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Time to Get an iPod

February 23rd, 2005
Unless, like me, you already have an iPod model that works fine. But the new ones out today are pretty tempting. The new, full-size iPods are 30- and 60GB, both with color screens, and the ability to import photos directly from your digital camera and then view them on the color screen. The synch then works perfectly with iPhoto to store them (though frankly, I prefer to store photos independently, as my local HD space is limited, and I haven't taken the time to set up a non-standard library system yet). The new system would be perfect for traveling--you could store thousands of photos in your iPod, not needing a PC for quite some time, and you'd have your whole music collection there to boot. The next step should be to add movie integration, in part because so many new digital cameras take movies. The iPod pages at Apple don't mention anything about movies, so I presume the feature isn't there yet; but with the whole of the consumer electronics industry snapping at Apple's heels trying to make an iPod Killer, you can bet that Apple will not dawdle in adding features like this. That might also come with what some have been predicting for the iPod: an Apple Movie Store, just like the iTunes Music Store. The iPod is slowly turning into the realization of the "Watchman," the portable TV. Needing only to fill the small iPod screen, even the smaller 30GB iPod could store dozens of hours of video on top of an extensive music collection. The new iPods supposedly come with more battery life--up to 15 hours for the full-size iPods, and 18 hours for the Minis. But what I would like for my existing iPod is simply a more accurate battery display--it is far from perfect when it comes to telling me how much time I really have left. Maybe the new units are better at that... which, with color, bigger hard drives, and much more capability, costs less than I paid for my 20GB iPod. And the thing that is both frustrating and rewarding is that the iPod I have is more than good enough for me now and likely will be for years, meaning I have little excuse to go out there and get a new one. Oh, the irony!

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  1. Enumclaw
    February 24th, 2005 at 04:20 | #1

    The iPods are cool, no doubt. I’ve been debating getting a personal music player for some time.

    The problem that I have is this: I’m a huge U2 fan, so the iPod U2 model is very attractive. Also, the “complete collection” that they’re advertising does have a few tracks- not a lot, but a few- that aren’t available anywhere else.

    And the iPod is definitely the “coolest” player of its kind.

    With all that, though… it’s definitely got some flaws. Price-wise, the other players beat it. They certainly beat the U2 model, which is $350 for a 20GB player.

    But the big killer, for me, is the battery situation. Apple is showing its greed just like it did for years (and still does) in trying to monopolize the hardware and software for its computers.

    What do you do when your battery goes out on your iPod? You get screwed over, basically. You can send the thing back in to Apple to get it replaced, but you might not get YOUR unit back- you better have those files on a hard drive somewhere.

    If you bought the protection plan (and recall that extended warranties are usually a crummy buy, a high-profit item for the seller) then that service is free- otherwise you gotta pay for it. And it’s not cheap- it’s $99.

    Or you can try replacing the battery yourself, but the iPod is simply not designed to have that done and you’re liable to dork up your unit.

    Creative’s Zen Micro, on the other hand, is designed with a removable battery- replacement is no problem at all, and the battery only costs . It runs as little as $225 for the player.

    So it’s a choice- do I really want those exclusive U2 tracks and the “cool” factor of the iPod? Am I willing to pay for it?

    The iTunes or other software isn’t really a factor- I steal most of my music anyway, and any software that will put the tunes onto the player is all I need.

    Sigh. I just haven’t made up my mind yet.

  2. Luis
    February 24th, 2005 at 08:49 | #2

    Paul:

    All the things you say are true, but they are also the most negative take on each point. Yes, the price is higher than other players, for the reason that a Mercedes is more expensive than other cars: TANSTAAFL, you get what you pay for. The iPod is extremely well-designed, is easy to use, has a great software interface, all above the “coolness” factor. Yes, the battery is a cost factor, though you probably formed your opinion from the Neistat Brothers’ story, which was in itself exaggerated by two royally pissed-off publicity seekers who probably couldn’t install a baseball cap on their heads without injuring themselves. With care and a correct understanding of the fairly simple and straightforward instructions, the chances of ‘dorking up’ the iPod are very, very low. And 18 months as the total battery life is only if you use the thing continuously and suffer from bad luck–I expect mine will last much longer than that (I’m almost up to 18 months already, and the battery is fine).

    As for having your songs backed up on the hard drive, that is the status quo for the iPod: your base collection is on your PC with iTunes, and whenever your plug in your iPod, it syncs with your computer, matching everything you did there. Sure, you could do it otherwise, but it’d be a huge pain–you would normally already have all the music backed up. So not a real problem.

    I haven’t looked at the other players much, but I can tell you I very much like the iPod. I used to own an Iomega mp3 player, which turned out to be such a piece of crap, I never used it much before it broke down anyway.

    Talk to some iPod owners before making the choice, and research the battery issues on discussion groups, see what people themselves say about home-done battery replacements and so battery life. And keep in mind that most people come on those groups to complain, not to say things are fine–so look at the replies to the complaints as carefully as the complaints themselves.

  3. Brad
    February 24th, 2005 at 15:11 | #3

    It’s the “coolness” factor that Enumclaw mentioned that usually turns me off things like this, particularly if it looks like that I’ll be paying extra for the ‘brand name’.

    But in any case I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to luxury doodads like this. Do all those people/kiddies out there really need to be permanently affixed to something blaring music at them 16 hours a day? Twenty gigabytes!!! Why exactly would one need to duplicate one’s entire audio library on a music player? I suspect it’s a really small fraction of the users who are actually going to be away from their PC for weeks on end and who desperately need to hear their entire library of songs with no repetitions; otherwise wouldn’t a simpler/cheaper device suffice – just load up the day’s songs each night from the master PC?

    I must be missing something here … apart from knowing that I’m just not hip with things.

    Just whinging.

    Brad

  4. Luis
    February 24th, 2005 at 15:32 | #4

    Brad: I like to have the whole library available because I don’t plan my songs, I just like to decide on the fly what to listen to. It’s not about playing from the whole collection, but rather being able to choose any song at any time.

    Having the whole collection on iTunes and the iPod also means I never have to touch a CD unless I buy a new one, and then only enough to load it onto the computer. It works great for me personally and in the classes I teach, where I start and end the class with music, and can just pull up any song I own to play for that day, somedays matched to a topic that came up in class. One student, the other say, mentioned that she really enjoyed “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and I have the soundtrack, so I could pull up “What’s This?” in just a few seconds.

    But that’s iTunes. With the iPod, I usually use it on train commutes and when I walk more than 5 minutes to somewhere. It’s just nice to choose any song I own on a whim, without having to pre-arrange or futz around–which is why I wasn’t big on the iPod Shuffle.

  5. Enumclaw
    February 24th, 2005 at 15:39 | #5

    >> Yes, the price is higher than other players, for the reason that a Mercedes is more expensive than other cars: TANSTAAFL, you get what you pay for.<<

    Well, in the case of Mercedes, you’re paying for the name- not necessarily the quality. I subscribe to Consumer Reports and other makes of cars without the cachet of Mercedes rank higher in quality studies that CR does.

    That’s my hesitation with the iPod. Is it *really* better than, say, Creative’s Zen (which holds a battery charge of up to 24 hours of playtime and has a $35 replaceable battery)?

    We know it’s cooler, but is it BETTER. :)

    Paul

  6. February 25th, 2005 at 11:36 | #7

    Just realized that I had probably explain that the url I pasted in above is a story related to the ipod price change, and is decidedly not blog spam. Isn’t even my site.

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