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March 07, 2006

iPod Hi-Fi with AirTunes

Categories Apple iPod 

Like most people I was a bit disappointed by the iPop Hi-Fi. I still can't understand why Apple bothered to make a dockable speaker system, which is objectively just like all the other dockable speaker systems. It just doesn't seem worth their time. I'm also incredibly suprised and confused that they did not build "AirTunes" into the iPod Hi-Fi. Being able to stream music from iTunes to the iPod Hi-Fi is not only an obvious feature, but it would have clearly distinguished the iPod Hi-Fi from all the other high end dockable speaker systems.

While Apple is rarely the first to market with anything, they aren't known for releasing the type of shameless "me too" products of other manufacturers. That's what makes the iPod Hi-Fi especially disappointing, it's a "me too" product in the worst possible way because it makes no substantive improvements from all the other similar products before it. For instance, you cannot sync an iPod in the iPod Hi-Fi, which was a common complaint when the Bose SoundDock emerged well over a year ago. And the remote doesn't offer a display to allow you to navigate through the iPod songs, another common complaint about dockable speakers (and the AirPort Express).

Also, the name, while catchy and nostalgic, is a bit off. The term "Hi-Fi" (to me at least) implies a bunch of home audio equipment that at the very least includes a radio. Apple could have capitalized on this name and included the necessary hardware for the iPod Hi-Fi to stream internet radio, which would have been a clever interpretation of the meaning of a "Hi-Fi". But again, another obvious feature omission on Apple's part.

However, the coolest feature that Apple could have created for their first dockable speaker system is this: if the speaker system joined the wireless network and shared the iPod's music with any iTunes clients on the network. I can't even begin to imagine how cool and useful such a feature would be for those of us with multiple computers and multiple users all struggling to consolidate and share music. Oh, well maybe in the iPod Hi-Fi Gen2…



Hi-Fi simply means "high fidelity." It has absolutely nothing to do with components in a home audio system, and certainly in no ways implies "radio."

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