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The Only iPod Review You Need to Know
on December 20, 2006
I have used the iPod mini (4GB silver), the fifth-generation iPod Video (30GB white), and the second-generation iPod nano (2GB silver), and also an iBook (white plastic). All through these years I have gotten to know Apple's products better and better. But here I am going to comment on the new iPod nano that I have.
First, the good things.
Beautiful design! I have looked at all kinds of mp3 players for a long time and have also tried at least a dozen of them, but the iPod series of products are easily the winner of all. No other products can compete with the iPod in terms of design. I don't understand why all of the other mp3 player companies have no sense of aesthetics whatsoever! If any one of them wants to compete with the iPod, they should at least know they need to excel in design first and foremost!
Superb software! The iPod is easy to use and fun to use as well. I am using a PC. But WMP11 is so unattractive and stupid compared to iTunes. It is such a shame for Microsoft to continue to turn out crappy products like this. We all know IE7 is so raw and buggy and ugly! I have read some other comments that iTunes did not work well on PCs. But I think those people might be just a little challenged when it comes to computers. For PC users with a little bit more knowledge of using computers, iTunes should work just as well as WMP11 or even better. Personally I found that iTunes has a better editing interface when you need to edit album/song information. It's very intuitive and it works, while on the other hand WMP11 is not intuitive and many times it just does not work, and you need to search for solutions on line. So iTunes DOES work seamlessly with Windows XP.
Better clickwheel! No one has even noticed it before, but the clickwheel has been improved. If you look at the iPod video, you will see that the clickwheel and the center button are on the same level, viz. they are flat. But the new clickwheel on the iPod nano is grooved in the middle, fitting the shape of your fingers very well. It's a small physical improvement, but it is indeed a major functional improvement. It makes the clicking even more smooth and enjoyable.
Stellar choices of accessories. There are just too many cool accessories to mention here. But if you have an iPod, the possibility of expansion and extension is just endless. No other mp3 players can compete in this respect.
Easy subscription to Podcasts! No doubt one of the biggest impact the iPod has had on people and society is Podcasts. There are just so many things offered and you are sure to find many things you like. It is just a breeze to subscribe to and manage your Podcasts on your iPod. No other mp3 players can do this, or even if they can, they cannot do this well enough.
Okay, of course there are tons of nice things to say about the iPod, but most people have already heard of such comments too many times before and now I am going to point out some really, really disappointing flaws that made me mad.
Build quality! One word: inferior! That is not a word that people associate with Apple, since Apple tries to look as hip and highbrowed as possible. With an award-winning design, the iPod should at least deliver the quality that matches the superiority of the fine aesthetics. But it does NOT. The first iPod video I bought had quite a few bad pixels on the screen. Some were more noticeable and more annoying; some were less, but as annoying. The other day I bought a 2GB silver iPod nano at Walmart. When I first turned it on, I immediately found out that the screen was not set correctly inside the iPod, and in fact it was so obviously slant! I had to take it back and exchange it for a new one. The lady at the customer service counter at Walmart could easily see what the problem was and agreed to get a new one for me. So it is not that I was fussy or picky or whatever, but it was a defective product. So I got a replacement. You know what, when I opened the new package, voila! the screen was also slightly slant, but not very noticeable, and I almost decided to keep it when I spotted a bad pixel on the screen. It is either a bad pixel or some dirt trapped inside the screen cover. But whatever it was, it was very annoying. This made me remember my first iBook. The screen was defective and I had to call Apple and got a replacement. But upon unpacking the new computer, I noticed more flaws on the screen and on the keyboard as well. With all of these in mind, I think it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the low-end products of Apple are of low quality as well.
High price! If you look at the build quality of the iPod, you have reason to believe that the cost of each unit cannot be more than $50! But they charge $150.00 and more for it! Why? Because it is so popular! But frankly such business morals and conducts are questionable. If you want to stay in business forever, you have to be honest with your customers.
Disappointing earphones! How ironic! Why does the iPod not come with nice earphones? If you ever tried the Creative Zen and iRiver Clix players you would hear the difference. The earphones that come with the iPod are beautifully designed, and they have nice clear sound. But the bass is so lacking and so weak that when I listened to some songs with rich bass lines they all sounded muddy and crisp. Well the word crisp might be a good word in other contexts but not when you are talking about bass performance. I have read quite a few "authoritative" reviews of the iPod mp3 players, and most of them laud the "beautiful sound quality" of the iPod. But may I disagree? With a price tag like that, and a hip profile like that, how could the earphones not live up to expections? The fact is they do not. I am by no means an audiophile, but I can tell which earphones are better. I can only say that the Apple earphones are just mediocre. Speaking of this, I think of the iPod Hi-Fi. I played with it in an Apple store, and it made me extremely disappointed. Again the performance of the iPod Hi-Fi fell short of my expectations. And again the culprit was the bass performance. It just sounded muddy and incompetent! Yesterday I played with a JBL Time Machine Alarm CLOCK/DOCK For iPod (white), and I was really impressed. I like it, and recommend it to anyone who is serious about sound when it comes to sound anyway.
I like Apple and its products, but I am also deeply disappointed.