Technologizer posts about MP3 Players

iPoddities!

By  |  Posted at 1:48 am on Sunday, October 23, 2011

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Ten years ago today, on October 23rd 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod at a press event on Apple’s Cupertino campus. (Here he is doing it.) It made the news, but didn’t feel like an epoch-shifting event at the time. It was. And to celebrate the iPod’s first decade, our tech historian and oddity collector Benj Edwards has found a dozen iPod-related curiosities–ones involving dentistry, weaponry, and a whole lot more.

View iPod Oddities slideshow.



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People have been expecting Apple to kill the iPad Classic–the last model recognizable as a direct descendant of the original 2001 iPod–for years. Now TUAW is reporting that Apple may discontinue it, along with the iPod Shuffle. If the company’s iPhone event next week also touches on iPod-related news, we might get the news then.

(My classic-style iPod and I were inseparable for eons, and I once looked down at the iPhone because of its comparatively small capacity–but it’s been a long time since I’ve so much as booted up an iPod. Do you use one?)

Posted by Harry at 4:37 am

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Maybe We Need a SanDisk Sansa of Tablets

By  |  Posted at 6:00 am on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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SanDisk is introducing a new MP3 player today. It’s called the Sansa Zip Clip, sells for under $50, and has a 1.1″ color screen, 4GB of storage, a MicroSD slot, a stopwatch, and an FM radio. Until the company alerted me to the news, I’d sort of forgotten that anyone was releasing new stand-alone MP3 players. But hearing about it got me thinking about a newer market dominated by Apple–tablets.

SanDisk’s Sansa line has long been one of the few success stories in media players that doesn’t involve products with “Apple” in the name. The company managed to quietly sell enough players to become the second most successful player in the category, and it apparently continues to do well enough to make introducing new models worth its while.

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Rumor: Camera May Return to iPod nano

By  |  Posted at 9:57 pm on Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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When Apple redesigned the iPod nano last year, the camera it had only added a generation before went away. It likely had a lot to do with the new Nano’s size — and the fact the Cupertino company decided to put a clip on the device.

In retrospect, that probably was a wise move — the nano has pretty much replaced the Shuffle as the music player of choice in most gyms these days. But if a report on the site Apple.pro is any indication (translated verison here), Apple may be tinkering with things a bit.

The seventh-generation nano is said to keep the sixth-generation model’s smaller design and touch interface. However, it will lose the clip, making room for an apparent 1.3-megapixel camera, the site reports.

So should we believe these guys? According to AppleInsider, they’ve got a fairly decent track record. Each machination of the nano has been correctly reported by the site. Want another teaser? Blogger “Anthony” says that he will have information to share on the iPhone 5 shortly. Since I’m due for an upgrade soon, I eagerly wait this post…



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Taking New Bets On the End of iPod Classic

By  |  Posted at 1:46 pm on Thursday, August 26, 2010

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With iPod sales down for the last two years, predicting the death of iPod Classic is now an annual tradition.

Business Insider’s Dan Frommer is the latest journalist to question the iPod Classic’s future, ahead of Apple’s September 1 music event. The usual arguments apply — without Wi-Fi, apps or a touch screen, the classic iPod is looking pretty stale — but his prediction hinges on whether Apple will introduce a 128 GB iPod Touch this year. After all, the current iPod Classic’s hard drive holds 160 GB of media, and retiring it doesn’t make sense unless another device can take the high-capacity throne with flash storage.

I’m with Frommer’s logic all the way, but I doubt that 128 GB flash drives will even be ready in time for the next iPod Touch.

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Are You Sure You Want That New Zune HD?

By  |  Posted at 4:46 pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A former Sling Media colleague and current blogging ally picked up the Zune HD at launch, as that’s how us gadget fiends roll.

