Backstage | iLounge

Backstage

Backstage at iLounge is the combined blog of our editors, featuring casual and often only loosely iPod-, iPhone- or iPad-related discussions that our readers may enjoy. Founded in July, 2004, Backstage has served as a launching pad for stories that later appear on the main site, and as a place to discuss portable phones, games, computers, and accessories. Visit Backstage Archives for past stories, and bookmark backstage.ilounge.com for new ones.

Backstage: Apple drops Remote and Case pack-ins

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.19.04 | 19 comments

As iLounge moderator Andy Hedin was first to point out, Apple has unexpectedly and belatedly removed two pack-ins from the new 40GB iPod’s box - after listing them on its web site. For the moment, it appears that neither the wired Remote control ($39) nor Apple’s fabric carrying case with belt clip ($39) will be included with either fourth-generation iPod, a change from past Apple practice. Prior generations of iPods differentiated between price points not only with storage capacity, but with pack-ins, such that the top two iPods each included these otherwise optional accessories; now the only difference between the iPods will be the inclusion of the optional Dock ($39) in the 40GB box. Additionally, Apple’s web site now states that neither the new 40GB iPod nor the 20GB iPod will ship with a 4-to-6 pin FireWire adapter, a piece previously included mostly for PC laptop users.

While these changes were most likely made to achieve cost reductions, we’re still surprised that Apple’s web page launched this morning with inaccurate information, even including third-generation iPod part numbers. For reference, a screen grab comparison of the relevant portions of the original and revised pages appears below.

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Backstage: We looked, no new iPods @ Apple Store

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.19.04 | 7 comments

picNo go. We’ve checked with Apple Store retail locations across the United States, and even though Apple is claiming that the new fourth-generation iPods are available today, there’s no trace of them anywhere in stores. The first two stores we contacted did not volunteer an official availability date, while others in Chicago and New York City indicated that the new iPods would be available “in about a week.” Three of the locations noted that Apple’s online store is taking “pre-orders” for the device, which is claimed online to be on “1-2 business days” availability, with orders already being confirmed as in process.

The attached photo depicts a seriously bummed out Dennis drowning his sorrows in an ice cold Frappuccino (left), with Jeremy’s favorite Super Caramel Frappuccino to the right, after we visited a Southern California area Apple Store to confirm the news.

Backstage Opinion: Is the Click Wheel right for you?

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.17.04 | 25 comments

picTwenty-four hours ago, it seemed like no one cared whether the iPod mini’s Click Wheel controls were superior to the touch-sensitive Scroll Wheel and button controls of the third-generation iPod. But now that Apple has discarded the Scroll Wheel in the fourth-generation iPod, readers have been asking whether the design change is a good or bad thing.

Dennis and I have talked this one through repeatedly since the release of the iPod mini, and mostly agree that the Click Wheel is great. Dennis has been a strong supporter of the Click Wheel since its inception, citing both its superior ease of use and smaller control footprint on the iPod’s face. It’s the economy of the Click Wheel (and loss of separate buttons), he notes, that could give a future iPod’s face enough space for a larger screen, or permit the casing to be shrunk even more. He seems to have been proved correct in Apple’s fourth-generation iPod design, though not in the way most people were expecting.

I agree with all of Dennis’s points, and both love and admire the Click Wheel’s simplicity, but one thing detracts from its utility in my personal life at night - the actual clicking part. While it’s great that the mini’s buttons are tactile, their clicking sounds have a way of waking up the person sleeping next to you. (Danger Sidekick addicts have reported the same problem with their significant others.) For this reason and this reason only, I don’t use my mini at night, and have my fingers crossed that the 4G’s new Click Wheel will be as whisper quiet as the 3G iPod’s touch-sensitive controls. If the extra sound isn’t an issue where you live, the Click Wheel is unquestionably a slam dunk of a design - one of Apple’s best ever - regardless of whether the company fine tunes it further.

