Gadget Fever

Oh, how we love it when the pound is so strong against the dollar! Suddenly all those cool electronic gadgets seem terribly affordable. It’s a shame that many US retailers won’t ship electronics to the UK any more (hi, Amazon!), but that’s where usefully placed family on the other side of the pond comes in.

Alphasmart DanaIn a week and a bit, our personal courier (hi, Susan!) will be bringing us some cool new toys. Abi has bought herself a new Garmin eTrex GPS receiver, and I’m going to be getting the Alphasmart Dana I have long been lusting after. The wireless one. Oh yes. It will be mine.

I have also been musing over the vexed iPod question. I would love an iPod. They’re gorgeous, and they are designed to go with iTunes, which is what I use to play music on my desktop. On the other hand, they don’t have an FM radio. And based on my past experience, portable music devices that don’t have a radio built in find themselves languishing under a pile of papers at the back of my desk. All aesthetic considerations aside (that high pitched sound you hear is my aesthetic sense whining in shame), FM radio is a deal breaker for me.

Out of the alternatives, the iRiver iHP 120 (or 140) looks rather spiffy. It acts as a simple external USB hard drive, it can record direct to MP3 from optical line in, and it has a Lithium-Polymer battery (the iPod uses Lithium-Ion) that by most accounts provides well over ten hours of playback. And it has radio. And it’s cheaper than an iPod. The downside is that it doesn’t have the groovy iTunes integration, so I’d have to do lots of manual file and playlist shuffling.

On the other hand, I’ve just managed to secure a car parking space near where I’ll be working for the next two months, so I’ll be driving my commute instead of taking the bus. That means I won’t need a portable music player for a while, so I think I’ll hold off for the moment. (Besides, economic forecasts suggest that the pound is going to stay strong against the dollar for a while yet.)

But still…new toys! Woo!

1 comment

  1. Martin –

    I’ve got a 20G iPod (the previous generation) and I can’t speak highly enough about it. All of the details are right – the UI, the integration and so on. I know one of the engineers on the iPod team (his car’s vanity plate is AYEPOD) – and he is exactly the kind of guy you want on this kind of Gadget.

    I’ve got over 4500 songs on it and with that many songs I don’t miss radio at all. When I am in the car, I just start the iPod on random play – if a song I don’t want to hear comes up, I just press forward to skip ahead. I also use the pod at the gym and at my desk – it’s increadible to have your entire music catalog with you at all times.

    Whatever player you get, make sure that all of the details work for you – eval how you will use it. If it works out correctly, this will be a device you have with you several hours every day – it’s got to be right. In my case, at the time, I could have spent 1/2 the money for a different device, but it would not have worked as well – money well spent.

    Mick

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