Thursday, February 7, 2008

In Defense of the Nano: Why Less is more with Apple’s I-Pod

The problem with modern society is that we’re constantly being pressured into buying bigger and better versions of things we already own. But upon closer inspection we often find that we’re being duped into purchasing an inferior or unnecessary product.
Nowhere is this trend more evident than with the ubiquitous little box that has changed, for better or for worse, the way that we listen to music: The I-Pod.


The Saga Begins:
My first I-Pod was a 4th generation model with a 40 gig hard drive. Initially, I was thrilled to have portable access to such a large amount of music. But the technical flaws soon came to outweigh the benefits. Every now and again, the thing would just stop working or inexplicably refuse to connect to my laptop. And over time, I began to realize that I had more music than I could ever hope to fit on it.
Eventually, my I-Pod died at the end. Thankfully I was able to replace it without paying a cent because the warranty didn't expire for another two weeks. But four months later, the replacement inexplicably died as well. And to make matters worse, this was a few days before I went on vacation !!! I shook my head and cursed myself as I hiked out to the Apple Store in Bethesda, MD do the inevitable to purchase a brand new 30 gig.
(Ed. Note Unsurprisingly, the 30 joint started showing signs of early retirement this past December. It was then that I decided to start doing some research)

On the Technical Tip:

In case you didn’t already know, the larger I-Pods (20GB+) are nothing more than portable hard drives with a little view screen and a click wheel. If you listen carefully, you can hear them whirring, and huffing and puffing; making the same noises that your computer might make when it’s unhappy. And while a larger hard drive means that you can carry more music with you, it also has its drawbacks. As the folks at MacIntouch.Com pointed out:

“Carrying around a device powered by a delicate spinning drive does seem like a recipe for disaster”.

That's right ! Hard drives are sensitive to pretty much everything. Heat, cold, sweat, water, soda, you name it; your hard drive will probably hate being exposed to it. And while the folks at Apple designed this world class mp3 player with the active user in mind, the average I-Pod owner probably forgets that they’re dealing with a piece of sensitive electronic equipment.

Thankfully, Apple has offered more durable alternatives for several years. The Shuffles (1GB) and Nanos (1,2,4,and 8GBs) are both based on flash technology.Because flash drives do not contain any moving parts, and are therefore less sensitive to being jostled because there is no lag or whirring,they are much better suited for the average (and abusive) Joe or Jane.
In other words, I propose that we, as music fans, sacrifice our desire for “bigger, better, faster, more,” and settle for smaller models.
Oh, of course, some people will argue:
“ Well what if you wanna listen to a specific song and you don’t have it on your small mp3 player. Wouldn’t you find that to be a bit annoying?”
My response?
“No, not really. Besides, there are plenty of times when I wanna hear a song and don’t have it readily available. I’m used to that.It's not the end of the world, you know?”
Moreover, I believe that having a smaller mp3 player is more beneficial to both the casual listener and obsessive fan. The casual listener (read: most people who buy mp3 players) isn’t really that obsessive about how their music, and probably doesn’t need to have everything on hand. The serious music fan, on the other hand, probably has too much music (in various formats) to fit on one handy device.
Besides, having a smaller I-Pod ultimately means that you have to constantly cycle through your music. And in my opinion, this allows you to get better acquainted with your collection. I mean, come on. There's nothing more irritating than meeting people who boast about having 150 GBs worth of music and are unable to discuss any of it with any sense of depth or feeling because they have no attachment to it.


cale said...

I went from 30GB > 40GB > 80GB > 160GB

Having more space, for me, is kind of the whole point. If you ever have that urge to hear something obscure, it's there. You can handle any DJ request. You can fill it up with movies, TV shows, audio books, photos, and games and still have plenty of room left over for Miles Davis' Bitches Brew expanded edition Disc 4. Puttng 15,000 songs on random play gets you to listen to stuff you'd never normally think to listen to. It also gives you the luxury of just throwing whatever you download on there and then deciding later whether it's worth keeping or not instead of having to pick and choose your favs ahead of time.

Laura Rae said...

i have been saying what cale said all along, just not as eloquently!

i stand by my 30GB, having the mini drove me crazy, and if it gets filled i will go bigger!

Anonymous said...

i'm with you on this one.

i could never fit my collection on an ipod in the first place, and i don't want this heavy piece of machinery in my pocket. i'm not trying to watch movies on a 2 inch screen and i don't need to check my fucking gmail while waiting for the bus.

give me a nano any day.. i'll cycle music once a week, be able to keep it in my pocket without feeling weighed down, and use it for its primary purpose: listening.


mat said...

ipods are a time bombs, apples got it figured out