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High-Definition Video Add-on Coming to iPod 113

Rofy89 writes "In about five months, you'll be able to watch high-definition video on your iPod. New startup, ATO, will come out with a sleeve with a built-in LCD (liquid crystal display) screen that slips around Apple Computer's iPod — whether it's a video iPod or not — and turns it into a portable high-definition video player. The HD player will sell for between US$199 and US$250. The initial players will be able to handle MPEG 4, Divx, HD.264 and other video formats. The battery on the device will last about five hours."
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High-Definition Video Add-on Coming to iPod

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  • This seems like a good product in its own right; why attach it to an iPod? I enjoy watching TV shows on my Palm Lifedrive and I do not need to attach it to an iPod to work!
    • From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:50AM (#15790970) Homepage Journal
      "Physically, the device is a sleeve. The iPod slips in the bottom, locks into a USB 2 connector, and effectively vanishes into the larger iSee."

      This device uses the iPod as a generic external hard drive and nothing else. I was a little hopeful that you would be able to use the iPod's click wheel.

      "Most people will use these devices to watch small clips, Scott said, and not the kind of studio fare that Apple is selling on its site."

      So who wants to pay more money for a device that can only play "small clips?" Even in HD, this device is not worth it.

      • It's not limited to small clips. I think they're just saying "most people" will use it that way to evade the nagging issues of copyright infringement and competition with Apple.

        So is this just a way for some other company to bootstrap off the iPod's success? Probably. On the other hand, small hard drives do cost a significant amount of money, so re-using the one a lot of people already own isn't totally stupid. Only about 85% stupid.

    • Because you really aren't getting the most out of your personal media player until you have to buy a whole other personal media player for it.
      • Isn't this going to be rendered pretty useless? I thought Apple was supposed to be putting out a full sized screen on the next generation of video iPods...which I would assume would be HD compatible?
    • It's worth it because then you can spend another $200 to $250 on your overpriced iPod to watch non-DRM video when you could've done the same by buying a Creative Vision: M (+longer battery life +higher signal to noise decibel ratio) for less money.
      • Thanks for playing, but you've just made an ass of yourself and you'll need to go away now.

        The only DRMed video and audio you can get for the iPod comes from the iTunes Music Store. Your existing library of Mp3s and Mp4 videos will also play on it; no DRM. I myself have encoded just under a hundred short movies to Mp4 for playback on the iPod - all of them work fine.

        I am so sick of people thinking that content on an iPod HAS to have come from the iTMS. It doesn't. And saying otherwise demonstrates how l
        • I know how it works. I implied DRM because why would anyone get a video iPod other than to "buy" movies from iTunes? I know people who think that the only way to get videos on their iPod is through iTunes -- they don't understand the concept of ripping movies they already own, so they pay again to view it on a tiny little screen. They're the same kind of people who would buy this "HD" viewer. Don't "Think Different" like everyone else, think "Creative"ly and be yourself.
          • Perhaps that person bought an iPod because it is a superior player to the (Un)Creative offering in terms of actual usability. Of course some people might think an up and down scroling bar works better than a wheel, I haven't actually met any yet.
            • Superior? I actually prefer the vertical scrolling bar -- just hold your thumb in various places to get it to scroll slower or faster... I fail to see how a wheel is superior to an up and down bar for going... up and down!
          • I implied DRM because why would anyone get a video iPod other than to "buy" movies from iTunes?

            Um... 2 words... video podcasts. Watching movies on an iPod is an unbearable scenario. Screen is too small to enjoy good cinematography and acting in anything other than a medium shot or a closeup.

