When my iPod arrived, I plugged it in and within minutes had copied an iBook full of music onto its little 30GB hard drive. The new touchy-touch buttons and touch wheel work even better than I expected, and I prefer them to the old iPod's turny wheel and click buttons. I quickly got the shiny metal back all greasy with my fingerprints, and the intentionally sub-par (I always assume) carrying case that's included will surely motivate me to get a real case when they come out in June. (L's old iPod never leaves its denim case, and looks and works fantastic.) And I love the cradle, as expected.
The fun stopped when I tried to use it with Windows XP. For one, the software installer couldn't detect the iPod to "configure" it (even though Windows's "Safely Remove Hardware" panel did). After the manager and MusicMatch were installed, the installer (now a mere rectangle on the task bar) wouldn't go away even after many minutes. So I killed it, and InstallShield complained that the installation failed. It could have been a buggy but successful installer, so I continued as if nothing bad happened.
Of course, like the installer, the iPod Manager failed to ever detect the properly connected device. Again, WinXP saw it and even tried to set it up with a drive letter, but iPod Manager had no reaction. I was able to get the Manager to tell me it sees an iPod, but only under weird circumstances, including once when it actually wasn't connected. Of course, it could never actually mount it, again despite Windows's otherwise normal detection. And then the Manager crashed a few times.
As implied by item 1 on Apple's iPod For Windows 2.0 advanced troubleshooting guide, even though the new iPod is labelled "Win/Mac" and purports to work interchangably between the two platforms, this only appears to be the case when the drive is formatted as a Windows (FAT32) drive. Ostensibly Macs can read and write the FAT32 format, but of course the new iPod ships formatted for Mac (HFS Plus), which only works on a Mac. All that music I copied from our iBook now had to be wiped so I could format with FAT32. The iPod Manager could supposedly do this for me, but since it wasn't helping, I decided to format the drive using Windows itself. I kicked off the format, and everything seemed fine, until the iPod's battery died.
Firewire, i.e. IEEE 1394, has two kinds of connectors. One kind, a tad shorter and a tad thicker than USB, as seen on most recent Macs, has 6 pins. Data travels on 4 pins, and 12 volts of luscious juice flow down the remaining two, powering Firewire devices and charging any rechargable batteries the device might want charged. Then there's the 4-pin IEEE 1394 connector, a teeny version found on PC laptops like mine. Converters are available to make a 6-pin cable work with a 4-pin jack, and indeed one is included with the new iPod. Before I got this new toy I asked myself, how could a connection standard that uses 6 pins possibly work over just 4? I'm usually proud to figure things out without having to be told, but learning the hard way is never easy.
Needless to say, I'm disappointed that my new iPod will not charge in the cradle when connected to my PC, and while I'm annoyed that iPod Manager 2.0 for Windows does not appear to work properly, I can't say I'm terribly surprised. Hopefully there will be bug fixes, and perhaps it will behave once I've manually formatted it for FAT32. I'll let you know. I'm otherwise quite thrilled with the thing, and hope to get a lot of use out of it.
Oh, one more thing: The iPod connector disconnects easily if you squeeze the sides, and not so easily if you just pull on it, or try to pry it off with your pen knife.