Too Cool for Internet Explorer

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Pod Person!

My feelings about the iPod have always been that it is too expensive and that the quality of the device wasn’t particularly all that great. That has all changed with my purchase of the iPod Shuffle. This device blows away the competition and is very reasonably priced. The reason I changed my mind was due to PC Magazine’s Bill Machrone with his most recent column.

Since I work with acoustic data for a living, I found his testing intriguing and greatly appreciated his thorough analysis of various devices. I received the device yesterday and it is, by far, everything Bill made it out to be. That said, there are a couple of things that could be fixed.

Although it would add a tiny bit of weight and make it slightly thicker, a display would be nice, even if only big enough to scroll a word or two of the song at a time.

The lanyard provided with the device is a joke. It’s not adjustable and somewhat short. My last player had headphones built into the lanyard. I miss that. But, unfortunately, I can’t effectively use my old lanyard because the Shuffle has no way to attach to it.

Having to use iTunes to load the music onto the device is inconvenient, although not horribly so since I can just load iTunes on all my machines. The software is free and easy to use, but I still prefer WinAmp to play my music. Apple really should have supported WMA. This choice could hurt them in the end since most other players that support DRM can do both WMA and AAC.

The device also has to be partitioned into the music side and the data side which is annoying. A very simple program could automatically catalog any music files placed on the device as they are copied on and remove them from the catalog if they are deleted. I did find an undocumented feature that, when browsing the device from Windows Explorer, a hidden directory contains the actual music files, so at least I can copy my music files as well as my data files off of the device without iTunes.

If you don’t need a week’s worth of continuous music on your device, and you want the convenience of a truly portable, high quality music player, the iPod Shuffle is a bargain.

» Posted by Queue at 08:50 AM (ET)
Category: Cool Technology


I really think some of your feelings are a little misguided. As far as the physical aspects (lanyard, display, etc.), you may be right. It’s a matter of opinion. I think there are many instances were no display is totally fine.

But, on other aspects, let’s take a look. It’s not unreasonable to require iTunes to load music on an iPod. It’s Apple’s device, they can do whatever they want. If you don’t like it, buy another device. I happen to love iTunes.

While I may not have been so quick to naysay, a friend of mine asked me exactly how many other portable music devices you could name that supported AAC. There are (or, at least, there have been up until very recently) very few that can.

And regarding the partitioned nature (it actually is just a hidden folder…using the standard Linux practice of putting a dot in front of the file/folder name to hide it), that’s designed to discourage (obviously not prevent) exactly what you describe. It’s not intended for anyone to copy music off of the iPod. Naturally, however, I can easily do so with no special software. I just set an option to browse my hard drive and view hidden items. It can also be done in Terminal.

» Posted by Lee Bennett
April 5, 2005 11:45 AM

Wow, so defensive. iTunes is a matter of opinion. As I said, the software is nice, I would just prefer to not have to load it on whatever computer to manage my music files on the device. This is especially problematic when trying to share unprotected content. Despite what the public is told, there is legitimate unprotected content out there.

As for WMAs, a lot of people out there buy their music from sources other than those that provide AAC. It’s only a minor inconvenience to rip those other formats into something the iPod can read.

I was aware of the hidden nature for the music folder, after all, Apple and Microsoft both seem to love hidden folders. That said, I could probably generate my own application to write the config files to the device and do anything I want. But again, my point was, I shouldn’t have to.

Regardless of these issues, I stand by my comment that the iPod Shuffle is a terrific player at a great price.

» Posted by Queue
April 5, 2005 04:15 PM

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