When will the Apple iPod become a viable storage device for digital photography?
I actually wrote most of this story a while back, but it seems to be very relevant to what is going on right now with the imminent release of some sort of Apple tablet computer. If the tablet ends up being a large iPhone or iPod type of device, (serious) photographers will have been forgotten again and we might as well give up and start buying PC netbooks for our needs. If the new Mac Tablet computer is a full fledged (MacBook Pro level) computer, we will of course finally have the device we have been waiting for.
The Apple iPod is a really cool device and many photographers own one (for listening to music) but the device that could be so perfect for photographers, is almost completely useless when it comes to storing digital photography in the field.
Why is this so? I suspect it is because none of the people who are involved in the iPod development process are serious enough photographers (including the upper level management of Apple) to need a real portable storage device. They have no use for storing images in the field, a couple of flash cards takes care of that problem for them, so they see that as a non-issue.
They are also probably too busy to go on long vacations so never accumulate enough images to need a real storage device. To placate the complainers they devised the stop-gap camera adapter for the iPod Photo, but please notice that the iPod Photo no longer exists, the name was dumped very quickly, probably due to the truckloads of complaints about it not really being an iPod for photographers.
The camera adapter also supports only a small list of cameras and does not support flash card readers. Serious photographers do not connect their cameras directly to either computers or storage devices, they use card readers.
To be fair to Apple, all the other portable storage devices (intended for digital photography use) are also less than spectacular. When you use the ones without viewing screens, you get a really bad feeling in your stomach, that you are in actuality feeding a black hole of some sort. Will the images ever come back? A lot of photographers actually use these devices only to create a back-up file and do not erase their flash cards until they get home to their computer.
The portable storage devices with viewing screens are not much better. None of them really support all the various RAW file formats (how can they?). Just think about it for a moment, supporting all the RAW file formats is a constant software development nightmare for Adobe and even the specific camera manufacturers themselves have a hard time supporting their own cameras with their own software.
Will Apple ever have a better iPod available for photographers? Yes and no. I am sure that they will come up with a better solution than they have at present, but I also doubt that it will be good enough for serious or professional photographic requirements. To this day the only truly dependable portable storage devices for serious digital photographers are laptop computers, my personal choice of currently available computers being the Apple Macbook and Apple MacBook Pro series.
My hope is that sometime soon Apple will come out with a very small laptop (a wide 8-inch screen would be ok) that offers a large enough hard disk drive for serious in the field photography storage. Sony has been offering very small Vaio laptops for a number of years, so we know it is possible.