Rokr: What might have been

After the rash of less-than-glowing reviews of the first iTunes-compatible mobile phone, Motorola’s Rokr E1, you can imagine things were a little somber at this week’s Moto coffee klatch. One can picture a roomful of executives clutching crullers and coffee, grappling with how a surefire scheme could have gone awry.

“But, but, this iPod thing is supposed to be cool, right? And the Rokr is just like an iPod, isn’t it? So, we should be cool too.”

“Right?”

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iTunes 5's folders and you

iTunes 5 allows you to gather playlists together into a folder, but what does this really mean (and how does it benefit you)? Here are a few observations on iTunes’ folder functionality.

The idea behind folders is that you may have masses of playlists that are related. For example, a couple sharing the same computer account may each have their own playlists. Gathering each person’s playlists into a folder can help keep them separate. Or you may have multiple related playlists—a half-dozen playlists that are jazz-centric and another few playlists that are mood specific. Rather than have these playlists trail down iTunes’ Source window, tidy them up by putting them in folders.

Smart Playlists recognize these folders as playlists—there is no “Folder is” condition but you can call a folder by using something along the lines of “Playlist is This Folder.” Using a Smart Playlist you can then parse out material that’s contained in that folder. For example, with a smart playlist that reads “Folder is Ambient Stuff” and “Artist is Brian Eno” you can place Eno’s ambient work (but not his Glam stuff) into a smart playlist that’s updated whenever you toss another Music For Films edition into your Ambient Stuff folder.

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Apple Music Event: Hidden goodies

I just dashed out of Apple’s music event where Steve Jobs unveiled the iTunes-enabled ROKR mobile phone, the minty-thin iPod nano, and an updated version of iTunes 5. I’m going to bang heavily on all of them in the near future, but before I do I thought I’d toss out a few tidbits I picked up after the event.

The ROKR and 100 Song Limit

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Using iPods in a cross-platform environment

In the past week I’ve read half a dozen messages, both here on Playlist’s forums and in my email’s Inbox, about what happens when you use an iPod formatted for Windows on a Mac and vice versa. Time to clear up the confusion.

Windows-formatted iPods on Mac

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Viewing portable video's possibilities

Although talk of an iTunes phone has eclipsed the topic, I continue to be interested in where an Apple-branded handheld video player might take us. With that in mind, I’ve been looking at the inexpensive state of the art in the form of Handheld Entertainment’s $100 Zvue video player, a device about the size of a Palm computer that displays text, pictures, and movies as well as plays MP3, OGG, WAV, and unprotected WMA music files.

Yes, you read right, $100—the price of Apple’s least expensive, display-less iPod shuffle. This price is possible thanks to the device’s lack of a hard drive. Anything you wish to view or play on the Zvue must be stored on a removable SD card (you can purchase the Zvue with a 512MB card, capable of storing 420 minutes of memory, for $160). Additionally, packing the device with batteries is up to you—the Zvue holds four AA batteries rather than the kind of rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries you find in today’s music players.

Before I take another step, let me emphasize that dropping a C-Note on this thing is a sound investment for the right kind of person. I’d happily give a Zvue to a 10-year-old during a long car trip or whip it out to bore members of my extended family with pictures and movies from my latest vacation. Again, it’s One Hundred Dollars , and that excuses a host of sins.

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The logical, literal, and lunatic

Forget falling leaves, waning daylight, and back-to-school sales. Nothing says Autumn like an Apple Music Event.

Okay, so while the day planned for the next such event, September 7, technically falls within the northern hemisphere’s summer season, a tuneful to-do at this time of year can mean only one thing: Only 109 Days Until Christmas!

And, for people like me who are obsessed with Apple’s musical moves it also means The Speculation Begins Now .

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