Apple does a lot of things right with results that often serve up unintended positive consequences, Stephan Somogyi writes in a ZDNet AnchorDesk column.
For instance, the iPod is the first — and so far the only–MP3 player done right, he adds. But whether Apple intended it that way or not, the device encourages you to listen to higher-quality music, Somogyi says.
Until he got an iPod, he encoded his CDs at 128 kilobits per second, partially because he was playing music on a Rio 500 and that was the highest bit rate it could handle while carrying a “reasonable collection” of tunes.
“Then I switched to the iPod,” Somogyi said. “Despite having 5GB of space, I didn’t smoosh as many songs onto it as I could. Instead, I re-encoded most of my music at 160kbps, but this time at the maximum variable bit rate. That means the encoder uses at least 160kbps of bandwidth at minimum but can burst up to 320kbps if needed to provide more fidelity. I can fit ‘only’ 800 or so songs into my 5GB iPod, but they sure sound a lot better.”
Then there’s the new iMac’s movable display. Not only are the visual and ergonomic benefits of the LCD vs. the CRT well known, but the iMac’s display is a “dynamic object,” Somogyi writes.
“When I first saw the iMac, I immediately understood how easy it would be to adjust the display when I was first setting up the system. But I was still locked into my adjust-once mindset, and had no inkling about how often I would find myself adjusting the display,” he adds.
The columnist believes that form should follow function. That’s why he’s pleasantly surprised with the side effects of Apple products, such as higher music quality and ease of frequent adjustment.
“Those effects may not have been foremost among the Apple design team’s list of priorities,” Somogyi says. “But the secondary design effects are at least as important to me as the primary.”