So, enticed by this blog entry, I decide to go out and buy an iPod (ca-ching$) as a birthday present for someone who loves music. We're excited as we open the box. From here on out... Well, let me just say the consumer experience was less than optimal:
- First off, I now realize what "included Firewire cable" really means - it only works with a special type of socket/plug/port/"whatever you call these things" that appears to be something that Macs support (but no one else does, or more specifically, the IBM thinkpad my friend has).
- No problem, looking around on the net we see that you can buy a cable that has Firewire on one end and USB on the other. Forty bucks later (ca-ching$) we hurry back to the apartment to give it a whirl. Nope - no sign of life from the iPod. At this stage I'm thinking I may have to (*gasp*) Read The Fuzzy (Socks) Manual. Oh wait, where's the manual? There is no manual. No manual? - What's up with that! Oh well, back to the web to see what can be gleaned from the online help at Apple
- Well, it turns out we need to make sure we are using USB 2.0. I spend considerable time trying to figure out if this laptop has that, but at the end of the day I give up and go back to the store. At this stage buyer's remorse is starting to kick in, and I'm thinking "should of just bought it from Apple..."
- I'm back at the shop and at the service desk now. Funny how I'm noticing the signs posted everywhere saying "Absolutely No Refunds" now. The guy who looks like he is 12 years old at the back of the store plugs the iPod into the desktop PC on his workbench. The Apple logo appears on the iPod. Sheez... Hate it when that happens! Must of been the USB port on the Thinkpad after all right?
- I'd seen this PCMIA card that you can plug into your laptop to give it a Firewire port, so I figure I'll give that a shot. Another sixty bucks (ca-ching$) later I'm on my way back to the office, and telling my friend that I had indeed seen the iPod work, so there is hope yet.
- A little smarter this time, I decide to try out the card at work first before embarrasing myself in front of my friend again. (Funny how, since I'm a software developer, I'm supposed to know about all this "computer" stuff, yet continually get caught up with hardware problems. I wonder if hardware guys have the same problems with software that I do with hardware.).
- I plug the card in and via the wonders of "plug and pray" it loads its own driver. It goes through its machinations of asking me seemingly inane questions about installing it (probably something important, but I just clicked Ok anyway). So far so good, I plug in the iPod and it starts flashing "don't disconnect cable" in what seems to me to be a cry for help - Ok little buddy, don't you fret now, I won't disconnect the cable.
- Watching the iPod flash its urgent message is like watching the heart monitor machine. Beep, beep, beep, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep - it has flatlined. It is now resolutely displaying the low battery icon. That is it. No amout of re-installing, or re-plugging in can conjole the iPod back to life.
- Back to the store. This time I take the laptop with me. Ok, we agree the PCMIA card is a dud (what was that thing about refunds? Oh right, absolutely none).
- We don't agree the iPod is a dud. Much as I hate conflict, this was really too much. I have effectively got a $200 (after rebate) paperweight, so I say to the guy "What am I supposed to do with it?", holding up the iPod forlornly. Thankfully he relented, and I get a credit note for both the dodgy card and surly iPod. <opinion type="cynical">Great, I can now look forward to buying another piece of dodgy hardware that probably won't work...</opinion>
Moral of the story time:
- As the popular saying goes, "The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from". In other words, make sure you have a Firewire port if you try to buy an iPod "with Firewire cable included".
- Absolutely No Refund sucks.
- Sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes you just feel ripped off.