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The Death of the Nightlight

It's been creeping up steadily over years, but I am here to officially announce the death of the nightlight.

With the introduction of so many new electronics into our daily lives (cell phones, battery chargers, wireless network devices, laptops, remote controls, cameras, etc.) one can easily navigate through their home or apartment simply by the glow or flicker of their electronic lifestyle.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 30, 2005 | Comments (0)

iTunes and your MuVo

mumenu.jpgSo you've decided to get yourself a Creative MuVo and use it with your Mac. Welcome.

If you set yourself up a few months ago (Muvo out of the box and iTunes 4.7.0) then you're set. If you want to continue on with the march of progress, two major things will change for you:

(1) MuVo has released a firmware update. This makes a number of minor tweaks/enhancements and updates the format to FAT16. In order to update your firmware you'll need to do it on a Windows machine. I've tested this with Virutal PC (WinXP) and it works fine.

(2) This firmware update will break iTunes (don't panic - it will still be usable) and keep the MuVo from showing up as connected devices. If you're not afraid of using a GUI to edit application source code the fix is quick and painless. You can find it at minimal.cx
(maybe you can sweet-talk one of your Mac-guru friends into doing this for you).

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 29, 2005 | Comments (1)

Welcome to the Fence: iPod Shuffle vs. Creative MuVo

It's only a matter of time before you'll all have an mp3 player. Considering I like to be in the early adopter/visionary camp it's quite surprising that it's taken until now to actually buy one of these things. I guess I'd been kind of silently waiting for the 120GB iPod for $300 -- that way I could truly bring *all* of my music with me and DJ to my heart's content.

Since that is not going to happen any time soon us idealists need to decide what our other niche is; are we willing to spend a lot of money to carry some or most of our music, or get a Flash player and use the device for the gym, the commute, etc.

mupod.jpgEC.SON.MDRJ20WHITE.CN.JPGGym/commute it is.

So if you want something with decent storage, function, and style there are really only two choices:
- Apple's iPod shuffle
- Creative MuVo

After some quality firsthand experience here is my quick rundown of the battle. First of all, neither is really ready to go out of the box so I'm allowing 1 $30 add-on for each so it's a fair fight; the iPod doesn't come with an armband so you'll need to get that on the Apple end -- the MuVo's earbuds honestly suck (most online reviews mention how the standard earbuds hurt, I just found them to fall out constantly), so we're going to choose a nice sexy set of Sony MDR-J20 headphones.

+ The minimalist interface is the correct style for a single-use device like this one. Apple *nailed* the design.
+ Rechargable battery built in
+ Tight iTunes integration
- Sound quality downright tinny compared to iPod mini or fullsize
- Niche was defined too narrowly; sorry, runners might not be looking at the screen but everyone else does -- just enough to show title and battery meter - that's all we ask
= Not too useful: Random songlist downloaded to player -- with the small memory size you could really get a dud batch if you have a hard time deleting songs on your computer.

+ AAA batteries are easier to swap (you can use rechargables if you feel so inspired)
+ LCD screen, yay
+ Louder/better sound output than iPod shuffle
+ Drag-and-drop files for Mac is good; integration with iTunes 4.7.0 better (this feature disappeared in 4.7.1 oddly enough...)
- Still more buttons than needed
- Obsessive/busy designers put text, logos, and explanations all over the device; scroller button different color than the rest; overall "sloppy" execution on the closest-to-apple minimalist flash device out there
= Not too useful: FM Radio (who's ever gotten good FM reception?), tons of unnecessary preferences settings

So it looks like a dead heat. In the end I picked the MuVo because this is, after all, a music player and therefore sound quality is king. The better amplification and LCD screen give the Creative the edge (for now).

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on March 28, 2005 | Comments (0)