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Being a Smart Gadgeteer

Frank Ahrens

My buddy Gene Weingarten told me over the weekend that his daughter, Molly, wants an iPod. He, raging technophile that he is, asked me what kind he should buy her.

"Will she use it to watch video?" I asked.

"You can watch video on it?" he responded, amazed.


Part of me thought, "How can you live in the world, in the United States, today and not know that iPods can play video?"

But then I stepped out of my little insulated cell and realized, well, it's pretty easy.

The truth is, Gene was asking just the right question: What kind of iPod should I get her? The larger question, of course is: What do I want from technology?

The temptation these days is to buy the latest, shiniest, coolest (and often most expensive) gadget, sometimes ending up with a bunch of functionality you never use. It's exactly the same as buying the refrigerator with the ice and water in the door. Sure, it looks cool, but if you end up never using it, you overpaid.

Gene doesn't think Molly will ever watch video on her iPod. "Who would want to watch video on such a tiny little screen?" he naively (but smartly) inquired, asking the question that tons of really rich, really smart folks at a lot of companies are trying to figure out right now.

In that case, I told him, it would make no sense for him to spend $249 for a video iPod, and more sense to pay $149 for an iPod Nano, which doesn't play video but holds plenty of songs.

I told Gene later that he should check out Microsoft's new Zune player, as well.

But all that extra info may actually make his head explode.

Today In The Post:

* My colleague Paul Farhi writes a paen to Tower Records, killed by, among other things, the downloadable song.


* Here's a piece I didn't get to last week about ad dollars flowing from radio to the Internet.

* Reacting to a recent school shooting, the Germans are looking to pass laws prohibiting the production of video games that show "cruel violence."

* OK, this is just plain freaky.

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 11, 2006; 12:14 PM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Why not a Creative player? The Visions are quite pretty, and are technically better than the iPods. Plus, there's a whole range of different colors to choose from.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 11, 2006 12:56 PM

Frank, it's "paean."

Also, don't be surprised by Gene. He shaves with a straight razor and tells time with an analog watch, for cryin' out loud.

Posted by: byoolin | December 11, 2006 1:24 PM

I'm a first time i-Pod user who just bought the new Nano and think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm at the other end of the age spectrum (68) and tend to load favorite parts of my CD collection on it, but I've bought through i-Tunes too. Yes, it's easy to use but I'd recommend picking up an instruction book somewhere just to learn all the things it can do. That's easier than downloading Apple's 60 some odd page manual. Zune? Not after reading you guys' reviews.

Posted by: Newbie | December 11, 2006 5:18 PM

Do you know I see zune video converter software isreleased in ?

Posted by: zune | December 13, 2006 9:38 PM

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