. But even then you will still need to have room for your apps and photos among other files. Carrying a separate MP3/MP4 player is not really ideal, but it can have its upsides. For example, you can potentially save battery life on your phone while also being able to carry your whole music collection around with you.
I'd certainly been spoilt by the storage capacity of my older generation iPod and found switching to smartphone made me feel constrained when it came to taking my music on the road. Simply being able to set a device to sync my whole collection without having to pick and choose is a great convenience. Apple's iTunes Match service helps to address the limited storage space on iPhones, but requires users to download songs or albums to their device meaning that if you are out of storage, you are out of luck or have to delete files. Streaming services can also help you access whatever you want whenever you want, but can chew through your data allowance if you aren't connected to a Wi-Fi network.
The spinning hard drive in the iPod classic may not be as thin or fast as flash-based smartphones, but it does offer high storage capacity at an affordable price. I've been using the current iPod classic for the past week couple of weeks and I have to say that it has convinced me that I am prepared to sacrifice the convenience of carrying one device in order to be able to listen to any album from my collection whenever the mood takes me. It's been great on my lengthy commute on public transit to the office, and fantastic in the car on road trips.
The battery life of the iPod classic is rated at up to 36 hours for audio playback. In addition to a 40,000 song capacity (128kbps AAC) it can hold 200 hours of video, or 25,000 photos (which can be viewed on its 2.5-inch screen). It also still has the ability to be set up as a portable external hard drive, which can come handy in a crunch. In addition to viewing photos, the iPod classic has three games built in, can be used as a clock, alarm clock, stopwatch, store calendar appointments, to dos and contacts. It is still, surprisingly, remarkably versatile.
If Apple brings out a 128GB iPhone, I can't say with absolute certainty that I will still want to take the iPod classic to the office with me. That said, my audio collection is 132.5GB with a number of albums ripped in Apple Lossless. I could comfortably fit my entire music collection on a 128GB iPhone if I was prepared to set iTunes to automatically convert higher bit rate songs into 128kbps AAC. As someone who loves high-end audio and who uses high-quality headphones, I would notice the difference in audio quality - but I would still have all my music with me. Or, I could stick with the iPod classic and have it all in an optimal format.
What do you think? Would you like to see Apple keep the iPod classic alive through 2014 or longer? Will you miss it when it's gone?
By Sanjiv Sathiah