Friday, September 15, 2006


Apple revealed all their new iPoddy stuff this week. They've tweaked their big players and slightly dropped the price. The Nano now goes up to 8GB and comes in different colours. They’ve changed the casing to anodized aluminium to combat the ease with which the Nano gets scratched.

The 2GB model comes in Silver only, 4GB different colours and the 8GB only comes in black. Only the Black one looks any good to be honest, all the other colours look like crap versions of the old iPod Mini. They have improved battery life and tweaked the software, it's pretty pricey though - but 8GB flash memory is pretty new so it's to be expected, I think only SanDisk have an 8GB flash player out at the moment.

Ok, so nothing new - nothing about the iPhone and nothing about the rumoured Virtual Interface.

The Microsoft Zune was announced yesterday, I have been waiting on this and had high hopes that this would be my next portable media player. I feel a bit let down, they are releasing one model and it looks a bit clunky next to an iPod.

Historically the problem with iPods is that you have to do everything Apple's way. You have to use their crappy iTunes software (except the Podcast bit - that's really good). If you are dumb enough to use their music store, you are forced to use their crappy DRM music format. The players themselves don't actually do that much, in terms of functionality they are very light. In terms of form and ease of use, they rock. Once you get used to their menu system. I went from Zen to Nano and getting used to the fact that Apple don't let you do anything cool was frustrating at first but, like the Newspeak of 1984, the mind shuts down and allows it to happen.

Pedr just got an iRiver H10 (I techno-sheeped him!), which is a lovely little device. iRivers historically have had oodles of functionality but with a User Interface that requires a PhD in particle physics to fathom. They've fixed that here apparently, Pedr is loving it.

So, the Zune. I am in no desperate need to get a new player. I need to see if Creative will replace my broken Zen Micro before anything else but the 2GB Nano i have is a little limited in capacity, it's getting to the point where I want something I can carry my whole audio collection around in. I don't want that thing to be an iPod but right now it's the only thing that fits my idea of a compact player. Everything else is a bit.....well......fat.

On the other hand, Zune has Wi-Fi, FM radio and a whole host of other goodies (no movie playback as yet). So I've decided to wait 6 months to give 'em a chance to do something cool with it as it does have an awful lot of promise and potential in areas that the iPod simply seems incapable of exploiting. Apple has decided on completely proprietary methods of Music storage and sharing, as a result they have closed themselves off from the growing community market. Microsoft have done amazing things with XBOX Live in terms of gaming communities and social networking, if they can do something similar with Zune then they have a chance of carving out a market.

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise for complimenting Microsoft but anyone who has played XBOX Live recently will know where I am at. I have played Live a bit at Nick's, the service has built up associations around his gaming style, preferences, who has rated etc. and as a result when you join a random game it always puts him in a game with like-minded people, so you rarely end up with the wankers you often find in various online games that spoil the enjoyment for everyone. Anyway, I digress. I have no idea why I posted this, but my advice for anyone after a small player - get an iRiver H10, they are about 6GB and available for under £100. Media Player is better than iTunes (but then so is Herpes), you just need to break out of Apple's 'our way is best so you don't need to think for yourself' software. If you're after a new High capacity player i would wait a few months, I have a feeling Apple were waiting to see the Zune before the real development announcements and equally Microsoft are waiting for the Apple response before releasing the cooler stuff. Hopefully they will put podcast software on there because it was really dumb leaving it out.

Oh. I really like that the Zune comes in Brown!

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