Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

iPod Musings

The first 6 hours with my iPod Mini have gone well, but I thought I’d use this post to sum up my experiences so far in case someone else finds them useful.

1. You can use an iPod with USB 1.1

Apple recommends that you use USB2 but it’s still possible to use USB 1.1 with no problems. You will of course find that file transfers are much slower than they would be using USB2 or Firewire but if you’re stuck on a machine that doesn’t have those (like I am for now) then it’s not the end of the world.

2. The iPod Mini comes with an AC adaptor

I never knew this, and had I known I’d have been more keen to buy it sooner. It means you can charge the iPod without needing to plug it in to a computer – handy if you are on holiday and have left your computers behind, for example.

3. Doing full recharge/discharge cycles early in the iPod’s life extends the life of the battery

According to this iPodLounge article, doing 5 full recharge/discharge cycles boosts the Mini’s battery to 10 hours – 2 more than the advertised estimated time. Which will be good for very long train journeys (although now most trains provide an AC socket by the seats).

Merely having iTunes installed on its own doesn’t work. You have to install both. You can probably guess I realised this the hard way πŸ™‚ .

5. You can browse the iPod in Windows Explorer – sort of

Arguably the iPod isn’t much more than a very small removable HD with a few fancy buttons on the front and so like any other removable disk it appears in Windows Explorer (apparently using the FAT32 file system). You can therefore use your iPod like a HD, or at least you could if the files were sorted logically. Your music appears in the hidden folder ‘D:\iPod_Control\Music’ (where ‘D’ is the drive letter assigned by Windows to your iPod, and the files are installed in various folders below that. It’s not exactly intuitive but it’s one way of getting to them. Accessing your calendar, contacts and notes is somewhat easier, thankfully – they’re in unhidden folders at the root of the drive.

6. ID3v2 tags confuse the iPod

I use dBpowerAMP Music Converter to create my MP3s, because it uses the Lame encoder which is the best around. If you have it set to create ID3v2 tags (as opposed to ID3v1), then the iPod won’t be able to read the data from it. They’ll still play but say you had 4 songs by one artist on it and one of those songs used ID3v2 tags, only those 3 with ID3v1 tags would appear on the menu.

If you’re considering buying an iPod yourself, I hope this is helpful to you. I’ll probably have more to add as I get used to using it, so stay tuned.


  1. Yeah, I did the constant charge/flatten cycle for a few days and I get a comfortable 10 hours out of mine. It does make a difference.
    I gave up with iTunes as I really didn’t get on with it and have zero interest in it as a service.. so I use Anapod Explorer which is just great.
    Two other observations on the iPod mini.. It can be tricky to Play a genre or band without skipping up or down and therefore playing the wrong one (especially on the move). And whacking the volume up high affects the battery life more than you’d expect.

  2. I have converted most of my CD rips to AAC instead. You should try it out. It’s supposed to be better quality for the same bitrate and a smaller size. Important when you are running out of space like I have.
    You can also try out iPod Agent – I use it for getting feeds into my Notes. I read yours in there on my daily commute πŸ˜‰

  3. What trains do you use? None of the ones round here (Cambridge) have AC adaptors, at least that I’m aware of…

  4. Virgin has them all through its trains, GNER and First Transpennine have them in first class on many of their trains. It tends to be the long distance services that provide them.
    I’d consider AAC but there’s a greater compatibility issue. You can throw MP3s at anything and they work. πŸ™‚

  5. I never noticed the ID3V2 problem on mine, but a quick Google appears to show lots of options for dealing with the problem!

  6. iPod Musings from Neil’s World,

    iPod Musings from Neil’s World, things he found out with his new iPod…

  7. I am glad you enjoy your iPod mini! I did not know it came with an AC adapter either. I think I would be more inclined to buy a mini if it was a 6 or 10 GB drive. For now my 15 and 30 GB iPods will have to do πŸ˜›
    That 4 GB HD is too small to hold enough music AND a copy of OS X on it, as I like having a bootable OS X install on my iPods at all times, just in case.

  8. I use a piece of freeware to edit and convert my ID3 tags: ID3-TagIt. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and comprehensive. I came across it one day after downloading some live music using a bit torrent client. A friend wanted mp3 files instead of FLAC, so I used dbPowerAmp to convert the files and TagIt to edit the tags.

  9. Neil, you article prompted me to check out iPod prices on amazon and I’m just trying to figure out the advantage of an iPod mini (4GB, around Β£179) over a regular iPod (20GB, around Β£204).
    Also, having checked out the specs on-line I was trying to figure out if there is a limit to the filesize allowed. For example I am presently shifting my audio cassette collection to ogg/mp3 format an of course – until you splice the file up into individual tracks – that makes for huge files.

  10. Advantages of the iPod Mini over new iPod:

    • Cheaper
    • Smaller size
    • Comes with a belt hook
    • Battery charges up more quickly
    • Weighs less

    The new iPod obviously has more space and also has a battery that lasts longer when fully charged. I mostly went for the Mini due to it being smaller in size and cheaper.

  11. Thanks for the useful advice Neil. It’s good to know that my ipod mini will still work with USB1.1. I may convert up to 2.0 some day – I’ll see what the xfer speed is like.
    Do you know of any ‘dongle / adaptor’ that can be used for usb 1.1 -> 2.0 conversion? ie. without having to switch cards around inside PC.

  12. No such dongle exists. It’s like looking for an adapter for a diamond 4mb video card to give it more mem or speed but it still has the same rgb port. USB 2.0 uses the same connector but a different packet chaining technique. When a device is connected, it sends an inquiry to see if it will respond to a USB 2.0 packet chain. Sort of like ping-pong. If there is no pong, it switches to USB 1.1. Usb2.0 cards are cheap as hell here in the states. I would recommend a USB2.0/Firewire Card, killing 2 birds with one stone. They are extremely simple to install and are plug and play, so under winxp you won’t need any drivers because the system already has a set. I would recommend the IOGEAR GUF320 PCI, i already have one in my older unit, and it works perfectly.