Attack of the Anti-iPods
Sure, sure, you’re hopelessly, helplessly in love with your iPod. That doesn’t mean your precious doesn’t have pimples. What about iPod’s notorious lack of endurance between recharges, the sealed case that means you may have to scrap the thing if the internal battery dies, and the proprietary digital-music format that joins you at the hip to Apple’s iTunes online store? Apple may hold more than 60% of the market for hard drive—based digital-music players, but even iPod devotees may have wandering eyes—and competitors are crying “Pick me!” by delivering fetching new digital-music players that adopt some of the benchmark’s strengths while offering more flexibility and features.
And then proceeds to mention “iPod killers” made by Sony, Toshiba, iRiver, and Creative.
Excuse me while I top off my “ho” with an extra helping of “hum.”
I’m aware that editors look for a punchy lede, but one would hope that somewhere along the line a throat might have been discretely cleared by an actual iPod owner and the words “Is the writer aware that this first paragraph is largely malarky?” spoken.
And by that I mean:
“Notorious lack of endurance between recharges”
If you haven’t looked at an iPod for a year or more then you might have some basis for complaint. Early iPods ran out of poop after six to eight hours of play. Apple has made big improvements to playtime in recent iPod models. In our tests the iPod photo can play for nearly 17 hours. The iPod shuffle is good for about the same amount of playtime. My new second-generation iPod mini played for over 26 hours on a single charge. While other companies claim playtimes that exceed these numbers by a fair amount—Sony suggests that its NW-HD3 Network Walkman can play for up to 30 hours on a charge—once you go beyond the amount of time a normal adult remains wakeful, these figures make no difference. Plug the player in over night and you’re good to go for another full day of music.
“Sealed case that means you may have to scrap the thing if the internal battery dies”
Or not. A quick Google on “iPod battery replacement” reveals umpteen links to resources for helping you replace an exhausted iPod battery—everything from Apple’s battery replacement service to a host of vendors anxious to sell you a battery and tools to open your iPod. A good place to learn the basics is our own
iPod Battery Replacement
article. Beyond that, the
iPod Battery FAQ
is a great resource.
“The proprietary digital-music format that joins you at the hip to Apple’s iTunes online store”
I’ve heard this charge time and again, and quite honestly, I’m shocked that an outfit with
prestige parrots this nonsense. The iPod supports the MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless, and Audible audio formats. Most commonly you’ll find iPods packed with MP3 or AAC files that have been ripped from audio CDs or obtained from Internet sources both legal and not-so. There is no requirement that you ever purchase tracks from the iTunes Music Store in order to enjoy music on the iPod. If you wish to buy music online, you can either purchase from an emporium that sells songs in MP3 format or use the iTunes Music Store, which sells songs in a format no more or less proprietary than music sold by Napster, MSN Music Service, MusicMatch Music Store, Wal-Mart Music Downloads, Sony Connect Music Store, or Virgin Digital Music Store.
To give credit where it’s due, the piece ends on a more realistic note:
The anti-iPods still can’t match Apple’s ease of use. But they’re getting closer. “In a device category as young as digital-music players and services,” says Kevorkian, “no lead is insurmountable.” There’s more than one way to peel an Apple.
I might suggest that the first way to peel that Apple is to stop looking for mythical chinks in the iPod’s armor and design a truly original and attractive music player that outperforms the iPod in meaningful ways. The competition has had a couple of years to do so and, up to this point, has fallen down in every attempt.