Monday, March 06, 2006

First Impression: iPod Hi-Fi

Took a look at the iPod Hi-Fi at a local Apple Store this weekend. This is not a comprehensive review, for those, I have read the following: iLoung e Review PC Magazine Review Playlist Review I generally avoid knee-jerk reactions to product announcements now when there is a very good chance I can get my hands on it myself, like with the Apple products. First Impression Man does this sound good. I didn't tweak anything, just walked up to a free iPod Hi-Fi in the Apple Store, put some Alica Keys on, and stepped back. I am no audiophile. I do occasionally compare Apple Lossless to AAC 128 kbps, but I really can't hear a difference. I have some stuff in Lossless (e.g. Batman Begins soundtrack just because I ripped it that way and I don't need the space back yet). The iPod Hi-Fi sounds better to my ears than my Kenwood 5.1 Dolby Digital Home Theatre in a box that I got a number of years ago, at least for music. I have been considering a speaker system just for iPods for a while now, specifically for the kitchen, bedroom, or outdoors. So I am tempted by this. Arguements FOR include portability (D batteries!), can be connected to an Airport Express for wireless streaming, and the sound. Arguements AGAINST include price ($350!), need an iPod video or nano for full features, and I need another Airport Express for wireless streaming. Unless I get this gifted to me, I won't be buying one right now for myself. I like the design, but I think if either $350 included wireless or this was $50 cheaper, it would have been an easy sell, but maybe I am not the target market for this. Bigger Picture One of the complaints about the iPod Hi-Fi you hear is that this doesn't include radio or a CD player. Apple's tagline for this is "Home Stereo. Reinvented" and some people just don't get it. Apple is not trying to replace Sony's existing product lines. Apple's new devices are designed and intended to replace the various old analog based devices and provide the best merger of software and computer-based (i.e. hard drive and CPU based) technologies. Apple doesn't include a CD Player because the iPod replaces the CD player, why would you EVER AGAIN want a CD Player in a Home Stereo? One of the many reasons iPods have become wildly popular was because people were sick of FM Radio, why would you ever include FM Radio in a home stero again? Now whether or not you agree with any, all, or none of these decisions will determine if you buy Apple products or not. I happen to agree with most, certainly the CD Player and FM Radio exclusions. I have FM Radio on my Kenwood HIB, I have never used it.