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Last Updated
03/06/2008 10:58 AM



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(By the way, it should go without saying, but these opinions are mine & only mine.)

Upgrading to the Video iPod - A Dilemma

So things are going pretty well financially lately: my 2005 bonus just got paid out, I just landed a new job for a higher salary, I saved around $4,000 on laser eye surgery (long story...), and I got in on Google stock when it was below $200/share. So I figured, maybe I'll treat myself to one of those snazzy new Video iPods.

Old Technology

First, some background: I currently have what we retrononymously refer to as a "Click Wheel iPod" - 20GB, black and white screen. Capable of playing music and podcasts, but no video, no pictures, no album art, etc. I also have an iTrip, so the family can listen to the iPod in the car, a car recharger so the kids don't have to be without their playlists on long car trips when the battery runs dead, a case that holds the iPod securely in my work bag, and a NYKO Button Relocator so I can use my ear buds without taking the iPod out of my bag while on the commuter train.

Let's add all that up: the iPod went for $299 back in July of 2004. The iTrip was an additional $40. The auto charger was another $40, the case was $30, and the button relocator was $20. Total cost so far: $429 (70% iPod, 30% accessories).

New Technology

Now, the new (and did I mention, snazzy?) Video iPod also runs $299 for 30GB (since my 20GB iPod is just over half full, and a half hour TV program only needs ~200MB, I figure the 30GB model is fine). But let's talk accessories:

My iTrip is incompatible with the new iPod, so I'll need another one. The new one not only run $50, but it fits in the dock connector (the additional connector on the top of the old iPod is gone now, so choices are limited), which means I couldn't broadcast and charge at the same time. The "Genius" at the Apple Store recommended a competitor, which has a pass-through dock connector, but doesn't draw power from the iPod, so it has to be charging while in use (which means I lose wireless connectivity). That runs $60. So on the broadcast front, it's more money for less functionality, any way you slice it (in writing this, I found another product which seems to solve the problem, in that it connects through the headphone jack, and runs on AA batteries. Better and cheaper ($40), but then there's batteries...)

The button relocator simply doesn't exist for the Video iPod, but they do have the Radio Remote, which gives you access to the buttons away from the iPod, along with the ability to play FM radio (which I don't need, since basically all the songs I like are on the iPod, but that's another story). Cost: $50.

The car recharger would run another $40, but I don't need to buy that again, since it uses the dock connector which still exists, making my old one compatible (Thank God for small favors).

Cases are very subjective, of course (Apple's site alone lists 225 options). The only hitch here is that this iPod has a video screen, so even though I'll still mostly use it for music, it would be insane to buy a case that covered the screen. The most popular one (again, according to the "Genius") is this one, which runs $25. But it doesn't have the belt clip in the back, which is how I store it in my work bag, so I'd need to do some more research and find one that has it all.

Conclusion (Nope...Not Yet)

So how much does a new iPod cost? Basically, the same as the old one: $299, plus around $130 in accessories. This is a little misleading, because I'm re-using the $40 car charger, and the other accessories are all a little more expensive now, and/or contain features I don't really want/need.

Also, there's this rumor of a wide-screen video iPod that uses a virtual click wheel, which appears when you touch the screen and disappears when you stop. Sounds great, although I concur with many who wonder how the whole smudge/scratch problem is solved, but the point is this: the six to nine month launch cycle is definitely a factor here. I haven't decided against a new iPod yet, but given what I'm reading, I'm certainly going to wait until early April and see what happens.

Whatever comes next, here's a thought: if the old accessories work with the new model, the cost of the product would drop by roughly 30%. And since most of these products aren't Apple's, you'd think the incentives would be in the right place.

Or maybe I'm just thinking too "different."