Saturday, September 30, 2006

As I recently mentioned, my iPod was having issues, and had to be sent in under warranty. I'm pleased to say I got it back on Friday, and am even more pleased to report that Apple had some very good news for me: There was nothing wrong with it. According to the letter (which isn't in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing), either my iPod was found to be operating well within acceptable parameters, or otherwise did not require replacement hardware (the letter was deliberately vague, I presume, to avoid calling me an idiot or a liar). So apparently freezing up and not turning on are now features. I am trying to be optimistic, that perhaps in diagnosing the problem they took the iPod apart, and perhaps tightened up some loose part that was the cause of the problem. But I've noticed the iPod is a bit sluggish in opening menus or selecting songs, which makes me worry that nothing has changed. When I took the iPod out of the box, it wouldn't turn on, which I found quite amusing, considering the problems were supposedly in my head. I think they didn't complete the restore process, which requires the attachment of an external power source, because once I plugged it in to a charger it turned on (and I was able to verify that the battery was charged).

I must say the experience left me less than satisfied, and would make me less likely to consider an Apple computer in the future. Though to be fair, the experience was far more pleasant than my contact with Dell customer service, though ultimately neither was useful (but at least Dell acknowledged that my computer was non-functional). Of the two iPods I've owned, I should note my first iPod is still working fine, despite suffering several catastrophic-appearing drops (hard falls onto my concrete driveway, for instance). And even the troubles with my current iPod mostly have been only moderate, crashes repaired by simply resetting the iPod (though that was an inadequate solution for reparing the most recent crash). So while I am less confident in the long-term reliability of the iPod (in my opinion, the life cycle of a $350 piece of electronics should be at a bare minimum two years), I still see no better choice for large-capacity MP3 players.

I did look at some of the competition in the 60 gig+ MP3 player market, but really never seriously considered buying anything other than another iPod as a replacement. Especially when I realized there was an easy solution to the problem of my disillusionment with Apple technical support. I will purchase my next iPod at Costco, home of the 100% satisfaction guarantee, which will take almost anything back anytime. So if my next iPod acts up, I'll ignore Apple's warranty and simply return it for a full refund and buy the most recent iteration of the iPod, and simply continue to get free upgrades every time my iPod acts screwy, or I just fell like an upgrade. Love that Costco.

The situation did encourage me to take a look-see at the forthcoming Microsoft Zune. And I had to laugh when I learned that the Zune will not support "Plays for Sure." So for all the MP3 manufacturers and music stores who supported Microsoft's standards, Microsoft is rewarding you by engaging in direct competition with you, and undercutting the standard you adopted. I'm not a Microsoft fan, but I still expected better of them. If you don't buy an iPod, the most likely reason is the proprietary nature of their DRM. So why would you buy another manufacture's inferior product with an equally (or more) restrictive DRM (though unlike Apple, it does support a subscription service--though only their own)?

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