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Apple’s iPod Event – Thoughts and Opinions…

Every year, right around this time, we get an iTunes event. After all, what better way of getting more iTunes-related goodness for your “back-to-school and holiday shopping? However, these events can be a bit hit-or-miss. Last year’s itunes event was somewhat less than exciting, with the only significant upgrade being with the iPod nano.

This year’s event, on the other hand, had a lot to talk about: a revamp of the entire iPod line, news about iOS 4.1 and 4.2, Some updates to iTunes and a new approach to the AppleTV. OWC Chris S. and OWC Michael watched through the whole presentation, and here’s what they came away with…

iOS4.1, 4.2

OWC Chris S: Apparently, these updates are more for those with an iPhone. Fixes for the proximity sensor…on the iPhone. That HDR photo option is cool…as long as you have a camera on your iDevice. HD video upload…same thing. TV show rentals? Maybe if you’re on the train, you can do it with an iPhone, but unless you’re somewhere with free WiFi, I’m thinking it’s pretty pointless if you have a Touch. As for Game Center… you need a network connection for that, right? Yeah… thought so.

Hint, hint, Apple… not everybody has a pervasive Internet connection.

OWC Michael: Proximity sensor bug fix completed? OWC Tim of OWC Radio will be so happy! Personally I can’t wait to play around with the HDR camera settings.  Not every shot I take is worth spending time in Photoshop or iPhoto to enhance. This should make those shots look better on their own.

iTunes 10

OWC Chris S.: I’m sure there’s some sort of redeeming value to this whole new “Ping” thing, but I have a feeling it’s going to be really tough to find – especially when half its features seem to base off of what you’ve purchased from the iTMS. For those who get their music elsewhere—like other music stores or (*gasp*) from actual CDs, something tells me this will be less than useful.

OWC Michael: As much as I’d like to offer up a counter-opinion to  OWC Chris S here, I just can’t. I’m not excited about the release at all. I’m not interested in yet another social media outlet and none of the other features, including cluttering up a list view which I happened to like with album artwork, really sparked any interest in me. Of course, I’ll download and install it on a work machine to test it out and see if I can find anything I need or want, but so far it doesn’t look like this one is going to meet my existing iTunes library.

iPod shuffle.

OWC Chris S.: HA! We finally got Steve to admit people want actual buttons on their players – especially if they don’t have a display! Now we’ve got an iPod shuffle that, apparently is close to the same form factor as the second generation (just with a stubbier body), but with Voice Over features of the third generation models. This is what they should have done last March.

OWC Michael: The buttons are back and its about time this thing got playlists. I’ve ever owned one of these devices, or bought them for anyone I knew. The shuffle always seemed to restrictive for me. I have a large music collection, but understand the idea of just needing a small portion of the library at a time. What I didn’t like was the randomness of the music – I like listing to rhythmic music when I work out – new age as I nap or relax, and loud jams when I’m mowing the lawn. Mixing the three together doesn’t make for a very enjoyable listening experience. Now that I could set a few playlists it seems it may be worth it, as the only way to avoid it before would have been to buy multiple shuffles or re-sync every time I wanted to change the music.

iPod nano

OWC Chris S.: I wanted a nano almost as long as they’ve been a part of the iPod lineup, with last year’s being incredibly drool-worthy. It wasn’t as huge as a Classic, but wasn’t as miniscule as an iPod shuffle. It fit a nice price and size point in between the line, plus had cool additions like a video camera and a radio tuner built in.

Now, they took the camera out, made the whole thing smaller and added a 1.5” Touch interface? Am I the only person in the world that thinks this last bit is an incredibly stupid idea? I can barely hit the right buttons on my Touch – I shudder to think of the nightmare that controlling the new nano will be like.

On the other hand, what do you suppose the over/under is on someone figuring out how to install other apps on the nano (massive scrolling notwithstanding)?

OWC Michael: I’m a little reserved on this one. I will say that as iPods go, I will miss the iPod Nano 5th Generation with the camera and would have liked this line to have kept that hand-held (or pocket-sized), non-touchscreen form factor.

Thinking of this as an all-new device though, it seems pretty good. I always dreamed of having a watch-sized, touchscreen, multi-function device as a kid, and now its a reality. Apple kept the built-in radio in the device, which is a definite plus. The 24 hour runtime is fantastic for a device so small. My reservations however are with the touchscreen itself.  There was no mention of the retina display which would make a screen that small crisp and clear – until I can get one in my hot little hands to take a look at, I really don’t know how easy or clear the viewing experience will be.

iPod Touch

OWC Chris S.: I purchased a 3rd Gen iPod touch last January. This new version makes mine look anemic. The Retina Display on the thing, if anything like the one on the iPhone is drool-worthy in and of itself. The cameras and gyro are nice addition, too, especially with the HDR support added to iOS 4. I’m suffering a serious case of “new model envy…”

OWC Michael: Anyone want to buy a 32GB iPod Touch 3rd Generation? Its been well-loved for the past year, but doesn’t hold a candle to the features on the new model. Hello camera! Hello retina display! Hello FaceTime! Hello three-axis gyro! Goodbye old friend.

Seriously, while no surprises happened to the upgrades, this is one time that Apple has added all the features I was hoping for.


OWC Chris S.: I was really hoping on this one. I liked the concept of an easy-to-use set-top box, but the limitations of the older models just didn’t make it worth my while. Unfortunately, this revised edition doesn’t change my mind much. Output is only 720p—technically High-Definition, but if you’re used to 1080p on a big screen, it’s sub-par. Its setup also seems to assume you have a broadband connection, a deal-killer for those of us who don’t. Though the new $99 price is attractive, I think I’ll save that money, put it towards a used Mac mini and make it into a HTPC.

OWC Michael: Well, with no hard drive and storage, I would hope the price would drop drastically. I’m a computer person – I want a computer integrated to my TV. I know others would rather stream their media, my household tends to watch a LOT of television and at even 99 cents a show, that bill would get outrageous if we switched to the Apple TV exclusively.

Of course, these are just our opinions, and OWC Tim has contributed his own thoughts on the new Apple TV.

What do you think of the new upgrades? Let us know in the comments below.

M. Chris Stevens
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • “Proximity sensor bug fix completed? OWC Tim of OWC Radio”

    I REALLY hope so, as the proximity sensor bug only seems to be getting worse. If 4.1 does not fix my iPhone 4, I will get a refund and buy a used 3GS. Or maybe a Droid X. Okay, probably won’t go THAT far!

  • iTunes 10

    Sorry, I gotta opine about this one. Ping has it’s promise. Where? Discovering music. Genius is OK but doesn’t totally find a correct cross section. Why not let people discover and recommend. Might be good.

    The store has gotten sooooo big it’s not totally easy to find new things unless you browse around the various genre home pages but even then your sorta stuck with a top 10.

    Overall I liked iTunes 10, but to me not a major upgrade, but yet another streamlining.

    Apple TV
    720P is high definition. Many cable and satellite channels alternate between the two and the picture quality still screams of high def quality on all my HDTVs big and medium.

    • The problem with Ping is that, as I’ve played with it, it only seems as useful as the proportion of music in your collection that’s from the iTMS. Guess what… only 2% of the music in my collection is purchased from iTunes. The rest is ripped from CD, purchased elsewhere, are concert bootlegs, etc. If I’m looking to get hints on what music to check out, both and Pandora are far more flexible tools. Now if iTunes offered better interactivity with either of those services…

      As for 720p… my personal experience has been contrary to yours. I watch a lot movies – sometimes frame-by-frame if there’s a scene I want to pick apart. 720p vs 1080p in that instance? 1080p all the way.