"Apple vs. all other vendors" banter aside... this is a brilliant piece of kit.
I was on the lookout for a jukebox player seeing as I made the transition from casual listening to complete and utter audiophilia. Consequently, I began to rip mp3s at a high bit rate 320kbps; enjoying the greater sound quality of the music (couldn't believe what I had been missing)... Sounds amazing through my system. This led to my library size increasing almost four-fold. So my little 8GB Creative ZEN (the credit card sized unit) was no longer of favour (that even couldn't fit everything I had in my library, albeit at smaller file sizes/bit rates as well!).
And then there's this little beauty.
It accomodates to my huge library. Plays music flawlessly. The album artwork/cover flow functions are gloriously displayed on a nice wide screen (however, instead of arranging covers by album, the iPod arranges them by artist... which, if there are quite a few tracks that you have which feature additional artists, this equals A LOT of the same cover). The screen also serves purpose for comfortable video/movie playback.
Of course there is that much documented problem about music "not sounding as good as" previous models, but to be quite honest - I notice little to no reduction in quality. EU Legislation dictates that volume limiters are now applied to protect you, the consumer, from doing damage to your beloved ear drums. So yes... it might not be as "loud" as a previous model, but be rest assured that there is definitely no reduction in "quality".
Your ears will thank you someday.
As it is a hard-drive based player... if you tend to delete a lot of music off and load a lot on frequently you can notice a reduction in menu speed; it's because the file system gets a tincy wincy bit cluttered - but that's just extra jargon.
To counteract this, you can restore the iPod to it's original state when purchased... or... defragment the iPod like you would your normal PC hard drive.
This keeps performance tip-top.
So overall... a great player... and in support of the other review stated here... the player is indeed NOT BLACK like the previous generation... it is like a CHARCOAL/OBSIDIAN TONE with a metallic sheen; nonetheless, it retains it's huge aesthetic appeal. Very pleasing to look at, hold, drool over etc. etc.
So all in all, I'd recommend this to anyone with a steadily increasing library, choc-full of high bitrate or lossless music.
Oh, and if you do decide to purchase it... for the love of whoever... don't drop the thing. It's pretty much 'game over' if you do (hard drive fragility and all that).
- no FLAC support, again...
- hard drive vunerability.
- cover flow bloat (can be fixed with iTunes, but time-consuming).
- earphones, although outputting at the 2Hz -> 20,000Hz range STILL don't sound as good, recommended to replace them with an alternative.