Monday, July 04, 2005

Sinatra, Samurai, and the IPod Shuffle

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Atlantic City for a weekend getaway. I'm the type of guy who likes some music when he's driving, and since I didn't want to fiddle with the radio (it takes all day to drive from Ottawa to Atlantic City), I thought I'd get an iPod.

Why an iPod? As an animator I sometimes work with QuickTime files, and when I downloaded the last upgrade to QuickTime, iTunes came with it. And somehow I found iTunes easier than RealPlayer or Media Player when it came to uploading CDs. The drawback is that not too many MP3 players recognize the iTunes format. Hence, my trip to Future Shop to get an iPod.

Of course, not being made of money, what I wound up with was the iPod Shuffle.

I have to admit, I like this thing. As small as a stick of gum and just as light. The on/off switch takes a little getting used to, but loading it up in iTunes turns out to be a breeze thanks to the program's AutoFill feature. It loaded up about 5 CDs worth of music -- and it was only a third full.

And no, I'm not especially bothered by the lack of a screen. The thing about the Shuffle is, it's meant to be used while you're doing something -- jogging, exercising, biking, whatever -- when you want something going on in the background. You don't need to worry about which particular track is playing, so long as it's a good track that doesn't throw you out of your groove.

The tracks I loaded up? Film music from Akira Kurosawa's films, an album by Frank Sinatra, an album by Dean Martin, a 2 CD set of film music from the James Bond series. Put all that in with the "shuffle" option, and I wound up with some very interesting audial company on my way to the Sands Hotel. (Imaging two peasants arguing with Deano while an Aston-Martin attempts to shoot Frankie out of the ejector seat. That's sort of the mood I got put in -- perfect for driving.)

Audio quality was pretty good. Rather than use the included earbuds, I opted for a set of Sony headphones that hook onto the ears for security. (Yes, I know you're not supposed to drive like that, but one thing I figured out is if you keep the sound low enough, you're still able to hear the ambient road noises that warn you about potential hazards.)

And the fact that there are no moving parts in the Shuffle meant that I never worried once about skipping, which is what happened the last time I had a CD player in my car. This was especially fortunate for when I had to drive through Philadelphia. (Note to self: never drive through Philadelphia if you can possibly help it.)

If you don't own an iPod, this is a good entry level model.

And hey -- given the amount of pessimism I've seen around the Blogging Tories this past weekend, it never hurts to writing about something positive.