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  • Here’s a Better Way to Reach Out and Touch the iPod

    September 6th, 2007

    Guest Editorial by David Biedny

    Editor’s Note: David Biedny is a leading digital effects, graphics and multimedia expert. His writing, educational efforts, multimedia and special effects work have enjoyed global exposure. He is considered by many longtime industry players to be one of the technical and creative pioneers of personal computer-based multimedia.

    Sometimes you have to wonder how companies like Apple make decisions about product configurations and designs. Take the iPod Touch — we all knew a new type of video iPod was on the way, it was only a matter of time and that time finally arrived.

    Even though I really can’t financially justify buying a new iPod right now (my third generation, customized and expanded iPod seems to not be able to hold a charge anymore, three batteries later), I was all ready to dig out a worn credit card and give Apple more of my money. But after seeing the iPod Touch, I stuck the credit card back in my pocket. It’s all about the memory.

    I’m fully aware that physical devices are subject to the immutable laws of the physical world. If you want a big, bright screen packaged in a small enclosure, and hope to have it be able to be powered on more than an hour, something has to give, and in the case of the iPod Touch, that something ended up being the hard drive. It’s not exactly shocking news — but it really, truly didn’t have to turn out this way. How many of you were looking for something to play all of those movies you’ve downloaded from the Web, or ripped from your DVD collection? How many CDs do you own — in my case, the number is just south of around 4000 — and have put in storage, now that all of them are living inside of iTunes, filling up that external 300 gig hard drive?

    I know I’m not alone here, and when I factor in the thousands of images in my digital photography collection, the animations I’ve created over the last couple of decades and the demo reel of all of my visual effects work, it’s just not going to be able to live inside of the constraints of 16 gigabytes. Apple does the impossible, convinces EMI to up the sample rate of their music on iTunes, and then makes it more difficult to get all that shiny, luscious content on our cool new widescreen iPod? I can’t fit all of the episodes of Max Headroom on the Touch, and that’s a crying shame. Let’s not even mention the complete 14-DVD Monty Python box set sitting on my shelf. Can’t Touch it.

    Look at that 160 gig iPod Classic (Apple, is this the best your marketing folks could conjure up?), and imagine that drive in a thicker Touch case, with a bigger battery, same screen and interface. THAT is the device I so very much hoped that Apple would deliver, the portable media center that I’ve dreamed of for years.

    I would be willing to compromise on the “eight millimeter thin,” and have all my important media live on a “20 millimeter THICK” device that was not a concession to design. I would have laid out $500 for that iPod Studio device without hesitation, and without complaining about the lack of Bluetooth or an integrated camera (leave those for the iPod Studio Pro). And I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    And along those lines, now that there is only the 8GB iPhone, tell me, Apple, would it kill you to add an SD card slot to the thing?

    We feel that this would be a reasonable thing for Apple to do, in light of fact that the 4GB iPhone is history; that is, unless you can locate one of the few remaining units in the closeout racks, carrying a special $299 price tag.

    If you agree with this sentiment, we would request that you visit our online petition, designed to inform Apple about our collective thoughts and feelings regarding this idea. Click here to get involved.

    Let Apple know that we feel strongly about this issue. And do also let us know your viewpoints in our Comments section.



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    11 Responses to “Here’s a Better Way to Reach Out and Touch the iPod”

    1. Mush Morton says:

      100% agree…as a slightly crazy person I considered buying both the 160 gig classic and the new touch pod when what I really want is the two things in one device…this is one of these things where Steve Jobs lets form dictate function and in this case it is disappointing.

    2. Karl says:

      To some extent I agree but as the sayings go…
      You can’t be all to all people
      You can’t please everyone
      Yadda… Yadda… Yadda…

      Let me ask you this Gene, are you really going to watch 14 DVDs of Monty Python on an iPod? Imagine the eye strain, let alone the arm strenght to hold the device that long. 🙂

      Anyway… I like the fact that Apple is working to make the devices slimmer, lighter, etc. If they sell well, then it encourages the hard drive/flash drive/screen manufactures to research and develop better versions. For example: I have a 3rd generation iPod which I thought was a great size but now seems like a brick compared to the newer version I bought a year ago.

      So with Apple pushing the design we have better products. So you may have to wait another year or two to have the device that will hold every DVD and CD you own. In the mean time rest your eyes and arm.

    3. To some extent I agree but as the sayings go…
      You can’t be all to all people
      You can’t please everyone
      Yadda… Yadda… Yadda…

      Let me ask you this Gene, are you really going to watch 14 DVDs of Monty Python on an iPod? Imagine the eye strain, let alone the arm strenght to hold the device that long.

      Anyway… I like the fact that Apple is working to make the devices slimmer, lighter, etc. If they sell well, then it encourages the hard drive/flash drive/screen manufactures to research and develop better versions. For example: I have a 3rd generation iPod which I thought was a great size but now seems like a brick compared to the newer version I bought a year ago.

