Apples or Oranges?

I’m a sucker for bright, shiny objects. And not just any bright, shiny objects. I’m talking about expensive bright, shiny objects that can play music and connect to the internet and do all kinds of other cool things. I’m talking about gadgets. I have several gadgets, and I love them all. I love my Zune(s), I love my netbook, I love my DS, I love my Xbox, and my Playstation 3, and I even kind of love my Wii. But as much as I love the gadgets I own, there are, of course, many more gadgets that I wish I owned. And of all the gadgets I wish I owned, none fill me with such conflicting feelings of lust and disgust as those gadgets made by Apple.

Ah, Apple. How do I love/hate thee? Let me count the ways. First of all, from a design standpoint, Apple’s products are unmatched by any of their competitors. For example, there simply is no laptop on the market as beautiful as a MacBook Pro. But that’s part of the problem also. Apple’s industrial design is so far ahead of everyone else’s that Apple hasn’t updated its designs for a couple of years now. So when I see a MacBook Pro, part of me thinks “that is the most beautiful piece of technology I’ve ever seen, and I need it,” but another part of me thinks “Really? That’s all you’ve got?” I’m bored of the MacBook Pro design, and yet, I desperately want one, because, like I said, I’m a sucker for bright, shiny objects, and there is no laptop-shaped object brighter or shinier than the MacBook Pro.

Another area where my feelings toward Apple are conflicted is that of functionality. For example, I love listening to music. And I love listening to a wide variety of music, and having a massive selection of music available to me at all times. So an MP3 player is pretty much a must-have for me. And Apple’s premiere MP3 player, the iPod Touch, is a fine device. And I, of course, want one. But from a pure music-lover’s perspective, I find that the device I do own, the Zune HD, is superior. It’s difficult to adequately explain why, but I find the user experience when it comes to music is better on the Zune HD than on the iPod Touch. Plus the Zune HD has a music subscription service, so for $15 a month, I can listen to virtually anything I want. The iPod Touch doesn’t have this option. So that’s fine, right? I mean, I have the device that’s better for what I want to do, yeah? Well, yeah. But the iPod Touch also has other functionality that the Zune HD does not have. The iPod Touch has access to what’s known as the App Store, which basically provides near-infinite expansion of the device’s abilities. According to Apple’s website, there is something like 150,000 apps on the App Store. That’s a lot. By contrast, the Zune HD is technically capable of running apps, but the selection is limited to a dozen or so. Most of which are pointless games, although there are few useful apps. So the Zune HD is a great music player, but that’s basically it, whereas the iPod Touch is virtually a full computer that fits in the palm of your hand.

So this is the source of more of my frustration with Apple. The iPod Touch is an awesome little device. I want one. I want to be able to play Plants vs. Zombies and check my email on a handheld device and whatnot. But it doesn’t do the most important things I want out of an MP3 player, namely, deliver a really nice music experience and a music subscription service. So it’s not really worth the $300 it would cost me to get one. But I still want one. See? I’m conflicted.

Continuing on with the functionality thing, Apple’s new device, the iPad, is a perfect example of how Apple’s products do some things really well, and do other things, well, not at all. The iPad, like all Apple products, is beautiful. It also does lots of things. You can listen to music with it, watch movies on it, surf the internet, read books, play games, look at pictures, and countless other things using apps from the App Store. But it has some weird limitations too. It doesn’t have a camera, which means that it can’t be used for video chats. The screen is not widescreen, so if you watch movies on it, there will be black bars on the top and bottom. It is incompatible with Flash, so you can’t watch most web videos on it. It’s also surprisingly heavy for as thin and small as it is.

My biggest problem with Apple, though, is price. Apple’s products are, frankly, overpriced. All of the other problems I have with Apple’s products combined don’t come close to matching that one. As much as I want one device to listen to music on, surf the internet on, play games on, and so forth, I don’t really have a problem with buying an iPod Touch in addition to my Zune HD. Except that I would have to spend at least 300 bucks. Same thing with the iPad. Yeah, it has some weird limitations, but that’s not really what’s holding me back from buying one. The thing that’s holding me back is that they cost at least $500. That is a lot of money. If I could use it as my primary computer, that would be one thing. But it wouldn’t replace my computer, and it wouldn’t replace my Zunes, and, really, there isn’t anything I own that I could use the iPad in place of. It would just be another toy. Which would be great, but I just don’t have $500+ to spend on a toy. Heck, I don’t have $300 to spend on a toy. And so I’m reduced to ranting about Apple on my blog and surfing their website to drool over all the wonderful toys I wish I had but simply can’t afford. On my netbook. While I listen to music on one of my Zunes. And manage the content on another Zune. And contemplate playing a video game on my Playstation 3. Okay, so maybe I have enough toys.

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