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July 31, 2008

iPod + iTunes: A completely unprofessional review.

Filed under: Random Musing, Technology — castlewriter @ 8:07 pm

It doesn’t have a web browser. It doesn’t check my email, or show me the weather forecast or stock quotes. Most of the time, it doesn’t even sync my calendars and To-Do list properly. And yell at it though I might, threaten it as I may, it staunchly refuses to do my dishes. These deficits aside, I’m pretty happy with my iPod Nano. I can listen to my music, watch my favorite movie or television show while away from home, listen to podcasts or audiobooks or play a quick game of Solitaire (which for some reason the fellas in Cupertino think is called ‘Klondike’) wherever I like. For a kid who remembers when the term “Portable Media Player” pretty exclusively referred to the old cassette tape Sony Walkman of the 1980s, all of that is pretty damned amazing.

There are things I’d like to see it do, as noted above, but the only thing I really have to insist on is the reliable synchronization of calendars, contacts and To-Dos — and only because that’s a feature it’s supposedly already got. One of the major benefits we’re supposed to get from Apple’s ‘end-to-end’ technology model, where the same manufacturer designs everything from one end of the experience to the other, is that it ‘just works.’ Well, this one little feature, trivial to some and critical to others, just doesn’t work — at least, not enough of the time to be relied on. Fix it, Apple.

That gripe aside, two months and counting of owning and using Apple’s hardware and software on a daily basis finds me a pretty happy camper. Sure, I’d love another gig of RAM in my Mac Mini. Sure, I’d love a discreet graphics card in there, too, or at least a better integrated graphics system than Intel’s flaccid little GMA 950. At the end of the day, though, it does what I absolutely must have it do. Most of the time, “good enough” really is good enough.

Oh — before I forget, rumor time. There’s one circulating that the 4th generation iPod Nano will resemble Microsoft’s 2nd generation Zune in size and shape. DON’T DO IT, Apple! I’ve owned two of Redmond’s little monsters — the first was a 1st generation 30Gb model in black. The thing was the flatbed truck of PMPs — reliable? Yep. Functional? Absolutely. Uglier than a baboon’s ass crack? *shudder* Ugh, God yes. The second one was a 2nd generation 4Gb flash model. It was a little prettier and a LOT more unreliable.

Steve, I beseech you! For the love of all that is powered by lithium-ion batteries, do NOT model an Apple product to resemble the laughingstock that is the Microsoft Zune. Seriously — really, really bad idea.

Oh, right, I included iTunes in the title, didn’t I? Well… um… I have it. What else is there to say? iTunes is basically unremarkable. And that’s a compliment! It does what you expect it to do (with the exception of syncing calendars, et cetera, blah blah blah already covered that) and it does it without a lot of fuss, flash or fanfare. (Pssst! Fix the damn calendar thing so people aren’t reading that and jumping around with their hands up like ravers with muscle tics!) There’s just not a lot to say about iTunes. Good program, gotta love it. No, really — you gotta, otherwise I’m coming to your house with a bag of rabid badgers — and then it’ll get weird.

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