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Video iPod stores potential

By Brian Segna

Dec. 3, 2006 9:00 p.m.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they made a portable device that
could store and play, say, every episode of the TV show
“Lost?”

Technically, they have. And millions of Americans can already
watch “Lost,” “Top Chef,”
“Grey’s Anatomy” and even selected full-length
feature films, on what Amazon.com calls the best-selling electronic
device currently on the market: the video iPod.

While other portable music and video players exist, including
the new Microsoft Zune, it’s Apple’s which has become
ubiquitous.

Now over a year since the video iPod’s release, one would
expect to see the mysteries of a lost island, crazy culinary
concoctions and love affairs between Meredith and Mc-Someone
popping up on video iPod screens all over campus.

“I pretty much only use (my video iPod) for music,”
said Chris Wang, third-year economics student. “Using it with
video makes the battery die really quickly, so it’s kind of
stupid to have all these videos on it.”

Apple boasts battery lifetimes of up to 4 hours and 6.5 hours
for the 30 and 80 GB versions, though many users are skeptical of
these claims. Users have also mentioned the difficulty of playing
video content not purchased through the Apple media platform
iTunes.

“You have to convert video files into some special format
and it takes a long time. It’s a hassle,” Wang
said.

According to a study recently published by Nielsen Media
Research, monitoring 400 U.S. iPod users during the month of
October, only 2.2 percent of content played by video iPod users,
either on iTunes or on the device itself, was video. The number
drops to 1 percent among all iPod users.

Even the duration of video consumption by video iPod users
accounts for only 11 percent of the total time spent using either
iTunes or the video iPod itself, equivalent to listening to over
100 three-minute songs for every 40-minute television show
episode.

Despite the numbers, some students find creative ways to benefit
from video iPod capabilities.

“You could probably unload a whole DVD collection onto the
video iPod and get rid of the DVDs, which is pretty much what I
did,” said third-year economics student Will Hadikusumo.

Video iPods offer 30 and 80 gigabytes of storage space,
equivalent to about 40 or 100 hours of video respectively, acting
like an extremely portable hard drive.

“You definitely can’t bring a laptop with you
everywhere you go. But this thing I’m sure you can bring
everywhere,” Hadikusumo said. “When I need a break from
studying or when I’m on campus between classes, I can catch a
show.”

The selection of television programs and films offered through
iTunes grows daily. At $1.99 per TV show and about $9.99 per movie,
Apple claims to have sold about 45 million videos to date.

“I started buying the season passes of TV shows. I have
every episode of “˜The Office,’ all of
“˜Scrubs’ and surprisingly enough, “˜Desperate
Housewives,'” said Bita Katherine Djaghouri, a
fourth-year American literature and culture student. “I
usually don’t watch TV, so I’ll just watch something on
the bus or right when I’m about to go to sleep.”

The video iPod may be one of the best-selling electronic
products in stores today, yet users are still mostly avoiding the
product’s video capabilities. Apple’s concepts, sleek
design and impressive marketing have generated enough hype to
attract the revenue. Yet the idea of technology appears to be more
appealing than the technology itself.

“I have a first-generation iPod, and I have absolutely no
reason to buy a video iPod,” said Nick Siemson, a fourth-year
economics student. “I won’t watch (videos) between
classes. If I ever wanted to watch a TV series, I would just
download it on iTunes and watch it on my computer. And that’s
fine with me.”

As the growing size of television and computer screens
counteracts the increasing mobility of cell phoneand video iPod
viewing screans, the concept of watching media on the move may
still be one that students are getting used to.

“I don’t know that (the video iPod) has had a
significant impact yet,” said Jonathan Kuntz, a UCLA film
professor. “But I think that it’s still very early in
the game.”

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Brian Segna
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