Video I-Pod- fave stocking stuffer not ready for prime time

by Jason Gross

18 October 2005


“Apple Computer today introduced the first Video IPod, expected to be popular among porn fans with excellent eyesight”- from the Borowitz Report

This is a ring of truth to that though as the I-Pod morphed yet again: Apple’s Jobs Unveils Video iPod.  Of course, millions of Gen XYZ’ers are gonna be scamming for these for the holidays, regardless of how much more mileage they can get out of these hip little white devices as opposed to other MP3 players or even earlier versions of the Pod.  See, it’s the HOTTEST version of the Pod with the NEWEST features.  For many buyers, any kind of tweak is gonna get them salivating for the thing.

But it isn’t any little change we’re talking about here.  Most players look like the old Atari game systems with the no-frills titles in boring fonts and background colors.  the V-Pod isn’t the first time that color and animation has been added but it’s special because it’s Apple, still the faraway leader in the field, and because they inked a deal with Disney.  Jack Shafer of Slate, one of the smartest media critics around, is more impressed with the press’s gullibility and Job’s excellent snake-oil skills than he is with the product itself: see The Apple Polishers.  He does have a point but there is something to the V-Pod that’s different and special.

ABC News (which Disney owns) wasted no time trumpeting this nifty little device, not emphasizing too much that there’s very limited programming available on it now as Richard Siklos noted in the NY Times:  Cool, a Video iPod. Want to Watch ‘Lost’?.  In addition, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the download time for a TV program is excessive and the picture quality is far from ideal:  TV Downloads May Undercut ABC Stations

Some of the worthy hoopla though is that idea that you can grab and watch programs when you like and pay for the privilege too.  That’s not how TV traditionally works and this does make a new wrinkle in the medium, as the WSJ article also notes, while also adding that some of the station affiliates aren’t thrilled that they were left out of the discussions for this.

To me, the obvious problem isn’t just the pic quality but the screen size itself.  As Borowitz joked above, you’ll need 20/20 eyes to squint down and make out those cute little moving pictures on a screen that doesn’t quite measure larger than a finger.  You think that it was bad enough blinking at your TV at home, how do you think your pupils will be after a few hours of staring at that tiny screen?  Granted that gamers have done that already for a while but those games were made for the small devices while TV programs are made for larger screens.  Unless you’ll rewind constantly, you’re going to miss a lot of detail and nuances in a show- what people are wearing, what are their facial expressions, what’s in the background, etc..  A lot of that is going to be lost and for films, where attention to detail is even greater, the viewer stands to lose out on even more.

But remember that this is a novelty for now and these thoughts are definitely not going through the heads of most consumers.  What holds more promise for the TV or film medium isn’t just making them portable or viewed-at-will (you could already do that with VHS and DVD) but how they will be portable AND viewable to a reasonable degree.  Some thought is going into that already as seen in this Washington Post article: Newspapers: The Future.  Video newspapers that are constantly updated isn’t a crazy idea when, as the article notes, the publication can do it much cheaper than cranking out print copies.

Hell, you won’t even have to remember to haul it around with you as you may soon become your own media player.  Chip implants are all good and well but how about Musical breast implants?  Good idea but you have to wonder where that leaves the guys.

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