Stephen Hackett loves old Macs. (And iPhones and iPods and Newtons.) His fascination with old Apple hardware and the passion to share it with a larger audience — many of whom weren’t around for the dark days when Apple was doomed — is one of the things I love most about reading 512 Pixels.
He’s slowly been expanding into video production with a channel on YouTube. The latest video covers the iPod Shuffle, the tiny iPod without a screen that Apple still sells. At just $49, it’s not much more expensive than a long USB-C cable and may be the best bargain in Apple’s lineup after the $399 iPhone SE. Stephen writes about the original Shuffle:
The first Shuffle was built like a glorified USB thumb drive. This new player was smaller than a pack of chewing gum, and built around the concept of shuffling your music. There was no need for a screen or a true clickwheel. If you wanted to listen to music in order, the switch on the back could be set to continuous playback.
Ah, nostalgia. One of the reasons I blog at all, and have been for 14 years now, isn’t so much for today’s audience but tomorrow’s. Even the most mundane blog posts take on new significance with a few years’ distance. Old technical topics have surprisingly poor representation on today’s web, as linkrot sets in.
I’m looking forward to what else Stephen has planned. I know from the Connected podcast that lately he has been trying to collect all the different original iMac colors. (Two other podcasts that are worth a listen for an additional trip down memory lane: The Record and Simple Beep.)
Kirk McElhearn writes (via Thomas Brand) that when you include the cost of buying an iPhone, the actual cost of the Apple Watch is $900 or more:
“That’s $349 for the cheapest Apple Watch – the Sport model – and $549 for the cheapest iPhone (the 5s; I don’t count the 5c, because it’s too limited). This is the unlocked price for the iPhone, of course; you can get one cheaper if you commit to a contract.”
While I generally agree with the sentiment, I have to take issue with his dismissal of the 5C, which I’ve been using as my primary phone for over a year now. I’m an iPhone developer, so if it’s good enough for me it seems adequate for regular users who just want to use the Apple Watch. In fact, the opposite of Kirk’s argument is actually true: pairing an Apple Watch with the 5C makes the phone less limited than before by adding Apple Pay to it.
The 5C unlocked is $450, which drops the total price with watch to $800. And really, it’s a non-issue, since nearly everyone excited about the watch already has an iPhone.
When Apple shipped the first iPod, it required a Mac. Later they supported Windows, and today the iPod Touch is completely untethered and requires no computer. I expect we’ll see a similar transition with the watch becoming increasingly more useful as a standalone device, but there’s no rush to get there.
Kirby Turner wrote about needing an iPhone 6 Plus as a developer but not really wanting one as a user:
“As a developer what I really want is an iPod touch Plus. If Apple were selling an iPod touch Plus that is the same as the iPhone 6 Plus minus the phone, then I would buy it in an instant. That way I could continue using my iPhone 5 as my primary phone device and the iPod touch Plus as a test device.”
I’ve talked about skipping this phone generation on the podcast a few times. I already got out of the yearly updates when I kept the 4S forever and then got the 5C instead of the 5S. After seeing the 6 Plus in person at the Apple Store and with everyone who had one at Çingleton, I’m pretty comfortable with my decision. But I’d strongly consider replacing my iPad Mini with a 5.5-inch iPod Touch.
I’m fascinated with the iPad “3” rumors because on the surface they make so little sense. Apple just shipped the iPad 2, no competitors can match it, and demand is strong. Why mess with a good thing so soon?
But it almost fits when you give it a name like “Pro” (or iPad Retina, or whatever). This isn’t a replacement for the current iPad; it’s another layer to the product lineup. And like the awkwardly-named iPod Photo from 2004, I bet the iPad Pro is meant to be temporary. It’s a way to sell a high-end, over-priced and over-pixeled iPad before the technology is cheap enough for the masses. A year or two from now, the Retina Display will be available in all iPads, and the “Pro” name will fade away, just like iPod Photo did when all iPods got a color screen.