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What the next-generation iPod should be Print E-mail
Written by Scott Davey   
Thursday, 20 July 2006 17:21

What the Next-Generation Apple iPod Should Be

With the recent hubbub about the potential inclusion of NVIDIA hardware in the next iPod, I began to wonder - What exactly would I want in the new device?  Potential video capabilities are intriguing, but what would be required to make the device more useful and intuitive all round?

Nintendo’s redesign of its DS into the far superior DS Lite obviously borrowed some aesthetic elements from Apple’s massively successful device.  I should think it’s only fair that Apple return the favour, but instead borrow some functionality elements from the DS.

It’s no small secret that the next iPod will feature a touch sensitive screen.  Save perhaps an on/off switch, there may be no buttons or dials at all on the device.  The entire front of the machine should be all screen, making it look more like a pocket-sized plasma TV than a current generation iPod.  With the recent Nano scratched-screen debacle, I hope Apple includes a cover for the screen.  An ideal design would be a clamshell cover that perhaps folds all the way around to snap into the back of the unit.  The now famous click wheel is believed to appear on the screen when you touch it, maintaining the same functionality which is as elegant as it is genius.

Should the entire screen be touch sensitive, I would hope for the inclusion of a stylus pen as well.  Also borrowing from the DS, there needs to be an inclusion of Wi-Fi.  Full-on web-browsing ala the upcoming Opera Browser for the DS would seal the deal for me, but at the very least onscreen browsing and purchasing of MP3s and TV shows etc. would negate ever having to connect the device to a computer.  The last feature I would really like, but don’t expect, would be a video-out option.  The problem with downloading TV shows is that people would sometimes rather watch their downloaded show on a larger screen if possible.  Assuming a resolution of at least 384x240 (16:10), output to a 32” TV or even larger would be quite passable, and in fact no worse than the best VCR technology could achieve.  If this was implemented, people (ahem, like my wife) would certainly pay $2 to download that missed episode of Desperate Housewives.  Since there’s already an audio out (headphone) jack, this inclusion should really be a no-brainer assuming (NVIDIA) can do the TV output in a cost effective way.  This implementation turns the iPod into a Video-on-Demand/PVR type device.  In this respect your TV would also become an iPod docking station.

In this envisioning, any potential gaming would only make use of the touch screen.  Before you entirely dismiss this, remember that there are some rather engaging DS games that make exclusive use of the touch screen capability - Kirby’s Canvas Curse and Trauma Center come to mind.  Also, there’s the ability to play more casual games like Bejeweled or Zuma, or better yet the fantastic Sudoku implementation that comes with the DS' Brain Age game.  Couple that with potential 3D capabilities through NVIDIA’s rumoured involvement and you have a viable gaming diversion - That is, when you aren't watching TV shows or listening to music.  Note that I say 'diversion', as there is little chance that the next iPod will even attempt to compete as a mobile gaming platform, and I’m sure Apple would be happy to be slightly more robust than say… cell phones at gaming.

If Apple is successful in pulling off most of the above features and still comes in at the same $349US price at retail, I assure you I’d get one.  And I’m pretty sure that most would agree it’s the ultimate portable AV device… at least until the next one comes out.

Many thanks to Scott Davey for his contribution

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