I as a hard coded PC user have a difficult time with Apple Products. Yes I know that it is probably a bit petty of me. I will freely acknowledge it. It often stems from Mac users always gloating every time the latest computer virus is announced. It could have something to do with them saying that PC stands for Piece of Crap or some such over lovely acronym. Yes I normally retort that they should have named them iCrash instead of iMacs. Yes I know that PCs are wide open to attacks most times it is a self imposed thing that we in the computer industry have brought about by ourselves. I realize that Macs often do not have to worry about them; my main feeling is why would-be a hacker / virus writer want to cripple such a very small portion of computer users?
I freely admit that there are some things that the Macintosh OS does better than the Windows based one. Heck I am a Libra, I always try to see both sides of the argument. But all that is neither here nor there at least for this particular article.
I am here to review the latest thing sweeping the nation, personal MP3 players in particular the iShuffle. Normally, I do not keep abreast of Macintosh items or releases. The two interns that we have in my department this semester are mac folks, which is understandable given their major in printing, one of whom planned to purchase an iShuffle for valentines day for his girlfriend. Once he got word that the local Macintosh store actually had some of the hot items in stock he decided to purchase some extras. For a mere ninety dollars I too could have a have half gig flash drive slash MP3 player. He returned to the office with several in hand, for a mere fifty dollars more I could have a full one gig at my disposal.
OK, so yes it was an impulse purchase. Believe it or not, sometimes I too like to be a part of the *in crowd* I don't feel that a man is always an island. The box was in typical apple lime green. I feel that they have to have this catchy packaging to be able to notify all of the staunch supporters to where the Apple products are located inside the stores. The iShuffle is white and basically the size of a Bic cigarette lighter. It comes with a set of white earphones and a cd that contains iTunes for your machine.
Yes if you have a PC you can use iTunes, the equal to Windows Media player. The iShuffle is the little brother to the iPod, which basically revolutionized personal music mediums with its release back in 2002. It has spawned the iPod Photo and the iPod Mini all offering their own unique attributes. All offer the ability to quickly transfer information, photos, or music to what amounts to basically a portable hard drive.
The iShuffle expands upon the technology that has been surging to the forefront lately. Flash drives. Flash drives allow you to plug-in via an USB port on your computer. This allows you, depending on the size of the flash drive of course, to transfer information quickly between you and your friends. The neat thing about the iShuffle is that it allows you to dictate how much information you have loaded in what manner. You can dedicate how much of the drive is to be used for music files, the actual music file to transfer from machine to machine, or data files like a word document that you want someone else to look at.
iTunes will go out and search your hard drive(s) to find your music files, and will even convert them over from some of the more popular formats. The ones that it can't handle can be addressed with a quick Google search for converters. It can then organize your tunes for you, instead of you manually trying to update the information which is one of my least favorite things to do when trying to get my groove going.
Apple does a really good job of updating the iTunes software, and once you register the item they keep you in the loop as far as updates go. They don't bombard your inbox with useless nonsense that is always a bonus in this day and age of spam. You can post your play lists on their website, and check out the play lists of other *nobodies* as well as such notables as Dale Earnhardt Jr, and other *some bodies*. Those of you in an office environment can share you tunes across the network with minimum network bandwidth impact. (I do know that my office is a bit more lax when it comes to this than some Fortune 500 businesses)
But I digress; let me get back to the iShuffle proper. The allure for me was the ability to put my various bits and pieces of songs in a portable format that allowed for the best listening pleasure possible. One of the features that I love is that I no longer have to worry about transporting back up batteries with me. When you plug the iShuffle into your computer, it recharges its battery automatically. I have yet to run it out of juice. One thing that I learned on my long motorcycle rides in the mid-nineties was the need to overcome wind noise even in a wrap around helmet. Wind fatigue and wind noise is always an enemy to battle when on long trips whether you are in a car or truck or motorcycle. I tried the walkmans from that era, and they did an ok job, but it always left me wanting as far as performance went.
The iShuffle on the other hand has outperformed everything that I have thrown at it. I have created various play lists depending on my mood. I have my Kid Rock, and Beastie Boys circa Licensed to Ill rubbing elbows with Metallica, Megadeth, Sabbath, and Aerosmith along with notable Hair Bands from the eighties, those rubbing elbows with Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Junior Brown and a short list of other country and western singers. It is able to overcome the road noise of my ticked off weed eater of an underpowered motorcycle that I am currently riding, as well as being able to block out folks at the office that I really don't care to deal with.
I know that you will be able to get an iShuffle on eBay and the prices will soon drop, if you find the iPod or even the iPod Mini too bulky for your needs, check out the iShuffle. I am confident that you will be quite happy with the results.
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