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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Walkman vs. iPod

13-year-old Scott Campbell swapped his iPod for a Sony Walkman for a week and detailed his experience for BBC Magazine:
When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."

My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly -- effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day.

Read the rest here.

This trip down memory lane gives me an idea. I still have a bunch of unopened blank cassettes lying around the house, so maybe I'll make my wife a lovely mixed tape for her birthday. If she can't find her Walkman, all she would have to do is hook the boom box up to the computer, convert the audio to mp3 files, import the songs into iTunes, and then copy them to her iPod.

Yeah, nothing says "I love you" like a mixed tape!

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