September 15, 2005

Data Crystal

by psu

In every long running Science Fiction franchise, there is the notion of a tiny device that carries within it the capacity to store a ludicrously large amount of data by present day standards. Normally, you'll see some character pull one of these out of his pocket, holding it up to shine in the light on the set, and then someone will pop it into a reader and the complete schematics for an entire planet will appear on the holographic screen. In Star Trek, these storage devices looked like little plastic cards. In Babylon 5, they were crystal shaped. The notion of the data crystal always intrigued me because I grew up storing data on large floppy disks or even larger disk pack type devices.

I think with the arrival of the new iPod nano, the age of the data crystal is here in force.

At the beginning of this year, when i got my iPod Shuffle, I thought it was ludicrously small for a device that could store 1GB of data. I decided to see if a device that small could fit the largest single musical work that the Western World has ever seen: The Wagner Ring. It took a while to run the experiment, but this week I finally determined that the whole thing will fit in the shuffle with more than 200MB left over if you encode it at 128Kbps.

Armed with this evidence, I was ready to declare to the world that the age of the data crystal had arrived.

Then, the iPod nano arrived. Holding one of these in your hand, you realize that even though it is barely larger than the Shuffle (it's wider, but thinner)

1. It holds four times as much data. In fact, I'd guess that the nano can store enough to hold the working set of most application developers who work on products of average size.

2. Oh my god, it shines as if lit by a thousand suns. I always figured the color screens were useless, but they sure are pretty.

The nano, then, is a shiny device barely the size of a credit card that I could use to carry my whole job around with me. It is the very definition of the data crystal. Sitting on your desk, it looks like a piece of sculpture, almost perfectly smooth with a black metallic sheen. Hook it up to your computer, and you have four times the storage that my graduate school provided for its entire computer science program back in 1990.

Of course, the iPod is not a data storage device. It is a music player. As such, the nano works just like a full sized iPod. It looks, feels and sounds exactly the same. Get the black one.

Posted by psu at September 15, 2005 08:05 PM | Bookmark This

How about the mobiBLU DAH-1500 cube? Data, music, and jewelry.

The thing that pisses me off about all the iPods is the enclosed battery. My cell phone has a user friendly easy to replace battery. Why not the iPod? Or do I have to pay $59 every 1.5 to 2 years to Apple?

Oh, thinking of cracking open that nano. Here is a video pod cast of a former TechTv guy doing just that.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at September 19, 2005 02:03 AM

Your cellphone lacks elegance.

Thinking of the iPod as "just" a consumer electronics device is the exact same mistake made by those companies that have spent millions of dollars building MP3 and WMA players that have utterly failed to capture 80% of the market.

Mind you, there's nothing "wrong" with being in the 20% of the market that doesn't care about the elegance of your MP3 player. But I think that the sales figures decisively validate many of the design decisions behind the iPod.

Posted by peterb at September 19, 2005 09:56 AM

Hey Amos, do a little research before whining.

You don't have to "pay $59 every 1.5 to 2 years to Apple". There are far cheaper replacement batteries available, the replacement procedure is simple, and the "they all die in 18 months" thing is an urban legend.

Google is your friend; go look it up.

Posted by Nat at September 19, 2005 09:58 AM

I have a variety of iPods dating back to the original 5GB.

None has needed a new battery.

The life of the battery depends a lot on usage patterns and luck.

Posted by psu at September 19, 2005 10:15 AM

The battery in my 2nd-generation 10GB iPod finally started to go a couple months ago, so I ordered a high capacity battery that claimed it'd give me a 22-hour battery life. It cost maybe $30-$40, and installing it took five minutes.

My wife's iPod is just as old, though, and her battery is fine.

Posted by Nat at September 19, 2005 11:29 AM

Trust me, my cell phone has zero bling, nada fung shui, definately lacks elegance.

Nat old boy, if you think that was whining then you obviously have not read any of my other posts.

Ya, I googled, but you did not even read the nine words you quoted. "pay $59 every 1.5 to 2 years to Apple" I did not say there wasn't a third party option.

Have you looked at the video of cracking open a nano? A regular iPod, or even a mini, I would have no problem trying to replace the battery. The nano looks like a pain to replace.

How much use are people estimating? The quotes I saw is 8 hours a day every day for 1.5 to 2 years ends up being around 500 full charge cycles.

I wonder how long are they going to hold 80% of the market. How big is the market? How much of that is people buying multiple iPods? I only watched part of the webcast.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at September 19, 2005 07:12 PM

Yeah, by "have to" you clearly meant "you could or there's another option I'm just not going to mention".

How foolish of me not to notice.

Posted by Nat at September 19, 2005 09:52 PM

Foolish. Yes. Got that right.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at September 20, 2005 12:35 PM

Hi. You are all guests in our house. Please lay off the personal attacks on our other guests posthaste. Except for the cousin-lovers and the vegan cat freaks; feel free to insult them all you want.



Posted by peterb at September 20, 2005 01:24 PM

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