Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Shufflin' off the rails?

Apple (not Gwenyth Paltrow's poor daughter) announced two new products at its Macworld expo today, one is a necessary addition to its line that is about 15 years overdue, the second will need to be revamped soon.

I own a Mac PowerBook and like it alot (Free Plug!). I also have an iPod (excellent, more Free Plug!) and bought one for the Monkette2B for Xmas/birthday (whatever, they're only 11 days apart in her case). Apple has always been criticized for being relatively too expensive relative to PCs, so it finally bit the bullet and created the Mac Mini entry-level CPU at two price points, $499 and $599. The MM has the basics that a computer user needs and looks like a pretty good competitor to Gateway, HP, etc.'s various budget models (ignore the clock speed differentials, they're irrelevant in comparing Mac speed to PC speed). I hope it catches on for Apple.

The other item looks cute but needs to be revamped. It's called the iPod Shuffle and is available in 512MB or 1GB size at $99 or $149. It's the answer to flash memory mp3 players -- really small, iPod-esque design but nowhere near the interactivity of even the iPod mini. Why? You can hold about 250 per gig on an iPod so the Shuffles hold either 125 or 250 songs. But because there is no screen, track listing or way to switch tracks other than the FF and REW buttons, you cannot easily access the songs lower down on the playlist (e.g., add 10 12-song CDs to the Shuffle, and you have to scroll through about 60 songs to get to the tracks on CD 7). This will change by Apple adding a status screen or the Shuffle will flop.

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