3.2.06. iPods and USB 2

Today I added to my iPod collection with the iPod Shuffle. I actually wanted to get it last night, but a late day at work caused me to miss the store being open. A couple of other important errands got bumped back too. The plan was – get iPod Shuffle, go skiing. Since here is something nice and simple that can (theoretically) be operated with gloves. Or even, perhaps, by just hitting the middle of your chest. At some point soon I’ll have to test this theory for real. But in any case – I’m liking the iPod Shuffle conceptually right now. I have a playlist that I’m listening to quite heavily these days that just barely fits in the shuffle’s space. It has better battery life than my aging 3rd Gen iPod. It probably responds to cold environments better too. And it’s so tiny!

One problem. The Shuffle is geared towards USB 2.0. USB2 is only a feature on very recent Macs (within the last year or two). My main iTunes library is at the office, which is an older machine (dual 867 G4 tower). It’s not that old of a machine. But, no USB2. So I can fill it via USB1.1 at 12MBPS, and holy hell – slow.

I’ve been considering replacing my aging 3rd Gen main iPod with a new video model if I see a good price (refurbished, etc). It’s only been lightweight consideration so far. Today, however, I found out that the video (aka 5th generation) iPods and iPod Nano will not work with Firewire at all. They can charge via firewire, but need USB to be recognized by a computer.

It looks like it might take close to an hour for this 1GB shuffle to fill. Some of the slowness may be related to an extra option I have set, “Encode higher bit rate songs to 128KBPS for this iPod” to squeeze space out of it. But still – this is ridiculously slow.

I can’t imagine trying to fill a 30 or 60 GB iPod over USB 1.1. Yet if I were to get one and still expect to use it with the music library I have on my office machine, that’s the only option I have (short of buying a USB 2 card). This is a strange direction for Apple to take. I mean – I guess it is obvious that USB 2 has equalled or beaten Firewire in many markets and is used heavily in the ‘Wintel’ PC crowd. But still – to not offer support for Firewire at all? If I were still using my old home iMac G3, I’d be furious. There’s no easy upgrade option for it or for many fairly recent (2-5) year old Macs. I find that very strange.