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day permlink Tuesday, 13 January 2004

permlink Apple's latest stuff - iPod mini, GarageBand

I got around to watching Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote speech this weekend. A couple of thoughts:

iPod mini: Like many, I'm underwhelmed by the $249 iPod mini - if it were priced at $199, Jobs wouldn't have to claim that the difference between high-end Flash players and the mini is the 'best $50 you can spend' or whatever it was he said.

If it were $199, the contrast between the 4GB mini and the 15GB iPod ($299) wouldn't be so stark and embarassing (I'd say that's a more valuable $50 jump, myself). Clearly Apple doesn't want you to think of the mini and the iPod as being two steps on the same ladder; much of what you're paying for in the mini is the further miniaturization down to the size of a business card a half-inch thick. But frankly, the iPod is already plenty small for my taste, and paying 5/6 of the iPod's price for a device with less than a third of the capacity and fewer lines on the display strikes me as a pretty big waste of money.

If it were $199, the choice would be more palatable. (And wasn't there supposed to be a 2GB version as well? Even a 2GB one for $199 would be a good competitor versus the high-end flash players Jobs is targeting.) I'd love to see a mini and hold it and drool over it, of course; it just won't tempt me to buy it.

(Rumor sites are saying that Apple will drop the price in 3 months or so, as soon as the hard drive supplier introduces a higher-capacity drive. I hope they do.)

GarageBand, on the other hand, impresses the heck out of me, and may well be the best $49 I spend this year. The software instruments and the audio loops are nice, but what excites me the most is the easy recording and mixing of live audio. I know other apps like CakeWalk for Windows do it, but I never bothered to get into them because of their higher cost and my preference for doing it on the Mac. (I had Peak LE for a while, but it couldn't do the multitrack mixing that I really wanted.)

I'm looking forward with great excitement to the possibilities for doing throwaway audio bits, as well as more serious multitrack recording. Also, it'll finally be trivial (I think) to take some audio bits that I only have on cassette and preserve them electronically.

GarageBand may -- seriously -- be the best application Apple has ever produced for me. And that's saying something.

Can't wait to get my hands on it. permlink  

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