I’ve been tracking Microsoft’s hardware refresh as well, but given the capabilities of current flagship smartphones, I just don’t have a place (or pocket) in my life for a portable media player (PMP), web tablet, or gaming device that doesn’t integrate ‘cellular’ connectivity. I also find fault with Microsoft’s ability to more tightly integrate the Zune experience throughout their product lineup – Windows Media Center, Xbox 360, and Windows Mobile. A missed opportunity for sure.

“Right now our product roadmaps didn’t line up perfectly” is how MS describes the current state of affairs. Contrast that with Apple’s more harmonious ecosystem. However, whether or not Zunes are sold out, post-launch improvements are coming. And Microsoft’s new hardware platform is beautiful – both the OLED screen and physical design. In fact, I prefer its looks over the iPod Touch and iPhone (although I’d appreciate physical volume controls).

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Does the Lack of Apps Doom the Zune HD?

By  |  Posted at 5:10 pm on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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T-PollOver at Wired News, Brian X. Chen has posted what’s probably not the only article we’ll see in the next few days that juxtaposes the words “Zune” and “failure.” Brian talked to a bunch of Microsoft-watchers, and the gist of their consensus is that the fact that the Zune isn’t a true software platform sets it up to bomb.

I don’t agree that it’s destined to tank–I’m guessing that Microsoft would be thrilled if it sold half as many Zune HDs as Apple sells iPod Nanos, and the Nano is even less of a software platform than the Zune. But yes, the iPod Touch is core to Apple’s future, and there’s no way that the Zune in its current form is core to Microsoft’s fate. Even in a best-case scenario, it’ll just be a neat media player that sells well.

(Speaking of the Nano, MKM Partners’ Tero Kuittinen has an interesting suggestion for Microsoft in Brian’s story: Lower the price of the Zune HD so it’s a cooler, more powerful alternative to the Nano rather than a more limited iPod Touch rival.)

Anyhow, I bring this up mostly because I’m interested in what you think…



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Zune HD vs. iPod Touch: The T-Grid

By  |  Posted at 11:29 am on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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It’s my instinct as a writer of stuff about technology to compare Microsoft’s new Zune HD against Apple’s iPod Touch. But the more I’ve played with the Zune, the less it feels like a direct competitor to the Touch: It has a number of features that the Touch doesn’t (HD output, HD radio, an OLED screen), a significantly different form factor (much smaller), and is missing the Touch’s single most interesting feature (support for tens of thousands of third-party apps). The Zune has no direct Apple counterpart–it feels a little like an iPod Nano in some respects, like the Touch in others, and is ultimately its own unique beast.

But like I say, my impulse is to compare the Zune HD to the Touch. So here’s a first pass at a T-Grid comparing the two devices’ specs and features. If all you care about is media playback, the Zune looks like a strong competitor–but stick around until the end of the grid.

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Fifth-Generation iPod Nano: The Technologizer Review

It's not a Flip-killer. But it is an intriguing alternative to the iPod Touch.

By  |  Posted at 5:57 pm on Friday, September 11, 2009

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iPod NanosWeird but true: For Apple, 2009 has turned out to be the year of inner beauty. Most of the company’s new products, including the iPhone 3GS and the latest MacBooks, are virtually indistinguishable from their predecessors, but which pack meaningful improvements inside. The trend continues with the fifth-generation iPod Nano. For the first time, Apple’s annual reinvention of its most popular music player isn’t about aesthetics–in fact, the new Nano is the same size as the old one and differs visually only its slightly larger screen and slightly smaller clickwheel, the camera on its backside, and the slicker and more vividly colorful (and, I’m hoping, more scratch-resistant) finish on its aluminum case. But the latest Nano carries more new features than any of more outwardly revised predecessors.

In fact, this is the first Nano that feels a little less like a music player and a little more like a Swiss Army Knife. Much of what Apple has added has nothing to do with music: The Nano is now a video camera, a stand-alone voice recorder, and a pedometer. And the major new music feature–an FM radio–is so retro that I’d long ago assumed that Apple would never add one to one of its products. Like most Swiss Army Knives, the new Nano doesn’t match every single-purpose product in every respect, but the improvements add up to a fun upgrade that retains a logical place in the iPod family even in the era of the much fancier and more versatile iPod Touch.

