While the release of a different colored version of an existing product typically isn’t something to get excited about, there’s reason to believe that the iPod U2 Special Edition will be an exception to that rule. Actually, there are a couple of reasons.
Like a number of other recent Apple products – and in no way the fault of the company’s generally superb photographers – the U2 iPod just looks better in person than it does in official publicity shots. For one, Apple’s switch from white to black plastic adds a subtle mirror-like quality to the front of the case, unexpectedly enhancing the iconic appeal of the iPod’s body design. Then there’s the Click Wheel. The white iPod’s use of a gray Click Wheel was more practical than stylish, but the red and white U2 Click Wheel – red background, white letters – is positively more attractive, if not as elegant. U2’s engraved names and the U2 logo on the case’s rear are nothing extraordinary, but the front casing is almost exactly the hint of Mont Blanc we’ve wanted Apple to more fully embrace for some time.
There aren’t any secrets in the box. Most unfortunately, the U2 iPod didn’t surprise us by coming pre-loaded with any U2 music, such as the band’s newest album, again calling into question whether a last-minute deal fell through before the device’s announcement. The presence of a $50 coupon towards a $149 U2 box set is no consolation prize from our standpoint, either, nor is the included poster which features a set of band photos on one side and a seemingly hasty monologue from U2’s Bono on the other.
Packed-in accessories in the box are otherwise identical to those shipped with 20GB fourth-generation iPods. There’s no Dock, for example (let alone a black one), and the headphones remain Apple’s iconic white. The biggest change is the manual holder that ships on the left side of the box, which is now black rather than white, and in our box was actually filthy with brown dirt or dust streaks when it was opened. Unlike early 20GB and 40GB fourth-generation iPods, some of which were reported to have shipped with adhesive goo and scratches on their front and rear surfaces, the manual holder was the only tarnished component in the U2 iPod’s box, but inexplicably so.
But there may be some other good news for potential U2 iPod buyers. Preliminary audio testing on our U2 iPod suggests that Apple may have remedied or at least dramatically reduced the presence of the audio defect we’ve previously reported in fourth-generation iPods. While the defect seemed to materialize in only a subset of earlier units, and therefore we’ll need to wait for more reader input before concluding that the defect has been fixed, we haven’t heard it at all in this unit. Please feel free to use this thread to report your findings on this issue.
Our gallery of iPod U2 Special Edition photos can be viewed here.