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Apple September event, new iPods

10 Sep

You can watch the from Apple here. If you have subscribed to the Apple Keynote Podcast in iTunes, it should download the new keynote, albeit very slowly (since everybody is downloading it too).

So, what’s new?
1. iTunes 8
New album display, kinda like Windows Media Player. Nothing exciting. Genius? Remember the iTunes mini store that nobody uses/turn off? Well, consider genius as the 2.0 version of the iTunes mini store. Basically it gathers info of your library, automatically creates playlist based on the “seed” song, and offer recommendation from iTunes store. Currently it’s taking quite a while “gathering information” of my library after the installation of iTunes 8. My take? Meh. Really, Apple has done their homework when they released iTunes, and the previous subsequent updates, to the point that there is no reason to fix something that is not broken. Now, I guess the focus is to sell more stuff from the store. HD movies finally on desktops too, previously only available on Apple TV. But meh.

2. iPod Classic
As predicted, to compete with the new Zune, it is now 120GB only for $249. Grab the 160GB while you can, it’s on clearance for $299 only. Or for a great deal, get the previous 80GB Classic for just $199! Again, meh. Apple used to be the leader, now it seems that it is following Microsoft since the 120GB Zune is available before this event.

3. 4G iPod nano
Apple change the nano yet again.
-Finally full aluminum enclosure ala 2G nano.
-Glass screen cover.
-A LOT of colors! Are you watching this Sony? Me like orange.
-Price is not aggressive enough. Again, Apple used to be the leader, now it’s not. 8GB DAPs have been available for $149 from the competitors for quite sometime. $199 IMO is kinda a hardsell, due to the same price of 8GB iPhone.
-The accelerometer is nice, auto turning screen. Sony, where’s yours? You still have to rotate screen manually on Sony DAPs.
-Shake to shuffle. Huh? Sandisk’s Sansa shaker anyone?
-Not enough features to justify an upgrade. IMO the 3G nano is excellent, aside from the scratchable chrome back. The 4G nano would have been more interesting if it has more aggressive pricing (8GB for $99/$129, 16GB for $149) and built-in Nike+ transmitter. Hey, they put the Nike transmitter in the new iPod Touch, but not the nano? Doesn’t make sense.

4. 2G iPod Touch
-Curved back as expected, ala iPhone 3G
-Stainless steel back? I guess this is Apple’s way of built-in obsolescence, for your device to scratch up like crazy. Boo!
-Volume button. Finally!
-Built-in Nike+ transmitter. Why? This would’ve make more sense on the nano. The Touch is too big.
-Again, pricing is not aggressive enough. The benchmark is 8GB iPhone 3G for $199. The new 8GB Touch is still more expensive, $229. The great deal? Get a previous gen 8GB Touch refurbished from Apple for $179!
-2.1 firmware upgrade for all Touch. You still have to pay for it if you haven’t upgraded from 1.x.
-Built-in speaker. There are times that I wish the 1G Touch have this. It’s a nice addition.
-Nothing ground breaking or new as far as online capability. Meanwhile, Microsoft is doing some new things with the new firmware of the Zune.
-Now, the interesting one, is the fact that the upcoming earbud accessories have a mic on it. If Apple allow voice on the Touch, all we need is a VOIP app! F U AT&T!
-Again, IMO not that exciting, and not a must upgrade from 1G Touch, unless there is a VOIP app.

5. New earbud/in-ear bud with basic remote capability and mic, obviously to be usable by the iPhone too. The in-ear one has 2 drivers in each side. Sounds interesting, but I HATE the Y-cable design. It is NOT practical. I prefer the behind the neck design.

6. “New” colors for iPod shuffle
-Recycled colors from the 2006 2G shuffles. Boo!
-Are you kidding me? No price drop? You can get 2GB SD cards for less than $10 now. Any modern cellphone is good enough to be a basic DAP.

7. iTunes 8 impression:
-Genius, or should I say, Moron.
Okay, while I was typing this blog, the Genius feature in iTunes 8 finally finished “gathering information” from my library. It took quite sometime despite the size of my library being not that big at all. So, does it work? NOPE! Yup, it only works for “seed” tracks that it could find in the iTunes store, even for the playlist creation. STUPID! The playlist creation is supposed to create playlist from the music IN MY LIBRARY. Nothing to do with the iTunes store! Since I primarily have Eurobeat and J-Pop songs, Genius is baffled, and becomes a Moron. USELESS! At least from the few stuff it recognized, it listed new albums and tracks that I have not purchased yet. Great feature to see if there is a new release or not. As for playlist creation from “seed” that is available from iTMS, it’s WAY OFF. The playlist does include tracks not in iTMS, but obviously it’s not “smart” enough, obviously only basing stuff on the available tags. And then there are mis-recognized artists (J-Pop artist vs western artist). A very poor feature. I’m turning it off. Maybe it would work better once it gathers all the millions of iTunes users info.
-Grid view is similar to Events view in iPhoto 08. Skimming works, but IMO not practical for music. Cover flow is supposed to be the “better” version of this. I still prefer the list view, but now I cannot get rid of the genre listing. WTF? It’s taking up space from the artist and albums list, and I always disabled it, but the option is gone now.
-The new visualizer is pretty slick. I never really like any kind of visualizers before, but this one is pretty cool!

If Apple would’ve included the Nike+ transmitter inside the new nano, I’ll grab those in a heartbeat. Now, I have to think twice. The orange/yellow ones are calling my name, just for collection sake. Just like in Pokemon, gotta catch’em all.

As I expected, nothing spectacular from this event. The DAP market is reaching its peak and ceiling for features and innovation. The obvious next step is the merging of DAP and phone, thus Apple probably putting more effort on the iPhone. Microsoft will be faced with this issue in trying to design better online capabilities of the Zune, being the requirement of a web browser, thus the obvious result is marriage with Windows Mobile. Between now and September 2009, this is the best period for all the competitors to catch up with Apple, but yet again, everybody seems to be failing. Microsoft seems to be the only one taking the chance with some new firmware updates for their Zunes. Sony? Look at their even more meh lineup, and overpriced 16GB DAPs. Heck, they don’t even release 16GB models for the new lineup in the US. Creative? Nobody cares about Creative anymore.

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