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Is the Classic iPod a Goner?

By  |  Posted at 11:41 pm on Sunday, September 6, 2009

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Heavenly iPodTumblr developer/blogger Marco Arment has posted his best guesses about what Apple will announce–iPodwise, at least–at its music event next Wednesday (Technologizer will be there to liveblog the news). Arment’s predictions seem logical enough–which doesn’t guarantee their accuracy, of course–and the most interesting thing about them is that he thinks that Apple will discontinue the iPod Classic, the high-capacity, small-screen, no-touch, no-apps model that’s the direct descendent of the original 2001 iPod.

In the era in which the iPod Touch is unquestionably the most exciting iPod and the Nano is the dominant “traditional” iPod, are there any reasons why Apple wouldn’t kill the Classic?

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iPods With Video Cameras? Sure. iPods With Projectors? I’m Skeptical.

By  |  Posted at 10:27 am on Monday, July 6, 2009

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iPod CameraJudging the accuracy of Apple rumors may not be a cakewalk, but one technique is surprisingly effective and obvious: Ask yourself if past Apple history suggests that a rumor sounds like something the company would do. By that measure, the current rumors about iPod Touch and Nano models with built-in video cameras sounds entirely plausible. The iPhone 3GS‘s camera shows Apple has invested in video-recording hardware and software. It’s gradually been turning every iPod except for the screenless Shuffle into a video device. And given that a high percentage of people who want iPods own them by now, Apple could use a strikingly new feature with wide appeal to tempt them to upgrade.

On the other hand, I’d be surprised if concurrent rumors about Apple getting ready to build projectors into iPhones and iPods are the real deal. Projectors may be getting tinier, but they aren’t yet teensy enough to cram into a phone or MP3 player that’s as thin as the ones Apple likes to make. And how often would a real person want to project an image from an iPhone or iPod in the real world? Not all that often, surely. Apple history shows that it’s not all that interested in adding exotic features that won’t be used much, and is almost never the first company to embrace a new technology. (It tends to cheerfully sit on the sidelines while other companies make bleeding-edge products that are noble in their ambitions but frustrating in practice.)

I’m not saying that there will never be Apple handheld devices with built-in projectors, but I don’t think we’re a couple of months away from seeing them. And a couple of months from now is almost certainly when Apple will announce its new lineup of iPods. Any guesses (or wishes) about what the Fall 2009 lineup of iPods will involve?



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WSJ: Dell is Developing an Android Handheld

By  |  Posted at 3:15 pm on Monday, June 29, 2009

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Dell Android DeviceRumors about a Dell handheld device of some sort have been circulating for ages, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting what seems to be more than mere rumor. It says that Dell is working on a handheld that will sport an ARM processor and run Google’s Android OS. It may come out in the second half this year, the Journal says. Or be delayed. Or never come out.

The Dell gadget would apparently be a rival for Apple’s extremely successful iPod Touch–a device that’s been around for two years and which still doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition, though it’ll get some later this year when Microsoft’s Zune HD appears. The Journal’s story points out that a Dell Android handheld would be an example of the Mobile Internet Device form factor championed by Intel–even if it runs a non-Intel CPU–but the most striking thing about MIDs so far is that that nobody who claims to make one has built anything that consumers want to buy in significant numbers. Apple made the Touch into a hit in part by blithely sidestepping all the mistakes the rest of the industry was making, such as trying to shoehorn full-strength operating systems onto tiny devices and giving them lame physical keyboards.

At this point in any story on Dell’s handheld plans, it’s mandatory to mention that it tried making MP3 players before and failed. But basing a new device on Android would be smart (it relieves Dell of most of the challenges of being a software company). And Dell picked up some interesting intellectual property and smart people when it acquired a mobile software/service company called Zing in 2007. Bottom line: Dell isn’t any more of an unlikely candidate to take in the iPod Touch than anyone else who seems to be planning to do so.



