Archive for December 22nd, 2005

Next iPod will support A2DP/AVRCP

The next major iPod revision will support Bluetooth 2.0+EDR with the A2DP (stereo sound) and AVRCP (remote control) profiles in it. I don’t know if Apple will also release Apple-branded Bluetooth stereo wireless headphones too, but the wireless aspect of it all IS the next thing to try and differentiate the product from the oh-so-close Creative solutions. It is a good finish on an overall well-thought producdt.

And there’s the other thing too: many people avoid listen to music just in case they don’t miss that phone call they await for. With a bluetooth stereo headset you can be connected to the iPod and it would automatically stop playing music when you have a call, switch to its headset/handsfree profile, take the call, talk through the integrated mic and then end the call, and have the music resume automatically. And this thing is on the best interest of Apple because it means that customers who would avoid use their iPod some times now they would not have a reason not to.

And don’t forget that most people don’t use the cheap earphones that usually come with mp3 players. They buy better quality ones. Apple is selling some third party headphones through their store but they have nothing of their own to sell. And because it’s very difficult to knock off companies like Bose or Sony who have many years of experience in making good headphones, they have to go with something that these companies don’t offer: BT wireless headphones. And so Apple could take full advantage of their iPod brand, by “innovating” (there aren’t many BT stereo headsets out there today, most people don’t even know they exist).

The current BT 1.2 headsets suffer from low quality because Bluetooth is using its own codec for transmission, called SBC, and that codec sucks. It doesn’t “fit” on the 1 Mbps transfer rate of Bluetooth 1.x. So if Apple would go for something like this, they would use Bluetooth 2.0+EDR both ways.

From my point of view of the arm chair CEO, such a move makes perfect business and brand sense.

All you need to learn about Bluetooth stereo headsets is here: http://www.robertwebbe.nl/A2DP.html

Someone needs to get a clue and it ain’t me

I have a few mp3 players but my main mp3 player is the iPod Mini (1st Generation). Since I bought it less than a year ago, I used it exclusively with my Powerbook. I never had a problem with it.

I had a few more songs on my PC though that I wanted to transfer on to the iPod before we leave for holidays. And so I installed the iPod software on Windows, iTunes and all full monty, Windows recognized my iPod just fine, and then it asked me to FORMAT it. It said that Windows can not read this iPod, even if the iPod software update could “see” which firmware version was installed on the iPod (I already had the latest).

I have never used my iPod with anything than my Mac (Panther and Tiger). Why the hell the Windows iPod drivers don’t recognize it and mount it? Windows iTunes doesn’t wanna mount the iPod either (even if it *knows* is connected because it loads the iPod Software Update when I connect it to the PC). It keeps asking me to re-format my iPod! When I connect the iPod back to the Powerbook it works just fine!

Apparently Apple offers the iPods by default with the HFS+ filesystem and the user must format it when buying it to FAT32 in order to use it with Windows. Thing is, I use both a Windows and a Mac. If I reformat my iPod to FAT32 Mac OSX won’t recognize it anymore. Apple needs to get a clue and EITHER support the FAT32 filesystem on OSX, or port HFS+ to Windows as an fs addon (this is preferred because it will allow for files bigger than 4GB to work). Either way, having TWO filesystems supported on a single device creating support and user headaches is fucking ridiculous.

So much for “it just works”.

Sandisk’s Sansa m240 MP3 Player 1GB

Sandisk sent me their brand new mp3/wma player, the Sansa m240 1 GB, for a review. It’s the second generation of their Sansa player that I reviewed a few months ago on OSNews. They removed the SD slot, they added voice recording, amazing quality new earphones (much better than iPod’s) and apparently they have fixed ALL my nitpicks I had back then, except three:

1. Still no OGG support (not that I need it really, I only have 1 ogg song :P).

2. LCD still too dark when backlight is off (unreadable in my office).

3. No FM recording (16bit wav)

The only place where they screwed up the new design is that now you can’t operate easily the device with one hand. They placed the “menu” and “Vol-/+” buttons too far from the main navigation buttons. People with smaller hands won’t be able to reach easily for them without using their second hand to stabilize the player while pressing them. A proof that they didn’t test their player with women and they *assume* that people will use these buttons holding the player vertically, while the new design is horizontal!

Overall, it’s a really good and affordable player though. One of the best in the market IMHO. More in-depth review will be at TuxTops.com in one-two weeks time, after the holidays.

Merry Christmas everyone!