            Television is good because it doesn't rely heavily on wide shots and is very dialogue heavy... perfectly suited to a smaller screen like an iPod. LOTR or Spiderman on an iPod is a waste of 1's and 0's.
    • I'm not trying to downplay a potential accories and more functionality for the iPod but realistically, this thing seems pretty stupid. Maybe there is a up an dcoming market for connecting to an iPod for the sole purpose of using its storage capacity. It would seem more logical for the device to accept various SD cards or usb sticks though.
      Imagine going to Wal-Mart or Starbucks and being able to plug into a docking station and recieving coupons, the daily menus, movie trailers etc.. How about a car dealer
      • I recomend the Palm Lifedrive. It is designed to browse the Internet out of the box and comes with a mini office suite. It has a built in hard drive and accepts memory cards. I take mine everywhere with me and I even use an optional keyboard to write papers on it. (In case you can't tell, I am a big fan of Palm.)
    • it's called brand name highjacking.

      appearently those people are thinking that the ipod brand is so powerful that people would rather pay for somegadget+ipod than just for somegadget, even if only for the difference of somegadget alone lacking the ipod brand.

      the scary thing is, i think they might be right
  • Damn. Missed my first first post by seconds...
    Will it play video off the drive? How will it get the video? If it has it's own drive, why does it need the iPod?

    What is their definition of Hi-Def?
    • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@just[ ... t ['con' in gap]> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:53AM (#15791008)
      Now that I've read the comment (sorry) I'd like to answer my questions:
      It does play video off a second partition-like thing, and through the dock connector. It doesn't have it's own drive.

      Still, how do they define Hi-Def? Does Hi-Def really matter at such small resolutions?

      I thought it was interesting that they are marketing it as a no-DRM device. I want to see how this works out, and will likely purchase one for my 4G, if it looks like it works...
      • Still, how do they define Hi-Def? Does Hi-Def really matter at such small resolutions?

        720p and up is the common definition, and you're contradicting yourself because hi-def per definition is high resolution. Now, at a very small size, meaning a very high DPI, does it matter? That depends entirely on the distance you're viewing at, usually for an HDTV a good viewing distance is abour 3-4x the size of the screen, so if you'll watch this at 10-14" distance, then sure. Remember, you could easily imagine a pair
    • Unless it can play 1080i or 720p it's not really playing HD. It may be playing HD source material that has been H.264, DivX or MPEG compressed. It's not really HD. HD has become such a horribly misused buzzword.
  • ...useless crap can you fit on an iPod?
    • by IflyRC ( 956454 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:00AM (#15791074)
      I'm waiting for the IPod two way camera phone with integrated PSP and 8 track casette attachment. Oh, almost needs to have GPS tracking giving me directions via a sexy female voice.
    • [How much more...] ...useless crap can you fit on an iPod?
      From the constant bitching I read online, Jobs needs to cram in a microphone and an FM radio.

      So I can play junior DJ.

    • It always amazes me when people on a self-admitted geek news forum complain about high-tech gadgets having more features. Should you try instead? This reminds me of posts responding to news on smart phones... "what happened to phones that just make voice calls".

      I don't use portable video players myself, but they seem quite popular these days so hard to call them useless. This particular products seems off the mark (read: lame and overpriced) though... the video ipods already play videos,
      • It always amazes me when people on a self-admitted geek news forum complain about high-tech gadgets having more features.

        Yep, it's geek city round here - but even geeks appreciate the difference between "wow, that's a cool gadget I'd like to own" and "WTF - that's totally pointless, expensive techno-bling"

        Someone elsewhere used the phrase iSheep for people that buy stuff like that - very well put.
      • It always amazes me when people on a self-admitted geek news forum complain about high-tech gadgets having more features.

        It's the UN*X philosophy in action. Instead of one device that tries to do everything (and usually ends up doing them in a half-assed manner), the preference is that it do only one or two things, but do them well. The iPod is a music player (and, more recently, video player). It doesn't try to do other things; instead, it concentrates on doing its one or two functions better than t

  • by crnbrdeater ( 861451 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:52AM (#15790991)
    Should be great for the morning commute. I am tired of wasting all that time driving. Now I can enjoy a feature length film in HD on the way to work. I was getting tired of watching the road anyway.
    • Re:Morning Commute (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jasonwc ( 939262 )
      What exactly do they mean by HD.264? I assume they are talking about a video encoded using an H.264 codec at HD resolution. However, if the movie is encoded at true HD (at least 720p), how the hell is the an iPod going to be able to decode the video? Apple recommends a 2.8 Ghz Pentium 4 PC with 512 MB of RAM and a 64 MB video card or a 1.8 Ghz G5/1.83 Ghz Intel Core Duo Mac. While the Quicktime player is horribly unoptimized for Windows (VLC will play H.264 on much lower specs) I just don't see how they are
    • Dang, you stole my joke.