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Seven Questions About the Zune HD

By  |  Posted at 6:24 pm on Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Zune HDBack on April 10th, our own Ed Oswald reported that he’d confirmed that the rumored Zune HD was real and would ship in the fall.  He spoke the truth–as Cnet’s Ina Fried is reporting, Microsoft confirmed today that it plans to release an iPod Touch-like Zune then. (The company has confirmed it’s called the Zune HD hasn’t yet said what the product’s name will be, or but hasn’t disclosed how much it will cost.)

The new Zune will have:

  • A touchscreen;
  • A 480-by-272  OLED display;
  • The ability to output HD content to a TV;
  • A built-in HD receiver.

That’s an intriguing list of specs, and enough to make it clear that Microsoft is building an iPod Touch rival, not a wannabee: While the form factor shown in the art Microsoft released is extremely Touch-esque, no Apple handheld has an OLED screen, HD radio, or HD video output.

Microsoft pre-announced just enough detail about the device to whet the appetite, so I’m left with more questions than answers. Such as the seven I ask after the jump.

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Even More on That iPod Shuffle Remote Control

By  |  Posted at 4:22 pm on Monday, March 16, 2009

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iPod Shuffle ControlOver at PCMag.com, Mark Hachman has a good piece on the controversial new earbud-embedded remote control for Apple’s new iPod Shuffle. Folks have theorized that Apple will demand royalties on third-party headphones that incorporate remote controls, and that it might be encrypting commands send from the remote to the Shuffle to prevent unauthorized clones. And maybe even that it was planning to spread such a design to other iPods.

Hachman’s piece is based largely on an interview with a Monster Cable exec; that company plans to make lots of Shuffle-compatible headphones, and says that the commands aren’t encrypted and that it thinks that manufacturers could make compatible headphones without Apple’s blessing. On the other hand, the remote functionality apparently does fall under Apple’s “Made for iPod” logo program, which involves paying a fee to Apple if a company chooses to participate.

Bottom line: It looks like the remote may be a new revenue stream for Apple, but that it isn’t a nefarious plot to monopolize the iPod headphone market. Which doesn’t mean that the Shuffle’s design won’t continue to be controversial. I seem to be one of relatively few reviewers who was sort of won over by it–not that I decided it makes sense for everybody–and I remain very curious whether consumers will end up giving it a thumbs up. (The most obvious way to tell that will be if the design continues on to the fourth-generation Shuffle, whenever that shows up…)



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Apple’s New iPod Shuffle: The First Invisible MP3 Player

The new user interface might leave you forgetting that you're carrying an iPod at all.

By  |  Posted at 11:41 pm on Friday, March 13, 2009

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iPod Shuffle TeaserIt’s tempting, when writing about Apple’s new third-generation iPod Shuffle, to veer towards the whimsical, and stay there. You might compare the tiny player to various other tiny objects, or theorize that the next Shuffle will be the size of a Tylenol, or even perform stupid Shuffle tricks such as stuffing one inside a Pez Dispenser. This is not going to be that kind of review. I found this player unexpectedly interesting, and there’s a lot to talk about beyond its lack of obesity.

When Apple updates other iPod models, the change is usually about two things: better features (such as the bigger iPods’ addition of video) and slicker industrial design (such as the Nano’s evolution from a blocky plastic device to a gracefully curved metal one). The Shuffle is fundamentally different–it’s on a track of ever-decreasing size and ever-increasing minimalism. What Apple would like, I think, is for the Shuffle to be invisible. Not in the ha-ha manner of SNL’s iPod Invisa, but in the sense that the music matters and the gadget itself is sort of beside the point. The new version takes a major leap in that direction, and not just because Apple shrunk its size by almost fifty percent.

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