Backstage: Coming soon, for July 17 2004

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.17.04 | 3 comments

picOkay, okay, so we didn’t mention last week that we were about to unveil the first review anywhere of Apple’s new wireless AirPort Express base station with AirTunes. Sorry about that; we wanted the review to be a pleasant surprise. Hope you saw and enjoyed it.

Reviews of Sena’s case and the Otterbox oPod (water resistant, not water proof) case are both finished and ready to go live on the main site soon, as is a review of a new product that came in the door from DC Shoes and Incase, the “white camo” Sleeve. Fashion and “street wear” cases look to be the new big deal in iPod land these days, and to update a favorite trite fashion phrase, camouflage is the new black. We’ve been testing a new Gravis Footwear case called the G-Pod, which like the DC Shoes Sleeve just happens to match a camo backpack the company’s selling. And then there are a few new iPod cases that can be imprinted with your choice of graphics. We’ll discuss those on the main site next week.

Looks like Monday’s going to be a big day for iLounge main site updates, so park your browser there early and reload occasionally. (Yes, we’re working very hard on fixing the site’s current speed issues. Traffic has been overwhelming, and thank you all for your support.)

Backstage: Why iLounge doesn’t run rumors

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.15.04 | 5 comments

picRumors. Even though they’re occasionally exciting and could generate even more traffic for the site, we have steadfastly refused to cover them on iLounge. We didn’t make this decision to curry favor with Apple, but rather because rumors are so notoriously unreliable, especially when Apple products are involved.

After all, Apple has a history of cancelling completed projects at the very last moment, so even something that was tantalizingly close to being true (post-Newton PDA, anyone?) can become false via last-minute cancellation. And then there’s the iPod mini, which was vaguely “known” to exist a bit before the official announcement, just at the completely wrong price ($99? $199?) and specifications (2GB).

Sure, it’s tempting to at least put up news stories mentioning the rumors, especially when everyone “just knows” that a new iPod must be coming soon (many people have been predicting an announcement each month for six months now) and since so many of the rumors were supposedly “confirmed by reliable sources.” ...

[Entry continues at the Read More link below.]

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Announcing Backstage.iLounge.com

By Jeremy Horwitz | 07.14.04 | 0 comments

picWelcome to iLounge Backstage! Every week, at least five new and interesting things happen behind the scenes at iLounge, and until today, we didn’t have a place on the main site to discuss them. This new section of iLounge is now that place. Dennis and I plan to use this space to talk about what we’re working on, testing, and thinking about, along with occasional asides on other issues that might interest us but not belong elsewhere on iLounge.

As an initial iLounge-related entry, we have six products currently undergoing testing for our reviews section. In the queue are two iPod accessories from Gadget Accessories, Tunewear’s new Icewear case for iPod mini, a new Sena fashion leather case (in two colors) for iPod mini, the new oPod by Otterbox for 3G iPods, and Speck’s new SkinTight Armband for iPod mini. We’re also expecting some potentially exciting new products from iSkin in the very near future, and considering the possibility of an updated roundup of third-generation iPod docks and stands… the only issue with which is that there aren’t many out there any more. The really cool ones that MacMice and other companies made have disappeared or been discontinued (see photo for an example). Have you seen one that you’ve liked? Is it still being sold someplace? If so, drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do about checking it out.

On another note, if you haven’t entered the iLounge Triple Crown Giveaway yet, now’s the time. Hint: we’re especially interested in seeing what people do with the iPod Style gallery…

Backstage: Elemental iPod

By Dennis Lloyd | 07.14.04 | 13 comments

picpicAs Jeremy mentioned above, welcome to our backstage area! This space will provide you with a sense of who we are and what we do at iLounge and the lives we live.

What has four wheels and can plug an iPod into? It’s my new ‘04 Honda Element with a built-in auxiliary port to jack my iPod into the cars’ stereo system. It’s definitely the best thing about my new ‘RocketBox’. Rocket = my dog (the official iLounge mascot), Box = Element. For a six foot four guy, this thing is heaven sent - plenty of room and then some - Rocket (behind the seat) likes it as well. Oh, and that’s Ferris the Cat peeking around the wall.

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