Oh, Stuff An iPod In It (10/26/04)

Okay, so we've covered the U2 iPod and the iTunes Music Store expansion, and that just leaves the biggest and best Apple music event announcement for last. We speak, of course, of the single most significant quantum advancement in iPod technology since the first 5 GB model touched down three years ago: iPod Socks.

What, no press release? That strikes us as strange, because what could possibly trump the heady gravity of a $29 six-pack of brightly-colored socks for your iPod? We've never been all that thrilled with existing iPod cases, because they're generally at odds with the players' simplicity or they somehow interfere with the functional design. What could be better than a simple little sock to protect the iPod from scratches while it's riding in a pocket and then slips off easily so you can caress your 'Pod the way it was meant to be fondled? Plus, frankly, our own iPods have been sweating pretty freely and stinking up their iPod Shoes something fierce, so iPod Socks are just what the doctor ordered. (That and a liberal dusting of Desenex.)

Apple, on the other hand, seems to think that the iPod Photo makes for a bigger announcement. And granted, it's pretty cool and all; take a 4G iPod, wedge in a bigger battery and a color higher-res screen, add video-out capabilities to its headphone jack, let it sync with an iPhoto library (or Adobe products or My Pictures under Windows), and hey presto: it's an iPod that also just happens to contain every photo you've ever taken in case you're seized by the compulsion to show random passersby 25,000 photos of your kid dumping oatmeal on his own head. (Plus, you know, color Solitaire.) The 40 GB model is $499, which means you pay a hundred extra clams for the color screen, the additional battery life, the photo capabilities, and the $39-when-sold-separately iPod case that can't hold a candle to the sheer brilliance of a six-pack of tube socks. If you're simply rolling in dough, you can even drop $599 and get a 60 GB model.

Drawbacks? Well, other than price, the main ones that spring to mind are size and weight; because of the color screen and the extra battery oomph needed to drive it, the iPod Photo is a fifth of an ounce heavier than a plain vanilla 40 GB iPod, and a millimeter and a half thicker. (We can hear the pockets splitting already.) There also doesn't appear to be a way to get photos from your digital camera directly into the iPod without using a Mac as an intermediate stopover point, which makes its use in the field far less useful than it could be; yes, you can still use the Belkin Media Reader, but that's an added expense, a relative pain to use, and a method that, more likely than not, stores the photos as generic data on the iPod's drive instead of as showable images that can be viewed in slide shows (but we're just guessing). We also imagine that some people are miffed that there isn't a 60 GB non-Photo iPod available, but there can't be too many folks out there with 60 GB of music that won't fall in love with a color screen. Sure, it may not be worth the $100 premium, but we'll say it again: color Solitaire.

Nice as it is, though, the iPod Photo is still just an evolutionary advance from the existing 4G design; the iPod Socks, on the other hand, are a technological breakthrough of the kind we don't often get to witness. Still not convinced that the socks are the more significant announcement? Then consider this: From a pure drama perspective, the iPod Photo is exactly what the rumor mill had predicted weeks ago; no surprises there (well, except for the price). In contrast, how many of you saw iPod Socks coming? Huh? Huh? Thought so. Punk.

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The above scene was taken from the 10/26/04 episode:

October 26, 2004: The U2 iPod is black (mostly)-- but was Steve's turtleneck? Meanwhile, the EU iTunes Music Store is live, but not all EU countries can shop there, and Apple announces the wonder of iPod Socks (and also something called iPod Photo)...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 5002: Warning: Colors May Vary (10/26/04)   Okay, we understand how stressful this situation is, but if you can just keep it together for a minute, here, we can make it all better. Yes, we're well aware that certain photos from the big Apple-U2 music event show Steve Jobs wearing a brownish-red mock turtleneck instead of his trademark black one...

  • 5003: (Not So) Pan-European (10/26/04)   Speaking of U2, as specified in the press invite, half of the band (the half with funny names) appeared onstage with His Steveness to talk up both the iPod Special Edition and Apple in general, and truth be told, both Bono and The Edge were appreciably eloquent in their praise for iPods, iTunes, and their related technologies...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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