In June of this year we took a look at the D-Link Roq-It in our article MP3 Hard Drive To Portability , and we started that article with a discussion of the advancements that have been made in hard drive-based MP3 player technology. One of the things that we explored was Apple's lack of support for Windows for its iPod players. Soon after this article was published, Apple announced that it was not only going to upgrade the iPod by offering new models with bigger hard drives, but that it was also going to release the new iPod for Windows. (This is not to imply that our article had any effect on Apple's decision.)
Previous to this announcement from Apple, it was possible to use an iPod with a Windows-based PC by using various utilities from the Internet or XPlay from Mediafour, which allowed use of the MAC compatible iPod with Windows. (Many readers wrote to let us know that they were already using their iPod with Windows.) Still, many wanted a more complete solution, and with the company's announcement of the availability of iPod for Windows, Apple has made these users very happy.
Apple's marketing strategy and practices have a history of being somewhat unpredictable and shaky. In the past, Apple has dropped the ball, or has been out of sync with the market when good opportunities to advance its products have come along. Since we normally cover the PC-oriented market, we sometimes tend not to devote much attention to what Apple is doing. With Steve Jobs at the helm, marketing strategy and product releases appear to have improved, and Apple seems headed in the right direction. However, this still isn't something that will have all PC users jumping for joy.
Last year when others asked me what one product I would consider to be the product of the year, I was quick to answer, "The Apple iPod." Although I had not purchased an iPod until three weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to demo the unit at various trade shows and play with it at retail stores, I became convinced that with the iPod's design, Apple was really onto something.
In evaluating products like this, I try to look at the product on many different levels. What kind of experience does the unit provide? What kind of performance does the unit offer? What value does the unit offer? What kind of user interaction is required to use the product? Is the product optimally designed for its possible use? Does the unit have quality construction? Does the performance live up to expectations?
When looking at a product of this type, it is important to examine it with a critical eye, since it generally will involve a sizeable investment, and that its practical use needs to justify the price and meet the user's expectations. Added to this is the factor that potential customers might tend to shy away from Apple products because of Apple's past.
This review of the Apple iPod was done without any assistance from Apple. I purchased an Apple iPod at a local CompUSA retail store for my own use. After spending some time with it, I thought I could provide a more objective review of the positives and negatives of the iPod for Windows. (Yes, there were a few things that I didn't like about the iPod, but these are fairly minor glitches!)
Whether you are an Apple products enthusiast or think that the iPod is nothing more than marketing hype, I encourage you to read this review and take an objective look at the technology and usability behind the iPod. You might be surprised by what you will find. I think we were even surprised by our final verdict.
I also want to thank Harald van Arkel from www.chipmunk.nl , who worked with me to provide the pictures of the internal portions of the iPod, since I didn't want to void the warranty on my newly purchased iPod by disassembling it. Harald was brave enough to have already disassembled his iPod, and provided us with the excellent disassembled iPod photos that you'll see in this article. Many thanks to Harald for his assistance with these pictures.