I Can’t… No, I Won’t Do It

I will not gush over the new iPod shuffle.

True, I’ve never been a huge fan of the shuffle in the first place. I find my music collection to be way too scattered to make use of the shuffle. I want to be able to play any song or album at any time, which means Random Access Memory. Not Serial or Sequential or Randomly Ordered Memory. I require the ability to jump to an album, on the go.

So that’s fine. The shuffle was never and will never be designed for my style of music players but I saw how it could please some people, including my sister and brother-in-law who both love their (RED) iPod shuffles

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that the new shuffle is going to get heaps of praise for useless features.

The size? More storage in a smaller package. Good. And it looks good. Like the metal and the size, both. …but this is not a gush-worthy feature. I’m sorry, but it’s not. It’s a requirement of the media player market. Get a +1 for Getting The Job Done, but you get no extra credit.

The Voice Over? What the hell is this getting news for? It’s been in every radio broadcast since there was radio. But lets look at the feature… First off, you’ve got two versions of the voice. The PC version is a second class citizen in this area and to that I say “so what?” However, since everyone else feels obligated to restrict PC features under the guise of “fairness” and “competition with [OSX]” – be it media player, IM or browser software – I’m going to pull out a Red Card: there should be feature parity regardless of OS, on the grounds of “fairness”. Never mind the fact that the feature is ridiculous in it’s nature. Honestly, live DJ’s have been doing this for years… some stations in CT pre-recorded it decades ago because their music doesn’t change and you can set a clock by it. Know what that type of service got them? New radios that display song and artist information on a display screen, be it portable, car, home, or satellite stereo. Why? Because voice overs for song information do not work.

The on the wire remote? Great idea! Honestly, it is. I spent $100 over to get two Remote wires for my old iPod and iPod nano. Was the awesomeness. I could clip the thing to my shirt and control my volume from the wire, without having to pick up the device. It also enabled an FM radio receiver on the device itself. Then Apple did two things to kill this great idea: a) they dropped support for the accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch and b) they came out with a new model that forces you to use their headphones. I spent considerable money for my in-ear Shure earbuds. I could plug those into the original Remote accessory and have my own preference in headsets while enjoying great functionality. Nope – not in this generation. Now you have to use their headphones to get the on the wire remote feature. And that’s the only way to control things on the shuffle so you really have no choice.

Even the release timing offers questionable goodness… I’ve complained in the past about being “allowed” to buy a Generation 1 iPod a mere two days before the Generation 2 models were released. I was told “you bought an Apple product two days before [MacWorld/MacExpo/Apple’s One More Thing] – don’t you know that’s suicide? They always release new hardware there”. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that there was an Inside Club that knew these things while the masses were allowed to blindly buy at full price. Killed any wonder I had about the smugness of AppleHeads. But I got over it because “it just [how this thing] works”. This year, Apple has updated the Mac mini, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPod shuffle with no warning and without overlapping an event. Sure there was a Mac mini rumor before release… but it had been circulating for almost eight months before the actual release. Everything else came in blind. Is that how it’s going to be now? Releases a la chocolate from the Wonka Factory? You don’t know what they’re working on, you don’t know what’s coming, and – as a consumer – it’s your own fault if you buy too late? Maybe… I feel sorry for people that bought shuffles on Monday thought.

No gushing today; I don’t see what there is to gush about.

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