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ATPM 11.08
August 2005


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Pod People

by Eric Blair,

I admit it. Back in October, 2001, I was one of the haters. Before Apple’s much-hyped announcement of what would eventually be known as the iPod, I made the following statement on the ATPM staff mailing list as to why I wasn’t expecting any sort of PDA or portable music player:

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think that Apple tosses around the word “revolutionary” lightly—the iBook and TiBook revs weren’t revolutionary, for instance. I’m almost expecting something entirely new or a radically different way of doing something that already exists.

Once we learned the details of the iPod, I still wasn’t convinced. An overpriced MP3 players that worked with less than 5% of the computer market was supposed to be revolutionary? Personally, I thought the biggest impact of the iPod’s release would be that the press stopped salivating whenever Apple issued a vaguely-worded press release.

Within a few months, it was clear that I’d been mistaken. For the record, I like my crow grilled, with a hint of mesquite.

Joining the In Crowd

Although I was wrong about the iPod’s high price preventing it from taking over the portable music player market, it did prevent my from joining the revolution until May of 2003. Around the same time I started to feel like I could afford the world’s best portable music player (and why buy anything but the best?), I started to hear rumblings about the imminent release of a revised iPod.

On Monday, April 28th, Steve Jobs announced the 3G iPod. On Friday, May 2, the new models went on sale and I headed to the Apple Store at the Rockingham Mall. Half an hour after arriving, I walked out of the store, the proud owner of a 30 GB iPod.

Once I had my own iPod, I went rather iPod-crazy. If there was something I could do with my iPod, then I did it. Naturally, my music almost immediately found it’s way onto my new toy. Since I’d recently been burned by laundering my cell phone, all my contacts were added to Address Book and synced to my iPod. A “Soccer” category was added to iCal so I could track the games I was scheduled to referee, and these events were also copied to my iPod. I even spent a good deal of time writing an application to work with the iPod’s Notes feature, but that sort of fell by the wayside, though I do still keep the code handy.

Lately, my iPod usage has been mostly limited to playing back my music collection, though the contact feature comes in handy for those occasions when I forget my cell phone.

Listening Habits

It would be fair to say that I’m a packrat with sporadic organizational skills. Typically, my CD collection is organized alphabetically by artist, then sorted by release date. My iTunes collection, however, lacks anything resembling this level of organization. My permanent playlists are limited to songs I’ve recently added to iTunes without playing, iTMS tracks that I haven’t backed-up, and MP3s that I haven’t re-ripped as AAC files. Basically, I use my iPod as a large-capacity shuffle, though I occasionally get the urge to hear a particular album or build an On-The-Go playlist.

As I’ve ripped pretty much every CD I’ve ever owned, this has led to some interesting reactions. Plenty of times, a particular track has come up and forced me to think “Wait, I paid for this crap?!?” Other times, friends have looked through my music collection and stopped when they stumbled across a particular artist—no, I don’t particularly like Rammstein or Jamiroquai, their tracks just came on CDs that I bought, so stop giving me that look.

For the record, I more of a rock-type guy, both classic and modern, though iTunes wants to classify some of of my favorite artists as “Alternative.” Personally, I thought Alternative stopped being alternative back in the late-90s, but what do I know?


I’ve almost never liked earbuds, so I was somewhat surprised when I regularly used the the iPod’s bundled headphones for almost a year and a half. I actually started to phase-out the earbuds after the first time I tried running with my iPod—the buds kept falling out of my ears.

To address this, I picked up a pair of Sony MDR-G52 behind-the-neck headphones. These headphones have served me fairly well over the the past few years, finding use both while I exercise and in quieter environments. I’ve beat on the headphones a decent amount, regularly tossing them in my gym bag, but they’ve held up quite well.

My only complaint about the Sony headphones is that they don’t work particularly well with certain eyeglasses—the MDR-G52’s ear clips sit in basically the same place as the temples on many glasses. If I use the Sony headphones while wearing my corrective lenses, I’m faced with the choice of wearing said glasses incorrectly or having the temples pushed into the side of my head. My sunglasses, which feature a different temple design, do not have this issue.

For louder environments, I’ve switched to the Sennheiser PXC 250 headphones. These noise-canceling headphones feature the same folding design as the PX 100 reviewed in our last issue.

Having used both the PXC 250 and a variant of the Bose Noise Canceling headphones an airplanes, I’ll admit that the open-air Sennheisers do not block as much noise the ear-covering models that are available. However, they do an admirable job of blocking out the sound of equipment and polite coworkers at my office (persistent coworkers will be able to overcome any noise canceling technology, however).

The sound quality on the PXC 250 is quite good, and I actually think they sound better with the noise canceling feature active—the music just sounds richer in this mode, though I clearly don’t have the same ear as some of my acquaintances.

The PXC 250s include a soft case and adapters for connecting to the headphones to .5" stereo jacks and airplane headphone jacks. Additionally, the case contains sufficient room to hold my iPod Remote, which I often use when blindly shuffling through my music collection.

My only concern about the Sennheisers is their durability. The metal and plastic styling looks like something my father would have used in the 80s, and I have a hard time believing that the PXC 250s could withstand the same beating as my Sony headphones.

A number of my other other accessories have already made appearances in the pages of ATPM, including two of the cases I’ve tried, the Marware SportSuit Convertible and the Contour Showcase. Around the end of last year, I added an iPod Sock to my collection and was, until recently, switching my iPod between the Showcase and the Sock, depending on where I was heading. Sadly, as of this writing, my green Sock has gone missing.

Somewhat stretching the definition of an iPod case, I’ve also used a BOOQ BP3 backpack when I’ve been on the road and needed to carry supplies. Sadly, the BP3’s headphone passthrough isn’t large enough to accommodate the plastic connector on the iPod Remote.

Finally, there’s my big iPod case—my Honda Accord (yes, I’m officially pushing it here). For a while, I experimented with a Griffin iTrip, but I grew tired of trying to find a reliable station in the Boston area, not to mention re-tuning several times over the course of longer trips. Since my car didn’t have a cassette player, I decided to install a Dension ice>Link so I could control my iPod through my stereo’s CD Changer controls.


I was a bit apprehensive about the prospect of pulling apart the front of my car, but I found some decent instructions for dealing with Accords. After a bit of prying, some drilling, and the application of Velcro, my iPod was almost completely integrated with my car stereo and safely stashed in my center console. Even better, there were no unintentional spare parts.

What’s Next?

I admit, I’ve been casting an envious eye towards both the new color iPods and the iPod shuffle. I don’t feel an overwhelming need to carry all my photos in my pocket, but I like the idea backing up photos from my digital camera without needing a computer. Also, I wouldn’t mind having an iPod model that’s seeing active development from Apple.

When I think about the Shuffle, however, I see it as something that would augment my current iPod instead of replacing it. Essentially, the Shuffle could become my exercise iPod and my current one would keep the remainder of the music-playing duties.

Of course, I’m really holding out hope for a carrier-subsidized, non-crippled iTunes phone—I’d at least like to see what Motorola and Apple have developed since they first announced their partnership over a year ago. I don’t know about the carrier-subsidized and non-crippled parts, but according to iLounge, Motorola’s CEO Ed Zander read a statement from Apple that the iTunes phone “will be unveiled at a separate music event within the next 66 days, and shipped this quarter” while he was speaking at the MOTONOW media event.

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Reader Comments (1)

Chip Cuccio · August 2, 2005 - 17:52 EST #1
"For the record, I like my crow grilled, with a hint of mesquite."

Brilliant - made my day. Great article. Thanks.

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