iPod mini reviews

MacUser has a review of the iPod mini, which, try as they might, they can’t see the appeal of. Maybe it’s because of this: “While we haven’t been able to test a unit yet, the specifications and price don’t seem to suggest that Apple has a winner on its hands.” Seems to me that a device whose main attraction is its size is something that has to be evaluated physically, rather than the review-by-spec that MacUser writer Kenny Hemphill has come up with — viz.: step one, divide capacity by price and compare with least expensive full-sized iPod; step two, conclude that the mini is a poor value. (I went on about this at length in a previous entry.) You’d think that by now the product reviewers would be able to break out of the pack and say something that hasn’t already been said a dozen times before. [Edited]

Part of the problem is the myopia of much of the Mac commentariat: they know a lot about the Macintosh ecosystem, but don’t do so well outside of it. Thus they can compare the value of a 1.25-GHz iMac vs. a 1.6-GHz Power Mac G5 on price and performance, but wouldn’t do so well comparing them to their PC equivalents. iPods aren’t Macs, they’re consumer electronics devices; yet Mac commentators fall into the habit of comparing one Apple product to another one, instead of comparing them to the other manufacturers’ products — they do exist, people — against which the gadget will be competing. That’s like comparing a US$2,999 17-inch Powerbook to a US$2,999 dual-processor G5 on performance and complaining that the Powerbook is too underpowered for the price: they’re different products serving different needs.

Fortunately, Mac.Ars doesn’t make that mistake, and provides a list of the competing MP3 players in the same price bracket. And Eric Bangeman’s analysis of the potential market is much more thoughtful. Now that’s more like it. (Not a permanent link Link updated.)