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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

iPods: The Choice is Yours

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John Kane III
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In this new millennium of technology, music has improved as a medium. For the past 20 years, portable music had been popularized by clunky CD players with disks and laser beams and anti-skip protection. Ah, but the times they are a’ changin’. The age of the MP3 has arrived. For those who are totally clueless, MP3 players are usually handheld devices that can hold ridiculous amounts of music, without any kind of external disk, in the form of computer data. MP3 players are dominating the market in terms of ‘portable music players.’ But, as many may have noticed, Apple Computer’s iPod has taken the world by storm.

If you have happened to travel through the Downtown Crossing train station in Boston during the past few months, you may have noticed an iPod poster or two…or three…or every advertisement in the station. The ads with the brightly colored backgrounds have featured human silhouettes that look cool in their frozen dance positions, white wires dangling from their ears, gripping their iconic pearl colored iPods. It’s hard not to notice Apple’s aggressive ad campaign. And the public has answered Apple’s call. BBC News reported that Apple has sold more than 10 million iPods and it’s “first fiscal quarter [earnings] were the highest quarterly figures in its history and ahead of Wall Streets expectations.” These results just demonstrate the success of the ad campaign. However, this also shows how people shouldn’t just follow their telescreens and Big Brother posters. The iPod isn’t the only product out there. You have options.

Come on, let’s take a trip to Amazon.com. You’d see there are many different brands of player that are comparable to the iPod, in performance and price. SanDisk offers a player that stores over 4 hours/60 songs of MP3-encoded sound, or 8 hours/120 songs of WMA music (WMA is just another data format for music). It also has a seemingly archaic FM radio and can run off a single AAA battery. Yes, it is true that some of the iPod models can hold 10,000 songs, and if you want to dish out $300 or more, you’re more than welcome. After much research I found a very impressive MP3 player from the company Creative that I can call my own. It can store 512 MB (which is half a gigabyte) it has an FM radio, the ability to record lectures, record the radio, use as an external disk drive, and direct music recording with audio/out lines. You don’t need any software to use it. Just hook the USB cable from the player to the computer and it pops up like another disk drive. Oh yeah, I only paid $114. However, the best part of my non-iPod MP3 player is that it came with white wires so everyone thinks I own an iPod.

It’s not to say the iPod is a spawn of Satan and a giant ‘A’ should be branded upon its pearly outer casing. No, no, not at all. To me, it seems the iPod is about quantity and style. I notice the advertisements really push that holding 10,000 songs is most important and when this idea is paired with happy dancing silhouettes, what else are we to think than “if we can have 10,000 songs in our pocket, we’ll be happy, we’ll belong.” To me, 10,000 portable songs are not practical. If you’re a music junkie and can’t get enough-purchase your $300 iPod. I am not a music junkie but I do enjoy my obscure Finnish operatic metal during my morning train commute. But don’t have enough songs to fill 20, 30, or 40 GB or the time to listen to 10,000 songs. I just want to listen to a handful of songs without spending hundreds of dollars. Take heed, music enthusiasts and open your eyes to the world beyond the iPod. You have a choice.