      I was going to suggest that it comes with a dashboard mount and a remote that attaches to the steering wheel.
    • But how are you going to see the Google map on your cell phone?
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrisxkelley ( 879631 ) < minus punct> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:53AM (#15791003) Journal
    Alright I've argued the point of videos being watchable on the ipod video (others don't think so beause of the small screen), but having hi-def on an ipod sized screen is like having a crappy video on an even smaller screen... Why wate money on hidef for a screen so small? Plus, hidef videos take up much more space than a low quality h.264 mpeg4 video, which.. on an ipod screen that is scratched up anyway, workds just fine for me.

    Now, if this could be attatched to a bigscreen tv or something then I'll think different. But then why not just get a dvr?
    • "But then why not just get a dvr?"

      Have you ever seen a DVR that you can fit in your pocket?
    • Assuming the screen takes up the *entire* space of the iPod (I haven't seen pictures but that seems intuitive), I'd guess you'd be getting about a 6 inch screen. That really isn't bad for viewing a movie on an airplane or bus.
      • In standard definition. You'd have to have some awesome eyes to get any real benefit out of HD though. From the article someone else posted it's smaller than six inches too.
    • Re:What? (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Khyber ( 864651 )
      You didn't RTFA, did you?

      It's a sleeve that goes over your ipod, that has a mini hi-def LCD built into it. But here's my question, given the amount of sheer power you ned to decode and play those kinds of movies, how the hell are we going to get the iPod to even PLAY those movies?
      • by LS ( 57954 )
        Did YOU read the article? The iPod's processor is not used. It is simply acting as a hard drive for the sleeve. The sleeve's processor is responsible for decoding the video.

        • Yes, I RTFA. Now you tell me how the fuck you're going to fit a bare-minimum of 700+ MHz into that fucking sleeve, plus memory, plus the graphics chips and other hardware, into that tiny sleeve? Not to mention the power requirements alone just to decode it, plus all that massive hard drive access to get larger chunks of data so the video can play seamlessly - 5 hours of battery power they say? I seriously doubt that.
          • by LS ( 57954 )
            Well, there are pocket PCs with those statistics, so it shouldn't be a problem. Might be expensive though. Anyway, weren't you talking about the iPod?
  • by blantonl ( 784786 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:55AM (#15791024) Homepage
    I don't see any benefit to being able to watch 1080i or 720p HD programming on a THREE and a HALF INCH screen.

    I purchased one of the Video Ipods when they first came out, took the time to rip 10 or so of my favorite DVDs onto the device (finding the necessary software to do this and get it all working properly took days, not to mention the time to encode MPEG to H.264). After about two weeks I came to the realization that an Ipod for watching videos is pretty much useless for my taste.

    How on earth is someone going to derive a benefit of HD programming on such as small device? When display devices are that tiny, there is no need for the additional resolution. Furthermore, you are giving up a tremendous amount of storage space for a really negligable benefit.
    • I agree; I don't understand it at all.

      320x240 looks pretty crisp here. Sure, I would probably notice a difference if doubling X and Y resolution, and then it would look superb and very crisp. That is, at 640x480.

      If people will be fooled into getting this for a small screen, I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
    • I agree. I could see video blogging blowing up if something like this gets traction though. Video podcasting.

      The makers envision the device as a shot clip viewer. So something like a video blog which doesn't rely on full attention and is short duration may develop.

      But watching movies problematic to me.
    • finding the necessary software to do this and get it all working properly took days, not to mention the time to encode MPEG to H.264)
      Handbrake on the Mac works beautifully. I never did find a comparable program for Windows or Linux.
  • Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@just[ ... t ['con' in gap]> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:57AM (#15791029)
    An iPod condom, to prevent the DRM STD.
    No. The iSleeve?
  • When the monthly iPod updates stopped I started to get worried that Apple had run out of ideas. It's good to see that their back to their old tricks of updating the iPod at a ferorious pace...
    • No. This is a third-party add-on. It sounds like a good idea, but I get the feeling that we will not be seeing it in five months...

