Sunday, 18 January 2009

i-Ponder and The Halt Bar

Having held out against it for so long, being stormbound and with a distinct lack of anything else constructive to do (that's not true, really, I'm just being a lazy sod...) I've been fiddling about with an i-Pod shuffle.

I didn't buy it, you understand, not really. It came free with three months' subscription to the wonderful Sofa Cinema service. Regardless, anyone who's had to listen to me bang on about the evils of MP3s will know that me even taking the little gizmo out of the box is on a musical par with old Uncle Bob's Judas moment.

It's okay. The i-Pod I mean, not the Dylan thing. Some people will never get over that one...The wee MP3 machine though, whilst aesthetically pleasing in its minimalist styling and sleek brushed steel casing is hardly earth shattering. Now, I appreciate that as the leader of the pack, Apple were pushing the boundaries with this whole digital music thing and that with a plethora of other devices available at prices ranging from a couple of quid to a couple of hundred, the simplicity of the Shuffle is, in some senses, going to render it a tad nondescript.

Given that any digital music player is basically doing the same job (if you give or take the odd lcd screen/data storage facility/web-broswing capability) I suppose my expectations of the Apple machine hinged around the i-Tunes facility. No doubt many millions of words and blog posts have addressed this topic but I'll throw in my tuppence worth anyway.

I'm disappointed.

Although it's hard to be objective since I'm already familiar (though I wouldn't go so far as to say comforatble) with Windows Media Player, I expected i-Tunes to be, I don't know, slicker. It didn't feel particularly intuitive and I'm annoyed by the length of time it takes to "sync" the contents of the library to the player. I know that's just my own impatience, but still.

On the plus side, though, one of the few CDs I did have kicking about today was The Kevin McDermott Orchestra's seminal Mother Nature's Kitchen. I decided to 'import' it into i-Tunes (that's one of the good things, never liked the idea of 'ripping' music). Having just plugged the wee beastie into the speakers I have to concede that, bizarrely, the sound is (was?) so clear that for the first time in the 19years since owning the album I was able to make out the wee bit of chat at the start of the title track..."as per the Halt Jimbo...let him start and we'll just jam away..."

This has had the twin effects of both delighting me and making me incredibly jealous: as a one-time Saturday afternoon live-music regular in the aforementioned hostelry I'm somewhat gutted to have missed the boys in action!

Now, I'm not claiming that the i-Pod has any mystical sound improving qualities but it certainly did a great job on the nostalgia inducing front, which is never a bad thing. Pint of Beamish Red and a packet of bacon fries you say? Don't mind if I do...

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