iPod photo: Photo presentations a major battery drain

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 2nd, 2005 • 12:49 am

While I was on vacation in Europe, I was able to use my iPod photo (1st generation, 60 GB model) to show a series of 160 carefully selected digital pictures to various friends and family members.

Everything worked as expected. I just had to change the slideshow settings from NTSC to PAL and connect the iPod photo to a TV set using the special white cable provided with the iPod photo.

I didn’t bother to bring the iPod photo dock with its S-VHS connector. I figured that regular composite video would be good enough, and would also be more convenient. If you use the dock with the S-VHS connector, you still have to use the cable for the sound, so you just end up having to carry yet another accessory around. In addition, if you want to be able to jump from picture to picture manually, you’ll want to use the iPod itself as a remote control device, and having it sitting in its dock makes that more cumbersome.

All the TV sets of the people we visited had a composite video connection, so that wasn’t a problem. Several people actually had high definition TV sets (LCD projectors or plasma TVs), and I was afraid the higher definition would reveal the flaws of the heavily compressed, NTSC-optimised digital pictures, but the pictures looked pretty good even on the higher-quality TV sets.

One drawback I encountered while using the iPod photo to make these audio-video presentations was that, when you want to change the soundtrack of a slide show on the iPod photo, the only option is to select another playlist. But this assumes that you’ve created the playlists in advance when your iPod was connected to your computer. In other words, you cannot easily change your mind at the last minute and use different tunes as the soundtrack for your slideshow if you didn’t create a playlist with these tunes earlier on. I don’t see why the iPod photo software doesn’t let you simply select an artist or an album in the iPod’s music collection as the soundtrack for a slideshow.

The most important problem I encountered, however, was that these TV slideshows with the iPod photo are a major drain on the iPod photo’s battery. My slideshow had 160 pictures and would last 15 to 20 minutes (the equivalent of four or five tunes). I quickly found that such a presentation pretty much required a full battery. If the battery was already half empty when I started the slideshow, I would barely have enough juice left in the battery to complete the presentation.

I suppose that feeding this video and audio signal to a TV set does require a fair amount of power. But I was still disappointed that the battery requirements were so big.

I ended up bringing the iPod’s battery charger and FireWire cable with me and making the presentation with the iPod plugged in. This was of course, less convenient, because it meant carrying around another batch of accessories (the charger, the FireWire cable, and the adapter required to plug the charger with the North American plug into a French or English power outlet). And it also meant that I had to position myself strategically in the room, because I had to be close enough to the TV set itself (the audio/video cable is not very long) and to a power outlet.

Still, even with these drawbacks, the use of the iPod photo for photo presentations remained a pleasant experience that enabled us to share lots of pictures from our collection with friends and family without having to carry a huge photo album across the Atlantic.

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