      It is also interesting that it is advocating itself as freeing from DRM, as well as HD. Will we see more companies creating and selling open technologies? I hope so.
    • This is a third party add-on it has nothing to do with Apple's creativity
    • I started to get worried that Apple had run out of ideas. It's good to see that their back to their old tricks of updating the iPod at a ferorious pace...

      I couldn't agree with you more - it is good to see innovation like this coming from Apple. []
    • Re:Yay! (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by mgblst ( 80109 )
      This isn't produced by Apple, chuckles, best read the article again!
  • So if a device is physically hung onto an iPod, but with no electrical or wireless or telepathic connections, are you really watching HDTV "on" an iPod ?

    The mind boggles.

    • You are watching it from an iPod. Which is a great idea, if it works. It saves the expense of another hard drive.
      With it's external battery (~5hrs) will it also charge the iPod? Sort of a portable Dock? Yes, I know those exist, but it would be nice to have an all-in-one device.
      What would be neat would be to have this as a wall plug with digital out to a TV, with an IR remote. I'd buy it (if I had an HDTV yet...)
  • You're putting a HD broadcast on a 4 inch screen because:
    A) There's a vast improvment in the visual quality
    B) There's DRM built into it.

    Hmm, I'm thinking the answer is B.
  • by TheRealStyro ( 233246 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:07AM (#15791131) Homepage
    I thought the iSee 360 was an interesting device when I first read an article about it. But the screen is really too small to watch anything more than short internet videos (or music videos, if they are still being produced & shown). I think I would be hard pressed to want to watch a 20 or 40 minute TV show on a 3.6" screen, and forget about a +1.5 hour movie.

    Like I wrote - interesting product with good features. Just needs a +7" screen (& +6 hour battery) to make it a great player/accessory.
  • Does it run Linux?
  • almost there..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oddsock ( 91016 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:18AM (#15791239)
    Now, instead of latching onto a ipod, if it could accept a simple USB2 connected portable drive, AND have video outputs to a TV....that might be something to get excited about.
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:20AM (#15791256) Homepage Journal
    By partitioning the hard drive or memory, the iSee lets consumers store video clips not encoded with Apple's copyright-protection software.

    Wait a minute. They partition the hard drive/memory to get around DRM? How about simply storing the files onto the already existing partition?

    As far as I know, even the 5th generation iPod can play plain non-DRM MP4 and H264 files (within specs limits), so what's the deal with their unit? Are you telling me they can design such a device but not know that you can store plain regular files on the iPod's drive?!
  • a simple and semi-portable box that you can output to a TV. i think that with itunes selling tv shows and stuff a box like that could put apple (and the microsoft equivalent) into the living room for good. maybe even produce a little competition to real cable. not much, just a little. the power company in my neighborhood is offering highspeed internet access and i am really looking for a way to dump cable TV for something IP based and more "on demand", so like my phone service, i pay for what i use per

    • Uh, isn't that exactly what an ipod video is?

      I use the video out cable to power an lcd in the car so my kid can watch TV shows I have recorded with MythTV and occasionaly watch things myself without having to deal with a dvd player and seperate DVDs. Works well for that. I can't imagine ever wanting to watch something directly on that little screen.

      I can see this being a slight bonus for people with an older ipod who want to actually watch things on it during a commute or a plane ride. But for the price, wh
      • Only problem with a psp is that there's a _slight_ space restriction. You can pack 30 or 60 gigs on an ipod, but with a psp you'd be paying hundreds for even a 2gb flash card. Turns out that your $250 psp just turned into $400-500, and it still has over 25gb less space.
  • Impossible (Score:3, Informative)

    by djkaos ( 962951 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:45AM (#15791499)
    Sorry, but there's no way you could you can physically watch HD quality video on a device like this. If I'm not mistaken, technology doesn't currently exist to make a 1280x720 or 1920x1080 screen small enough to work as an ipod sleeve. Sounds like just another marketing gimmick. I bet the screen is 640x480 at best, which is only Standard Definition. Don't believe everything you read.
  • This is much like an article about the underwater hockey association I read today.
    It lures you in into reading it and for the rest of the day you are wondering...the concept is well and the end-result works...but why do we want this? WHY?
    Is there really such a need for underwater hockey and $250 ipod dock/screens?

