Think Doofus

Posted By on September 23, 2009

“Apple: ‘Bite the big weenie. There, now isn’t that good?'”

.: I was the happy owner of a second-generation iPod shuffle for about a year until it stupidly found its way into a load of laundry. I used it mostly in the gym and occasionally in long lines, and it served its function admirably. I had a few quibbles with it (the cord for the earphones was a tad short, and would it kill advertisers to make 1 gigabyte equivalent to 1 gigabyte?), but all things considered it got the job done.

.: This morning, after needing to loosen my belt a notch, I resolved to return to the gym. I didn’t want to face physical exertion without some sort of non-illicit relief, and that’s when my brilliant mind kicked in: “Cody,” it said, “you don’t need to exercise in agony. You have a job now, which means you have money, which means you can buy an iPod and not have to listen to your body hate itself.” This is why people should listen to their brains more often.

.: So, today, I picked up the new third-generation shuffle for $80 — more than I intended to spend, and far more than I should have spent. Almost immediately after removing it from the box, I discovered the third-generation is an irredeemable piece of crap burdened with head-slappingly stupid design quirks and a huge leap backward from the second-generation. What follows is, I wholly admit, pointless bitching over something that is ultimately of no significance, and readers are advised to better spend their time elsewhere. Those who wish to remain may resume reading below:

.: The biggest flaw is obvious: the controls are now integrated into the cord of the earphones, which means you cannot use other headphones with this device.

.: This is stupid.

.: Why? Because Apple’s earphones suck. Most people aren’t symmetrical. Go ahead and look in a mirror; I bet you a shiny dollar one of your ears is lower than the other. Ear canals are asymmetrical too, and for the life of me I cannot fit Apple’s earphone into my left ear without it popping out at the slightest provocation. It would be nice to use an alternative set of headphones, but thanks to their boneheaded design I can’t.

.: Another stupid consequence of placing the controls on the cord is the lack of visibility. Go ahead, try to look at your neck. No mirror this time. Any luck? Well, that’s where the controls hang out, dangling all over the place. You have to feel around blindly until you find it, sliding your fingers up or down the cord. I could barely change a song without pulling the earbud out of my ear — not the kind of event you want to contend with when you’re on a treadmill.

.: Changing a song is another simple task they screwed up. There are three buttons on the controls: two for volume and one for everything else. To play or pause a song, click once. To skip to the next track, click twice. To go back a track, click three times. To change a playlist, click and hold. And so on. Stupid. At the very least, skipping should be one click since that’s what we’re going to do most often. Having to click twice means there’s twice as great a chance we’re just going to yank the damn thing out of our ear.

.: Also, having the controls in the middle of the cord ruins a previous innovation that allowed one to store earphones tangle-free: the little slider no longer completely encloses both strands; instead, the left cord now clips to the slider, forming a tenuous connection which is knocked free by even the most undetectable of neutrinos. I hate to pose a question so unoriginally, but I can think of no other phrasing which better expresses the sentiment: just what in the hell where they thinking?

.: On a related note, if anyone out there has a second-generation shuffle they’d be willing to part with, I’m offering a reasonable price.

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