Those who were not set to sawing wood will remember that earlier this year I acquired my maguffin of wood-encased clock radio ipod dock goodness, the Vers 1.5R. I had some reservations and some revelations, and I’ve come to an accommodation with the device.
For workday/weekday wakeup, I use the alam on my mobile phone. It’s obnoxious enough and requires some fumbling to snooze, I can change the alarm sound and perhaps best of all, I can set it to go off only on weekdays, so I don’t blast myself at 5:23 on a weekend morning. For more leisurely weekends, I have a later alarm on the Vers 1.5R set to wake me to NPR. I also use it to listen to the radio at home, and – less frequently – to my iPod. You might argue that I’m not getting a lot of multi-functionality for the price, but I’m happy with it, and it looks and sounds great. The only mod I’m considering is a set of LightDims.
Black Friday rolled around, and I couldn’t help but do some window shopping and I noticed that only one of the current iPod family – the Classic – uses the formerly universal 30 pin dock connector that my Vers 1.5R sports for charging and playback. The Nano and the Touch use the new Lightning connector (or bluetooth/airplay) and the Shuffle uses a special headphone jack to USB cable. You could play any of them through your Vers via the headphone jack with the right cable, but you wouldn’t be able to control them with the Vers remote (not a great loss, really, the remote, as I’ve noted, is kinda awful) or charge them.
I’m sure there are real advantages to the Lightning connector for consumers – Apple’s site notes that it’s “reversible” – but I bet the biggest advantage is the additional power over accessory makers this new technology gives Apple. I’ll be avoiding a new iPod purchase as long as I can in part because of my attachment to the Vers 1.5R, but I bet third party accessory makers will have little choice but to jump through Cupertino’s hoops sooner rather than later.
Wired notes that some makers are going to airplay, and away from physical docks. This gives them maybe a little more independence perhaps, but don’t we still need to charge our iDevices? Vers headed that way with their new bluetooth 1Q speakers, but that seems a much less satisfying solution than the 1.5R, at least to me. Cult of Mac says that Apple will allow Lightning connector accessories to be made only at “apple approved factories.” I guess it could be good for labor conditions (couldn’t be worse, eh?) but almost certainly bad for customer choice.
I can be bummed out but hardly surprised at Apple heading this way. If they could figure out how to make sure that I only put my MacBook in an Apple approved briefcase, I’m sure they’d do it. In the world of patents on rounded corners, such domineering “protection” of user experience might not be that far-fetched. At least for now, you can still buy yourself a wide range of hand-crocheted iPad cases.