iPod mini Short Review

I'm pretty sure all of us has heard about the iPod mini. It's small, it's nice, and comes in four horrible looking colours (and still sells like hotcakes). My friend, drinkingcocoa recently purchased one of these highly desirable items. When we went out to 1 Utama recently, I got to try out this valuable little nugget of his. He, of course, loaded it with few songs, if I remember correctly, it barely topped 100 songs. Since I believed this item was a highly desirable item, I should take a go and give it a good review for the benefit of all the readers of this blog. Review: iPod mini 4GB (2nd generation)

First off, let's talk about the pros of the iPod mini. It's small. It can hold 4GB. It looks nice with the click wheel words being the small colour as the actual body. The click wheel is responsive enough for normal use, and of course, the earphones had pretty good bass. I'm pretty sure syncing is easy, if not, I might have gotten a few calls. *sweats* I won't comment on the intuitiveness of the menu system, because, frankly, I already know it head to tail, but when I didn't, it took a while to get used to.

This is a simple review, I'm not going to go so deep into why you should buy this. I'm going to go deep into why you shouldn't. All of us already know the pros. We want to know what's wrong with this thing that everyone is not telling us.

Apple skimped on having an AC adapter as well as on the FireWire cable - which is a big drawback to me, considering I have a FireWire 400 port, and an AC adapter would be good for on the go charging. I'm am also very picky when it comes to sound. I'm the kind of person that actually compares stuff like Ogg Vorbis at maximum bitrate to MP3 at maximum bitrate. Many people claim they cannot hear the difference between the two, or that the difference is negligible. When I decided to test these two at 'equal' bitrates, MP3 sounded better, and was only something like a megabyte or two larger. I could hear what Ogg Vorbis cut off and lost from the audio file - and the difference was not negligible - it could change certain pieces of music and make them hit with less impact (but yes, negligible for most, but not for me). Here, with the iPod mini, I was thoroughly disappointed. The sound it gave me - was worse than my simplistic 256MB audio player from Transcend. I knew it wasn't the stock earphones - I have neodymium backphones - and they should sound the same. I've compared simple 128kbps samples - and I know they sound worse on the iPod mini. The problem is old, and is well known. The power drain of the earphones causes the sound quality to fall. I've heard the iPod mini on AC-powered speakers before. They sounded like they should. Does it performing better on speakers matter? No. The iPod mini was built for mobility, not a mobile sound system (iPod + portable speaker + AC adapter). Now, I was looking forward to seeing if the equalizer would help. The iPod mini has a set of presets you can use, and after some vain attempts to find the best, I settled for one setting. The one setting to rule all other settings on the iPod. The one setting that would leave your sound at its best quality on the iPod mini. The one setting that sat at the very top. That setting is 'Off'. How is that possible? I honestly don't know. I had Green Day's American Idiot (128 kbps) blazing on my drinkingcocoa's iPod, and the best setting I found was to actually not use the equalizer to begin with. I don't use the equalizer at home, my Transcend revision B JetFlash MP3 player has no equalizer - I'm playing an American Idiot sample at 128 kbps also. My home computer has a DSP plugin, so it'll always sound good. I generally pamper my music, going for the highest possible bitrate with the best space savings. To me, this generally means VBR maxing out at 320 kbps. But for the sake of testing, I will take things a notch down.

The verdict on the iPod mini? Rethink your purchase. Are you certain that no other player fits your needs? Are you sure you want to buy something that doesn't sound quite as good as even the iPod shuffle? Tip of the week: Don't buy something out of cool or fad. Make sure it sounds right first. As for my recommendations on a substitute? I don't have one. I haven't heard every single player, and I do not intend to recommend one until I'm absolutely certain which one is the one to buy.