as with many other first generation iPod owners, I find that my device is pretty much useless unless it is plugged in. there is a flaw that has significantly limited the battery life. this problem is so prevalent that a successful class action suit was launched against apple - although they are trying to weasel out of paying my settlement.
but then along came the Xbox 360 and its out of the box support for iPods and other music sources. all I had to do was plug my iPod into one of the Xbox 360's USB ports and presto! I actually have a use for my iPod. it's now a fixture in the living room - not exactly what they had in mind when they made it, but it works.
despite the great press, there were other issues with the original iPods, and some of them have been addressed. for example, it used to be that the "On The Go" playlist was erased every time you connected your iPod to iTunes - now that was annoying. but it was fixed fairly quickly. other problems have not been addressed. a good example is gapless playback. I doubt this occurs on the solid state iPods, but if you have a hard drive version, you probably know what I'm talking about. there is an almost inexplicable delay as the iPod searches the hard drive for the next song. there is even an online petition to try to convince apple to add this feature. issues like this are the reason why I bought a creative MuVo for running. the MuVo is great, and the fact that it stills works after I accidentally ran it through a wash cycle, makes me even happier that I bought it.
microsoft is about to launch the zune portable media player to compete with the iPod. lots of people have said - in a knee-jerk fashion - that microsoft is wasting their time, that there is no way that they can compete with the iPod. well I tend to agree with one dimension of those statements, it will be tough to compete with the almost religious fervor that surrounds the iPod. I'll admit that I was disappointed by the original iPod. other than the size of the drive, I didn't think that it was as useful as my 1998 diamond Rio.
from that experience, I feel that I gained an objective view. but for many people, the iPod was their first MP3 player, so they didn't know that things could be even better. I can see that iPods have cool interfaces - but also that these interfaces aren't as easy to use with 6000 songs on the device. I can see that iPods are important to apple, and I'd like to see great companies like apple do well. but, I can also see that there are plenty of features that aren't available on iPods, if other players offer those features, I wonder what the devout will say?
iTunes 7 appears to be trying to address the gapless issue - at least in iTunes - because I'm currently waiting as it's "Determining Gapless Playback Information" for the 5929 songs on my iPod. oh wait... the battery died near the end :P
but I don't want to complain... thanks to the Xbox 360, I can actually use my iPod for something other than car trips.