September 10, 2007 9:11 PM
While checking out the new iPods at the Apple Store, I discovered a big defect in the new iPod’s marquee feature: cover flow. On the first several iPods I picked up, scrolling through cover flow would cause the audio to distort and stutter unbearably. Not just a little or just when the song hadn’t had a chance to cache and not just when scrolling all the way from one end to the other. I was just about ready to give the feature up for useless when I picked up another iPod, one attached to one of the iMacs on the other side of the room and there was no trace of the problem. A quick google search pulled up some other reports of the problem, so it wasn’t just something wrong with the iPods in that store, and frankly I was a little surprised not to find more reports given the severity of the problem.
It puzzled me for a while. At first I figured that identical seeming iPods were getting different components. Then I figured it out: The ones by the computers were restarting when they got plugged and re-plugged. Sure enough, I picked up the first iPod again, stuttery as ever. A quick restart, holding down the center and menu buttons, and it was perfectly smooth. Mystery and, as far as I’m concerned, problem solved. Hopefully a future software update will prevent it from happening at all.
Unfortunately this doesn’t change that, while cool, cover flow is of limited utility to begin with, especially so on a mobile device device with a large collection that can only be browsed in one long list. What’s especially unfortunate is that on the go playlist creation doesn’t seem to work with cover flow and that’s where I could most see using it: brainstorming about what I want to listen to next.