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Sunday, July 22, 2007

SUPER Rant: Un-Apple-d

For years, the iPod phenomenon has gripped most of the Earth’s population and it has refused to let go amid the fierce competition from other media player makers like Creative and Samsung. At every turn you make, on every train you travel on, on every bus you take, the sight of iPods greets you. The iPod’s distinctive click wheel appears as the man sitting beside you in the train takes out his iPod and with a single rounded-swipe of the click wheel, he slips his iPod back into his pocket elegantly. I have tried my hands on both the iPod Nano and iPod Video through my friends before and I have to admit that the navigation is intuitive. In fact, I like the navigation system more than my Creative Zen Neeon player’s, which I use to painstakingly scroll through my huge song list frequently. There is no denying that iPods are simple to use and that is one of the several reasons why so many people around the world worship iPods. But why, and why hasn’t the iPod caught me yet? I do not feel tempted to buy any iPod device. I stay away from them when I want to consider buying a better media player with more storage space. Yes, the masses have their iPods to cement their status as ‘cool’ people, but I could not care less.

^ Too simple, too plain?

Perhaps iPods are not my cup of tea. Wait, of course they are not. The iPod shuffle is the least costly of all the iPods and its redesign has made it look even more aesthetically appealing, but no, I would definitely not buy it. A MP3 player without a screen or whatsoever is just as useless as a piece of burnt paper. And that’s not forgetting that I can get the Creative Zen Stone (screen-less) or Zen Stone Plus for so much cheaper – with more features packed-in as well. Then you may ask: Why wouldn’t you get the iPod Nano? Similarly, I think that the iPod Nano just got more beautiful with that redesign, but probably not enough. If I wanted more features, wouldn’t the iPod Video come into my mind? No again. IPods were lavished with endless praises from numerous reports, hardware reviews and people that its design is one-of-its-kind, out-of-this-world, exceptionally chic, but my thinking points out otherwise. Instead, I feel that iPods have one of the simplest, most plain and boring designs. Okay, it would have been better if Apple provided different designs for its media players like what Creative, Samsung, Sony are constantly doing, but Apple did not. There is no design variety in iPods – every ipod model looks the same; there are no varying models that have different designs. That being said, it is a love or hate affair with the iPods. If you love the simple, straight-forward design with the focus on the click wheel of the iPods, then you will love iPods and would rush right to the stores to buy almost anything that Apple releases. But I admit: There is no way I can like the design of iPods. It is too simple, plain and boring for my taste and sometimes, I just wish Apple can give me more choices by adding in a new iPod model with a new design. Perhaps one that is a little more sophiscated-looking, but still as intuitive to use? Give me a Samsung K3 MP3 player any day and I will say it looks better and ‘cooler’ than the current generation of iPods.

^ Handsome with impressive touch-screen, but no MMS and costs an arm and a leg

The design factor is one thing, but when you are a student on a budget like me, another thing comes into play: price. I can certainly tell you that iPods fare badly on this one, and I am sure many others would also agree with me. The price is steep, yes, even overpriced do I feel. Somehow, other manufacturers just do not charge as much as Apple does. And please, I love built-in radio in my media player. IPods do not offer me that built-in option? Yeah, no. Another example in which Apple products are overpriced lies in the iPhone – Apple makes a profit margin of greater than 50% on every iPhone sold. Well, at least I like the iPhone better – it’s much more handsome than the iPods and it has that cool touch-screen technology. For example, to enlarge a picture, I can make a pinching motion with my fingers on the screen and the image will be zoomed in. BUT for my generation of people who are weaned on feature-packed phones which also have nice designs, iPhone just isn’t it. No MMS!?! This is total crap. I cannot record a video with the iPhone as well. Sure it has e-mail, but I prefer MMS, nevertheless. I will not be buying iPhone – it lacks some basic functions that are present in today’s phones (though some impressive technologies are present in the phone) and (especially) it is too expensive.

^ Where are my games?
Did I just say Mac? Oh yes, I did. The last major business that Apple is involved in – the PC market. Although Microsoft is still the market leader with Windows powering most of the world’s computers, Apple’s Mac platform is gradually gaining popularity and software support from developers. However, there still seems to be a barrier between me and the Mac. Most of the PC games that are already out or are coming out can’t be played on a Mac OS – and that hurts. Typical of an Apple product, Macs cost a bomb. Take those MacBook notebooks for example – their prices soar above those of other notebook producers’. I had some brief moments with Macs before, and as it goes, these short experiences with the machines and the Apple software did little to allow me to fully understand what the Mac is all about. The computers have a clean-cut design, but again, I would like to see Apple provide more design variety for the consumers. Currently, I have 2 PCs running Windows XP and 1 running Windows Vista.

Of all the Apple products, you can say I like the iPods the least, while I am sitting on the fence when it comes to the iPhone and the Mac. I don’t quite favor them, but neither do I dislike them. In the future, I would like to see Apple lowering the prices of their products, so that they will be more affordable and provide more design options for consumers. I don’t want to have only a single design for the iPods or for the Macs or even for the iPhone. Give consumers more variety. For now, I will just retreat into my un-apple-d world of gadgets and software.


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