Tag Archives | MP3 Players


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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iPod Oddities

Ten years ago today, Apple unleashed a potent musical force upon the world. I speak of the iPod, that tiny white box of a thousand songs that captivated the world for years after its introduction.

In honor of this anniversary, I decided to look back weird accessories, strange artistic tributes, and other odd sidelights of the world’s most iconic digital music player. So put in your earbuds and zone out from civilized society — it’s time for iPod Oddities.

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Goodbye, iPod Classic and Shuffle?

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?)


Maybe We Need a SanDisk Sansa of Tablets

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

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

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?

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?

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…


Zune HD vs. iPod Touch: The T-Grid

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

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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