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Apple killed the TV star: Television on an iPod

BY JOHN DAAVETTILA
Daily Arts Writer
Published November 8, 2007

You've all seen the iPod nano: It's tiny, expensive and always has Nelly Furtado gracing its screen. Like the video iPod, you cannot only listen to music but watch TV episodes and movies. Having hours of entertainment in the palm of your hand is an exciting prospect, but there are some drawbacks.

Major television networks are basically obligated to allow their shows to be viewed online for free. All you have to do is have a computer and a relatively fast Internet connection. So why would anyone want to buy an episode on iTunes when you can get it for free on the network's site? At $1.99 a pop, the mobility hardly seems worth it, especially when the $2 could be spent on a poorly made snack.

The image you portray while watching your iPod isn't a positive one. Quietly laughing in response to a 2.5 square-inch episode of "The Daily Show" on the bus gives off a slightly crazy impression. Today's American culture is all about carrying unnecessary amounts of entertainment with you, but a line must be drawn. And when everyone starts to think you're not only high-tech but socially inept, the line is drawn.

The iPod has made a huge footprint in our culture - not all of it being good. While people now have the option of distorting their perception of the world and creating their own little bubble, they also have forsaken their people skills. We no longer make small talk with the cute girl at the bus stop because we're too busy listening to our favorite love song. Trading away your ability to communicate well for a handheld music player is a fool's bargain.

It's fairly well-known that the power of an iPod has a quick, downward slope. The iPod battery already dwindles fairly quickly, and it charges so poorly that you're left with only four hours of music to play before it dies again. The video on the iPod doesn't help. Playing straight video, the iPod will play for around two hours before dying.

Not to sound stodgy or rude, but there are better things to do while taking the bus or waiting for class than staring at a tiny screen. Phoning a friend, reading a book or simply letting your tired brain rest, all sound like better options.

But there could be an interesting feature of iPod videos: home movies. For the overly sentimental or the amateur moviemaker, being able to put your own movies - without any irritating converting - to your iPod would be sweet. But Apple has not included this feature on their iPods for unknown reasons.

College students stare at screens enough as it is. Screens - whether they be from a TV, cell phone, PowerPoint, theater, etc. - have our eyes' attention for an enormous chunk of our day, so it makes no sense to stare at another screen when it's completely unnecessary. It's understandable to want to be fully connected with the computer - the future! - but we need to stop when it becomes impractical.


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