CS and the City Sean Lynch

One year in: iPod Mini

Earlier this month I celebrated the one year anniversary of the arrival of my very first Apple: my 12″ iBook. Along with it, I received my second iPod, a blue second-generation 4 GB iPod mini.

I was hoping to give comparison battery numbers after a year of ownership. I was blown away by the battery life when I pulled it out of the box so I was quite interested to see how well it would do after a year. Unfortunately, the iPod didn’t last that long.

I started noticing issues in my iPod over the last three or four months. Random shut-offs and weird lock-ups started popping up. Not with any sort of frequency. At least not with enough frequency for me to be without it. In hindsight, putting it off only made it worse. With less than a month left on warrenty, I punched up Apple on the internet and requested a repair.

Unfortunately, Apple’s one-year warrenty policy on my iPod is, well, several shades of bullshit. Really, it’s just a gradual fade out of service possibilities. You get free phone support for the first 90 days. After that, you’re looking at $30 per phone call. If you have trouble with you iPod (as I did) you can send it back for repairs free of charge IF it’s within the first six months of ownership. After that, you’re looking at a $40 fee for shipping and handling. Really too steep considering how much it must ACTUALLY cost to my little iPod back to california. If the guys on eBay can do it for $10, I don’t see why Apple can’t.

Although Apple’s “support” is largely a money grab. I was quite impressed with how timely it was. Shipping a return-for-repairs package to me took two days. Shipping my iPod back, another two. Repairs were done in less than two and as we speak, my replacement iPod is in a DHL sorting facility on its way back to me. The process uses a nice web interfaces for checking the status and e-mails you updates when it is received and on its way back to you. Also DHL seems to do a lot better at keeping their updates on their tracking page relatively real-time. Purolator and Canada Post could take notice.

I also found a quality issue with the touch scroll wheel. It felt as if the wheel itself had spotty reception so the scroll functions were often jerky; I would scroll for some distance with no movement and then the highlight would jump to the item two away. I remember reading that the second generation minis had their scroll wheels optimized for power use so I suspect the feel here was a victim of the optimization as I’ve never come across it in the first generation minis.

On the positive side, I’m still on my original pair of ear buds. I managed to go through three during my year with the first generation mini.

For those interested, here are the accessories I’m using with my mini:

  • Griffin iTrip mini
  • Apple Firewire + AC Adapter
  • Generic AC to USB adapter (charge using the iPod USB cable)
  • Generic headsup cellphone holder for car (mounts to air vents)

Note: No case. I don’t feel like I need it and I’m using my iPod every day. You cannot say that about any other iPod except the shuffle. That’s why it will be a while before I upgrade my iPod mini.