      So with Apple pushing the design we have better products. So you may have to wait another year or two to have the device that will hold every DVD and CD you own. In the mean time rest your eyes and arm.

      That’s David’s collection, but I am a Monty Python fan. 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    4. Griffster says:

      I know, it’s bizarre, isn’t it?

      I was ready to replace my iPod Photo as I’d filled the 60gig drive. I was waiting for the new wide screen iPod Touch, with coverflow, Wi-Fi would be nice (but not essential), and a nice big 80-160gig hard dr……. Oh, hang on. 16gb? 16!
      Nah. Useless, to me and just about anyone else looking to “upgrade” to a new iPod (perhaps Nano users would go for it?). Anyway, I guess that Apple win either way because I’ll just have to get the “Classic” instead.

      I’ll bet money that we will see either bigger iPod Touch’s with more flash (32gig), or more likely a 160gb HDD version within 6 months. At a higher price, of course.

    5. tundraboy says:

      You lost me on “20 mm thick”. That’s a shade over 3/4 of an inch thickness of densely packed electronic components. That’s not something most people will want to stick in their pockets. And the appeal of the thing will plunge precipitously if it can’t be comfortably stuck in one’s pocket.

      Besides, habitually watching full length movies on a 3.5″ screen is a questionable proposition. I mean the hearing loss from the continuous earphone use is not enough? You want eye strain and myopia on top of that?

    6. David Biedny says:

      3/4 inch thick device doesn’t fit in pocket – NO PROBLEM. I contend that most people don’t actually carry their cel phones in their pockets – they stick ’em in a laptop bag, purse, belt carrier/holster, etc. I took the liberty of doubling the thickness – but let’s say it goes to 1/5 inch thickness. I bet they could do the hard drive/battery enhancement in that case.

      As far as watching an entire movie, I would have LOVED to have this device for a recent 11 hour plane trip. It’s not about watching movies in their entirety on the device – it’s more about being able to keep a large selection of videos on the thing. I’d love to be able to carry around my animation work – about 40 gigs of it, none of it longer than 5 or 6 minutes.

      I have used headphones all my life, but understand that the volume should be kept at a reasonable level – at 44, my hearing is perfect because I’ve been careful to not expose my ears to excessive, sustained volume levels.

    7. David Biedny says:

      Mush – I was thinking exactly the same thing, but there’s no way I’m gonna shell out $800 for this combo. That’s almost a refurb MacBook.

    8. Jon L says:

      Hi, I am more concerned about wifi capability, then I am about storage; thou I agree it would be nice to have a slot for flash cards. I want to know if I can get wifi connections from my router in the house and also where in the city and if I have to pay for it and how or if I would get to hook it up. What about email and pages. Flash and PDF viewing.
      Also, if Apple is going to make this a full flegged mini computer with many more programs. I look forward to learning more about it all. I will probably get a itouch over the iphone, as I’m not willing to pay ATT such a high cost for phone service. Why do we have to pay more for phone service than home internet and tv cable/dish???????
      These are my main concerns, as I can sync daily to put what I want on the 16gig itouch. Jon

    9. Andrew says:

      While the storage matters to me, what I want far more is a mail app. Sorry, but I just can’t stand webmail. Even if not planning on using the phone function, I’d still buy an iPhone before a Touch just for the mail app and the camera.

    10. David says:

      I think lamenting the missing slots on an iPhone or iTouch will prove to be a waste of your time. Apple is on their 6th (I think) version of the iPod at this point and they don’t even have an easily replaceable battery at this point. Obviously, their design team leans more towards form than function, and I must admit I tend to agree with their choice as aesthetically Apple products are far superior to anything else out there in the marketplace. It’s a rare thing indeed when any one device could possibly be the device that everyone wants. The first generation iPod was so unique that it was a true must-have for techies, and later the general public. Now, we’re all so jaded and expect so many features crammed into the device that it’s easy to overlook just how revolutionary the iPhone and iTouch are, and concentrate on what it’s not. I think Mr. Biedny will eventually get most of what he wants out of the device (more memory) it simply won’t be the version 1.0 of the product. However, I would be willing to bet that Apple designers will never let a product that is meant to be pocket-size and portable out of the gate at this point that is 20 mm thick (greater than 3/4″) and has poor battery life.

      p.s. I too am waiting for version 2.0 as 16G isn’t enough for me either (but I could care less about flash card slots).

    11. While the storage matters to me, what I want far more is a mail app. Sorry, but I just can’t stand webmail. Even if not planning on using the phone function, I’d still buy an iPhone before a Touch just for the mail app and the camera.

      I’ve always had mixed feelings about Webmail. Currently, I have access to such applications as Horde, RoundCube and SquirrelMail on our server, all of which are parts of a solution. Putting all the best features of one into the other might work.

      But, for now, it’s Microsoft Entourage 2004 and Apple Mail for me.

      Peace,
      Gene

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