David Pogue’s Circuits e-mail (free subscription required) relates a conversation he and John Markoff had with Steve Jobs about portable video players that makes an interesting point about the difference between portable audio and video.

Jobs outlined three reasons he doubted video players would ever approach the success of audio players — not even counting their high price ($700 and up) and the time-consuming difficulty of loading huge video files onto them. It was clear from his answers that Mr. Jobs has done quite a bit of thinking about the topic.

First, he said, on a video player, “there’s just no equivalent of headphones.” That is, when you put on headphones and press Play on a music player, the results are spectacular — you get a very close equivalent to the concert-hall experience.

But watching video on a tiny three-inch handheld screen is almost nothing like the experience of watching a movie in a theater or even on TV. It can’t approach the same realism or emotional impact.

It reminds me a bit of the New Yorker cartoon where you see a gigantic SUV on the highway; the kids are watching a DVD on a fold-down video screen, and the mom is saying, “Turn that damn thing down! Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Some media are best enjoyed at rest.