iPod May Be Ultimate Music Accessory

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2001, 12:27
Category: Archive

Despite some early criticism, Apple’s move to release a must-have consumer toy in the midst of economic uncertainty couldn’t be more welcome. The iPod‘s specs alone leave PC users jaws dropped and credit cards cowering in fear: there’s no question about it, you’ll want one. It’s finally a demonstration of what a music player should be.

Despite some early criticism, Apple’s move to release a must-have consumer toy in the midst of economic uncertainty couldn’t be more welcome. The iPod’s specs alone leave PC users jaws dropped and credit cards cowering in fear: there’s no question about it, you’ll want one. It’s finally a demonstration of what a music player should be.

The iPod continues Apple’s trend of cooly-understated efficiency: maximum functionality and power, minimal space. When I heard the rumors last week of an MP3 player, this is exactly what I hoped for: take the size and weight of existing MP3 players, and combine them with the capacity that would finally make them worth buying.

The iPod is all about details, but I won’t repeat the troves of information Apple has just posted on its website. Some of the highlights: the iPod is ridiculously fast thanks to FireWire, flexible enough to work as an external FireWire hard drive (though it’s not clear how that will work), recharges automatically while connected to your computer, and supports high-quality uncompressed AIFF or WAV audio.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of controversy over the iPod in coming weeks, but the simple answer is, for anyone with the money, the iPod is the ultimate music playing device. Let’s imagine how you might use it: organize your favorite 5 gigs of music on your Mac, build some playlists, have those playlists sync automatically to your iPod, and anywhere you go, you basically have your own customized 5 gig radio station, ready to go. At night, while you charge your `Book, you charge your iPod via FireWire, too. As for complaints that 5 gigs isn’t enough, I think that demonstrates that iPod holds the potential to radically change the way we listen to our music collections. Like the personal computer itself, it actually drives us to do more digitally, to push the envelope of the once-unthinkable 1000 songs. But thanks to FireWire’s speed and easy iTunes synchronization, for those of us music fanatics who have more CDs than will fit on the iPod (that’s me, certainly!), moving albums in and out of our “library” will suddenly be easier — and more powerful.

If I have any gripe about the iPod, it’s that the price is high and that there’s no recording capability. Don’t ge me wrong, $399 is certainly reasonable; I only complain about the price because I wish I could afford buying one the day it comes out! And as for audio in, I think this device challenges an audio company like Midiman to develop an audio recorder with high quality A/D converters and mic in that acts like the iPod with FireWire sync, but while still being cheap enough (maybe $500-600) to appeal to those of us between the consumer and pro space. If I’m really lucky, Apple will beat them to it, and release a PowerPod for syncing field recordings to OS X.

Like Apple’s best products, all you have to do is describe the iPod and people immediately want one. Apple is at its best when it makes us start thinking that money is no object. It’s great to see Apple being bold, and (ahem), encouraging people to spend money on electronics instead of turning their homes into bunkers. And, in the meantime, the criticism that the iPod is generating may be just as interesting as the praise: make no mistake about it, even if you don’t like iPod, it’ll change the way you think about portable music.

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