"Capacity, value and build compensate for sluggishness."4.0 starson by weshinego
Pros: Solid build. Attractive spartan design. Best-in-its-class capacity at a value. "Coverflow" feature serves as eye-candy for those who keep a meticulous media library. Impressive battery life.
Cons: Obsolete relative to the 5G Nano and 2G Touch. Plastic screen and steel back-plate scratch easily. No WiFi. Zero evolution since the 1G classic was rolled out in 2007. sluggish relative to previous HDD iPods--a huge inconvenience.
Summary: An unbiased overview of my experience with the 120GB iPod Classic.
I'll start with what works.
I purchased the 120 GB iPod Classic because I've amassed a 65GB music library. I don't buy movies or TV shows via iTunes and I don't import them--watching anything on a 2.5 inch screen has zero appeal to me. I like gadgets with a single function done right. The "jack-of-all-trades" trend that combines phones with GPS displays and MP3 players usually results in devices that can do a lot (they look great on paper) but exhibit disappointing performance across the board. The Classic works well as an MP3 (or AAC, if you're me) player. The extra attention to album artwork is a nice addition and the Coverflow feature is really rewarding if you've spent time organizing your media library. I'm a bit old-school, so I purchase and rip complete albums and EPs--I don't download single tracks--so Coverflow on my Classic functions a bit like a miniature jukebox. 1000 complete albums, EPs and box sets make for better trips to the gym, longer walks with the dog and great road trip soundtracks. The moderately priced, lower capacity iPod Touches and iPhones simply can't compete with the Classic's capacity and music-first mission. Apple added the Genius feature to the 120GB Classic and it works well on the fly. If you've properly tagged your music, Genius can instantly slap together some impressive playlists--a feature that's perfect for the car or a last minute party. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the monster jump in battery life from the 5G Video. I used to throw a conniption when I'd forget my 1G Nano or iPod Video's wall charger on business trips, but the Classic usually powers through the weekend on a full charge. The Classic's aluminum face-plate is an improvement over the Video's acrylic facade, and many inexpensive, tough, hard cases are available to supplement the Classic's durable construction.
The 120GB model is Apple's second shot at the Classic, but it still isn't without flaws, and this seems atypically lazy from a company like Apple.
I owned a 30GB iPod Video that--despite its age and supposed inferiority to Apple's present iPod family--was considerably faster than the Classic. Many people have chalked the Classic's sluggishness up to its HDD--but older iPods functioned smoothly in spite of the same technology. Apple should've added a bit more processing punch (and RAM) to handle the interface packaged with the 6G iPod. That interface is also rapidly falling behind the Classic's sister iPods. The Touch, Nano and iPhone continue to evolve, while the Classic's OS still suffers from issues (no support for album artist tags, tired menus with limited display options, mishandling of purchased Nike+ tracks) that warranted attention OVER TWO YEARS AGO. I can sort my albums by name, artist and year in iTunes, so why can't I do the same on my Classic? The Classic still sports a plastic screen that scratches easily in comparison to the Touch's glass display--this could've been addressed. Finally, the HDD is less durable than flash memory--and is certainly less workout-friendly--but I guess that's just the nature of the beast.
I mentioned that I'm attracted to gadgets that master a single mission so I really like my Classic. I will admit, however, that I'm the kind of Apple customer that gets the most out of the Classic model. I've spent an embarrassing amount of time over-organization my iTunes library, double checking everything from track names, to album release dates, to artwork, to disk and track numbers. The Classic benefits from this attention to detail because the new(er) Coverflow feature looks fabulous and Apple's Genius music discovery application works as intended. With that said, Genius, the inclusion of album artwork on menus and the overall Classic experience suffer from a messy library. It's a case of "garbage in, garbage out." As mentioned earlier, I am most disappointed with my Classic's poor response times and sluggishness. Fortunately these OS slowdowns haven't impacted music playback thus far, so even they can be forgiven. The Classic is the consummate MP3 player. It's not flashy, it doesn't benefit from the current app-craze and it's a dinosaur from a tech perspective, but I'm not interested in all of that jazz. I'm interested in a durable, attractive devise that allows me access to a lifetime's worth of music, and the 120GB Classic does just that.
Four out of five stars.