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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is that an iPod in your pocket or are you just a poser?

I, like many, have envy. I really want an iPod and far too many people I know now have one. The reason I haven't bought one is broadly the same reason I haven't bought a digital camera of my own. When I have money I don't have a computer to allow me to use it properly. Now that I have a computer I'm utterly .


But it isn't just fiscal limitations that are stopping me from buying one. It's also the fact that owning an iPod also marks you out as the kind of person who owns an iPod i.e. an overgrown music obsessed adolescent who ought to stop spending all their money on CDs and grow up a fraction. This isn't simply jealousy talking or me attempting to cover up any lingering I may have. When they first came out the status that an ipod conferred on its' owner could be likened to that of the mobile phone or a . The kind of people that owned one either needed it as a business tool to back up their hard-drive or wanted to be the kind person who needed it and weren't (I shall call these people "Business" Tools).

The iPod seems to have gone through a kind of high speed version of the acceptance that both these functional accessories went through after years of being the mark of a complete prick, probably because of it's stunningly good design and an equally well conceived ad compaign. However, when Levis start making jeans with a remote control, docking station and headphones built in you know it really is going back to being the walkman for wankers. Probably the worst indication of the syndrome is the people that use the headphones that come with the iPod, the horrible little white ones. Proprietry headphones are notoriously and universally bad. The first thing anyone should do when they buy a product that needs headphones is replace the ones that come with it. I don't care who makes them for apple they are by the very definition of the thing, shite. They are also a very conspicuous status symbol, wearing the white headphones is the equivalent of waving your iPod at people and shouting "60 gigabytes of musical pleasure!" in the most obnoxious possible way. When people in London started getting mugged because they were wearing them I was secretly quite pleased (I also wished I'd thought of it first and that I had the guts to try it).

However much I rail against the iPod though the fact remains I desparately want one. I tell myself that I am waiting for the technology to settle down, that the current 60gb machine will eventually reach the size of the current iPod nano in accordance with , that I'd break it and that there are better storage devices out there that do more, but well, they just aren't as pretty really are they? Another problem is that I don't really need one. A 60gb iPod can store about 15,000 songs. That's more than a thousand albums which means unless you are a slightly obsessive DJ you will have paid for an awful lot of empty space. Even if I used the iPod to store pictures it will never be full, it can hold 150 hours of video, I don't watch that much TV, especially not on a screen that size, I don't buy DVDs and I go to the cinema quite a lot.

In any case I'd probably rather have a book than listen to music and the portable eBook reader is still a woefully innadequate thing by comparison almost certainly because books do not have the profit margin of music. Perhaps I will wait for an apple version of the technology that links with something like the iPod (an iLibrary?). Text is a much more easily stored and compressable data format than music, pictures or video. Sony quote an average figure of 800kb for an eBook file. That means that, even uncompressed, you could fit over 76,000 books into 60gb of storage. You could have an encyclopaedia, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a truly vast array of fiction to take with you everywhere. You might just persuade me to pay for that.