Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I have iTunes on my PC and laptop, because it was free software. I've downloaded a total of perhaps 50 songs from iTunes over the past two years, mainly because I did not want to buy an entire CD's to get one or two favorite songs. But I do not want an iPod, not now, probably not ever.
Why so negative towards the humble iPod? Simple: It's an over-priced peice of junk. And the iTunes are also, each and every song, overpriced pieces of junk. But let me tell you what I really think...
I set up an iPod for a relative, and was shocked to see that the two gigabyte model was really only a 1.7 gigabyte model. In other words, Apple rounds up when they advertise these things. What's a mere 0.3 gigabyes? Well, measured in songs, about 40 songs worth of space missing, or enough for a small video or movie clip.
For reasons of appearance, the iPod battery is built-in, unremovable. Batteries always go bad, always. Hence, when the battery does go bad on the iPod, it becomes a truly worthless piece of junk, especially since this will probably happen soon after your very short warrenty expires.
And let's talk accessories...the cheapest set of speakers I could find for the iPod, including a little docking port, was $70.00. I can get speakers of equal or better quality for my PC or laptop for a mere $20.00 to $25.00. What's the difference? My PC and laptop don't need a licensing agreement from Apple to have external speakers.
You can get a "universal dock" for your iPod, for just a mere $39 USD, that will allow your iPod to connect to any stereo that uses RCA jacks, or a TV that has an "S-video" input. But what do you get when you buy a "universal dock?" Basically a piece of plastic that acts like a stand for your iPod. If you actually want cables to connect your iPod dock to your TV, stereo, electrical supply or computer....that's all extra. And if you want a remote control for your iPod, that's extra too. By the time you get a "universal dock" a cable, and a remote control, you've spent an extra $100 just to listen to poor quality songs from your stereo system.
But worse than even the iPod are the iTunes. If there were any service that deserves the slogan "pay more and get less" it would be iTunes. Why do I say that? Because for $0.99 USD per song, you get a track that sounds like it's being played over AM radio. In other words, the audio quality sucks. The worst CD in my collection sounds better than the best iTune. I buy iTunes for convenience, not sound quality, and due to the poor sound quality I own no more than 50 songs from iTunes that I've purchased in the past two years. (In contrast to the hundreds of songs I've purchased during the same time through buying CD's and DVD's.) If the iTune price were more like $0.39 a song or less, I wouldn't complain....but paying more than CD prices for AM radio quality just doesn't cut it for me.
I have a decent size CD collection, and every CD I own can be played on every CD player made, with no restrictions. Shoot, I can even play them on PC's and DVD's players. But just try to play your little iTune in an MP3 player or software program that's not from Apple: it won't work. So I'm stuck playing my little iTunes on my PC, on my iTunes sofware, and that's it. There are some CD and DVD players out there that can play MP3's....but Apple's iTunes are not real MP3's....they are a propriatrary audio format only supported by Apple hardware and software. Hence, it's the most restrictive music format in existance, not that I would want to play iTunes on a hi-fi stereo anyway....ouch!
On a positive note, I do believe that the iPod's design and implementation to be one of the best ever in American industrial history. I also think iTunes is a fabulous way to conduct informal music research. But these good points do not outweigh the bad.
So from my point of view, the whole iPod thing is just another in a long line of consumer electronic fads, one that will get old just like the rest of them, unless they start slashing those iTune prices, and let gadgets other than those with the Apple name on them play that iTtune. (I'd also like to see an improvement in the sound quality, but that might be asking for too much.)