    Don't invent something for the sake of inventing it.
  • Not Hi Def (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:54AM (#15791590)
    From the product FAQ

    Q. Is the quality of the picture out from the iSee 360i the same as standard television quality?

    A. Yes because the iSee 360i out-to-TV is a standard 640 x 480 television resolution, the picture quality is not compromised. []

    • Yes because the iSee 360i out-to-TV is a standard 640 x 480 television resolution, the picture quality is not compromised.

      And they don't even get that right. TV pixels aren't square. That's why capture cards capture at 720x480.

      Actually, though, you can't measure NTSC in pixels that way. It's effective resolution after a complicated calculation [] is about 320x350.

    • I doubt that it is HD, but that's just talking about the output from the unit to a TV (presumably a composite output), not the display itself. It's entirely possible, and not unlikely, to have an HD display with a SD output.
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:55AM (#15791603)

    Seriously, if they could do it with a nano...
    But their chart shows that only the 2 and 4 gig nanos work, so 1 gig must be too little
    Oddly, no 60 gig ipods are compatible.
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadzinka ( 256729 ) <> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:56AM (#15791615) Journal
    Ok, I understand that right now you could sell shit, if it had shiny package and "iPod compatible" logo, but what's the point of this device?

    From the /. story alone one can deduce, that this device will use iPod just as a portable HDD. Why not simply do away with iPod, and make a device that you can plug 2.5" ATA/SATA HDD into? I bet it would be cheaper and more power efficient. And you could have 160GB PVP, as opposed to iPod's maximum 60GB.

    • You are right. They could have put an HD inthe device but then it would be work with iTunes. The iPod is simply beingused as the interface to the conputer and to the iTunes software.
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:58AM (#15791632)
    .. as it seems the only thing it is actually using the iPod for is as a mass storage device. HD is obviously a marketing gimmick as the screen is too small to enjoy high resolution.

    I don't think this product qualifies as "revolutionary", but then I'm not a marketing droid.
  • I love (NOT) the way that nearly all LCD and plasma products that claim to be HD compatable have a screen res. of 800x600 pixels or something.

    A screen needs to be at least 1920*1080 in order to show all high-res formats. Anything less IS NOT HD.
  • C'mon, this article has been called bullshit even on digg!

    HD.264? High definition on 3-inch screen?

  • Why? Good god, people. Not only do they not say how large the device (or even the screen) is, but why would you even need to play 1280x720 or 1920x1080 video on an iPod? At that screen size, 320x240 (iPod Video) is almost more than enough. Why HD? Why?

    I know why. HD is the new hot tech buzzword. Idiots.
  • The only way High-Def content on an iPod will ever be semi-usable / worth it:

    An iPod that plays high-def video via a built in minerature DLP projector with a super efficient high-yeild LED lamp.

    Point the iPod at a wall, and you've got a real portable big screen.

    It's not beyond the realm of possibility. Of course, putting out that kind of light is gonna eat the battery.
  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @04:11PM (#15794134)
    If you want to watch video on the move, you can't do much better than the Archos AV500. I've had the 60GB version for many months and it's been superb. You get a nice big 4" screen and a lot of storage space. I've also heard good things about the COWON A2. It's supposed to support more video formats than the Archos, but it does look a bit uglier. Initially I had a PSP, which has a great screen (a bit bigger than the Archos, better colour (I think) but poor viewing in sunlight) but unfortunately no hard drive, which is a shame. Still, a 1GB stick can hold a couple of films, but you will have to transcode (re-encode into a PSP compatible format) your videos. High resolution is pretty pointless on a small screen. Until there are some cheap video goggles that give you a cinema-sized screen, I wouldn't bother. If you think walking along listening to music is dangerous, I have perfected the art of walking along watching videos. I just hope I don't cross the road at the same time a driver who has perfected the art of watching TV and driving, comes along.
  • Who read this title as "High Definition Adds coming to iPod"
  • The initial players will be able to handle MPEG 4, Divx, HD.264 and other video formats.

    DivX and H.264 are codecs. Both are MPEG-4 codecs. DivX is MPEG-4 ASP and H.264 is MPEG-4 AVC.

    MPEG-4 is also a container, just like AVI. You don't say a player can play "AVI format"; you list which codecs it plays.

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