Saved by ‘Old’ Technology!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – the iPod Touch is the worst iPod I have ever owned. Why do I say that? Because one of my main listening modes is in the car to and from work and between different offices, and changing anything requires you to look at the iPod Touch – and therefore away from whatever else you are doing! And as Carly mentioned here, that can be a very dangerous prospect.

For a long time I used a second generation 4GB iPod Nano, but the screen slowly stopped functioning and then the device totally died last year, and I have been using the Touch ever since.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning my desk and found my old 40GB iPod – the type with the capacitive buttons all in a row under the screen that Apple made exactly once. I had unsuccessfully tried to get it going again in some capacity last year and was giving it one last shot before handing it to my younger son for a techno-dissection! To my surprise it worked, I was able to sync up a decent chunk of my iTunes Library, and using an old Belkin car charger got me past the battery life of the old iPod – it will last from 1 – 2 hours depending on hard disk usage. I was terribly excited by this and had snapped the picture above to post about the usability of older devices.

Yesterday morning I had to travel from one office to another, and was taking the ‘County Route’ to get to the main highway. This is a hilly area, and so as I was driving along I was also changing songs on my iPod, and I crested at hill at 45MPH only to see town workers trimming trees and a car fully in my lane heading straight at me also doing 45! I quickly stepped on my brakes, while the other driver was too busy checking out what the workers were doing to notice my until my brakes shrieked! Then he slowed down enough to have control as he weaved back to his own side of the road.

It all lasted only a few seconds, but had I been using the iPod Touch I would have had to double-tap the home button, look down to see where the forward area was located before tapping it to advance songs. With the old iPod I could do it all by feel without even looking. And without sounding too ominous … those critical seconds could have made all the difference.

As Carly mentioned, more and more we get our music on our phones – whether through internal storage playback or streaming services – and since these are largely touch-operated devices that means that you are looking away from the road to do something on your phone. Everyone knows the dangers of texting while driving … but we also need to be aware of the dangers of changing songs while driving!

Categories: Gear Bits

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10 replies

  1. And that’s why I have a Sansa Fuze (no Plus monstrosity) for the car, and when it dies I’ll seek out a refurb model just like it. The physical buttons are non-negotiable, no matter what the iGeeks say.

  2. Hmm, I am the exact opposite to you both :-)

    I used to use a HDD iPod and thought it was lethal, trying to select a song with the click wheel whilst driving was too dangerous.

    I got a Touch in 2009 and have used it daily since. I use playlists and spent 59p on Fluxtunes, which turns the screen into a giant button – tap to play/pause, swipe to change songs. IMO – and it is only an opinion – using ANY device with tiny physical buttons is stupid whilst driving – I used my Nokia N95 for 2 years and know how many times I had a near miss. The Touch is a far better solution IMO, but you need to plan in advance.

    • With my music players (Fuze now, E200 prior), there are very few buttons and they are logically arrayed. It takes all of ten seconds to learn them intuitively (up is play/pause, left is back, right is forward) and then you never have to look at the device at all. I find it hard to imagine how that would be more distracting than a touchscreen with no method of even telling its orientation without a bit of groping, but whatever works.

      Also, the touchscreen players in their DEFAULT configurations don’t have a simple one-button screen, I’d wager.

      • No, the simple one-button screen isn’t the default, but for 59p it was the best app I have bought. I agree htat learning button posiitons is simple but you need to flocate the device, make sure hte correct button is being pressed – very do-able, I did it for 2 years, but I feel the Touch is safer for me.

        Ideally, my car stereo would have bluetooth and control my device using the buttons on the steering wheel, but I don’t have such a system. THAT would be safest, I think.

  3. I think the bottom line is this – anything that takes your eyes and attention away from the road is dangerous.

    Inherently something with tactile feedback is superior as you KNOW something has happened, which is why the iPod Nano was great – it had the center wheel with buttons that you could hold in your hand and control without ever looking. But having the whole screen as a single button could also work well … so long as the screen doesn’t ever lock and screen rotation isn’t an issue and you never get notifications …

    • And you only ever want to do the one thing that one button is programmed to do…

    • As I say, you need to plan – hence the use of playlists. The Touch won’t be disturbed by notifications as it is WiFI, not 3G. Screen rotation is not an issue for Fluxtunes. You can program it to do what you want [including 1,2,3 finger swipes] and I set the Touch to never auto-turn off – after all, I’m in my car so charge via USB.

      In the end it is horses for courses – for ME, the HHD iPod was useless, and FOR ME, small physical buttons are not always easy to find when driving. I drive a minimum 18,000 miles a year for commuting [leisure use on top of that] so anything I can do to reduce the risk of an accident is good. If what you do works for you, more power to your elbow 😉

  4. Same reason for me. My Zune80 got jacked, so I replaced it with a Zune HD – couldn’t get used to it, and it annoyed me to no end. Ended up selling the thing, and got another Zune80 instead. The Squircle rocks! :)

  5. One of the things I miss about having BUTTONS on devices is exactly this. It is much safer to press a physical hardware button than to look around on a touchscreen. This goes for phones too. Judie and I both like having hardware buttons instead of silkscreen buttons on Android devices. Maybe I’m just old-school.