That's enough of the trailers, let's get to the main feature: videos of all types, except for full-length movies, are available in the new iTunes 6, which has been retooled to serve as an iTunes video shop. Within this store, which is virtually guaranteed to explode with content, there are a couple of thousand music videos, plenty of movie trailers, a handful of Pixar shorts (including For the Birds and Boundin'), and of course the highly publicised, commercial-free TV-show offerings from ABC (Lost and Desperate Housewives) and Disney (That's So Raven and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) -- but only if you're in the US, for now at least.
The fifth-gen iPod is able to play video encoded in H.264, MPEG-4,
M4V and MOV up to 768Kbps, 320x240 pixels and 30fps. What
differentiates the iPod from video competitors such as Cowon and
Creative is that legal video is easily available within a familiar
interface, plus the fact that it doesn't take a genius to get them to
play on the iPod -- incompatible video files won't even be
transferred to the device.
Of course, buyable video is just half the story. The video universe includes home movies, content picked from P2P networks, ripped DVDs for (ahem) personal use, and video podcasts. All but the last type will probably not play natively on the iPod, which means you'll have to painstakingly convert the video using a utility such as QuickTime 7 Pro (£19.99, Mac and Windows, from the Apple Store). The tediousness of this process has been a stumbling block for video players in general -- iTunes simply can't rip a DVD like it would an audio CD. Now if iTunes had a built-in video converter, it'd be another story. As for legal full-length movies, they'll come, but only after some serious legal dealings. Don't expect them soon, though that might be a good thing, considering the iPod's poor video battery life (see Performance).
Once there's video on the iPod, you have a full set of entertainment options in your pocket. We love the fact that the iPod will automatically bookmark any number of videos so that you can return to a programme on your evening commute. We also like that you can assemble video playlists. While you can fast-forward or rewind using buttons or by scrolling, we'd prefer the ability to skip back or forward in 10- or 30-second increments. We've seen more advanced video options on portable video players such as the Archos AV700, which has the special ability to record video, but for an MP3 player, the iPod does a commendable job with the video experience.