Wednesday, April 13, 2005

To iPod or not?

My friend George (Mr. latest gadget) tells me that the future is all in consolidation of devices. He has this Pocket PC from Sprint that is his cell phone and PDA. It has free AIM with his internet access (unsavvy losers have to pay by message) and provides wireless internet access to his laptop anywhere. He also has a bluetooth headset and a GPS attachment (OK, that is REALLY cool). All this because I laughed at him for still having his black and white Palm V, when I had upgraded to a Palm Zire 71, just so that I could have nice hi-res color photos of the kids.

In reply to his smart phone, I simply say that I'm not about to shell out $450 for the phone and $10 extra per month for internet access (which is probably not available with my super cheap $9 cell phone plan). I just got a new camera flip phone for $10 after rebates. Then again I did pay $180 for my Palm (reconditioned one in 2003). Now I'm considering an Photo iPod 30GB. That would be another $350, so we are getting in the range of that darn smart phone. What should I buy then?

I bought the Palm from proceeds a digital camera ($210) and MP3 player ($76 for a 96MB digisette player which you could put into any cassette player) thinking that I would be getting a camera and MP3 player in the Palm. With a 256MB SD expansion card, it was a step above the old MP3 player, but still not enough for music, Audible books and podcasts. I am constantly shuffling the contents around to fit. The camera is only good in a pinch, and certainly better than the silly camera phone.

Then I read this article in TechnologyReview.com - Will Cell Phones Dethrone the iPod?. They are right, some things are best when you get the dedicated device. You don't really want to surf the internet on your PDA, you use a computer (although Google on a product while you are in the store would sometimes be handy). You use a real digital camera for taking pictures. And you use the iPod for music.

I always thought the iPod would be so much better if they put a real processor and operating system on it so you could do all your PDA stuff on it as well. It already has that huge hard drive for it. The iPod Photo is cool addition where you can just hook it up to your TV. The screen is still too small - smaller than my Palm. Years ago, I said I would get a laptop when they had high speed wireless internet (a pipe dream when 56k modems were high end). Now wireless is everywhere, and now I have a laptop. Should I wait for the iPod to have more capabilities, or should I just get one right now? NOW NOW NOW??!?!

3 comments :

Jennifer said...

You should buy the iPod. I have one and it's wonderful to listen to the music you like without having to switch stations constantly or skip over the songs you don't like. Plus you deserve it!

moonfever0 said...

OK, I got it and I LOVE IT!!! iTunes is great for those of us with OOD (obsessive organization disorder).

-Quentin said...

Hmmm....I read the article and your post (and comments) and I admit I still have a lot to learn. (lucky for me, I like learning)

So here are my thoughts.

I like the basic disk based IPOD (is that the 4th Generation, or whatever it's called?), except I worry about several things.

1) I have seen so many "dead" devices on EBay and in the hands of my daughter and her friends that I worry about them being robust enough. The issues seem to revolve around dead disk drives and cracked LCDs (I took my daughter's IPOD apart to fix it, and the disk is literally shock mounted by am ultra-thin layer of open cell foam....in other words...NOT AT ALL.

2) The battery seems to be some sort of weak link. I have seen a number of them with dead batteries. The problem is that the battery is still somewhat difficult to fix, though there seem to be several companies selling battery "upgrade" or repairs.

3) Repair of those suckers isn't cheap....in fact, I think Apple wanted like $290 plus shipping to fix my daughters IPOD...and what does a new one cost....like $350.

Ok...so those are not really negatives unless you worry about them. Actually, they will not be issues unless you abuse the device. (and I've never dropped my cell phone on the ground or dumped two Palm Pilots from my shirt pocket into the toilet.....or was that my "clone"?)

So now for the PLUS side (and there is a huge one) I find the IPOD user interface to be fantastic! I mean I have had a couple of run of the mill MP3 players...you know, as exciting as a russian truck (an old Ken Olsen phrase) that were just as rugged too....but they were a real bear to index and access songs on.

Now, I'm not sure...there might be other moer costly players with similar UI....so this is where my learning comes in.

So perhaps it is my being a hardware guy that makes me under-appreciate the beauty (and value) of the software....or perhaps my hardware sense is offended by the lack of protection for the drive/display.

Whatever.....I'm back into learning mode. There have been times when even a cheap guy like me has made an emotional purchase....and with my recent strange attraction to PODCASTING, this might be one of those landmark moments!

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