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Reading Scoble today, I noticed a post where he was pretty much asking why you would pay $399 for a top-end iPod rather than $499 for a MS Media Centre that plays videos too. From looking at the media centre pages, I can think of at least two reasons:

  1. The MS device is around twice as big and twice as heavy as an iPod.
  2. The MS device plays videos.

Yes, you heard me right, “the MS device plays videos” as a reason against it. I have to make the point that the iPod (or, indeed, any other portable music player) is designed for use anywhere. Most of the places you’d want to take an iPod, you would not want to be watching a video. Going jogging with Spirited Away? Watching Seinfeld at the station? I don’t think so, somehow. The iPod and others have caught on because they allow you an extra luxury (music in this case) without any extra hastle.

This is why there is no “video iPod” that pundits have been going on about for the last two years; why devices are getting smaller in size rather than larger in capacity. We would like extra entertainment and extra comfort. However, when forced to make a choice, many will go for comfort. A large, bulky device just is not going to provide this, even if it does play your favourite film.

This is what Apple is offering with the iPod Mini. Whilst it may not look much smaller, from what I have heard from those that have used it, it feels much smaller. The reduction in weight will have a large impact, especially at these sizes. An iPod is just large enough to be noticeable in your pocket, whilst an iPod Mini may not be. For many people, me possibly included, this is a big plus. The smaller size is more important than the extra capacity. One thousand songs is enough for me. Sure, an extra thousand or so could be had for an extra $50, but that isn’t a reason for us. Smaller and more convienient is better.

In general, we just don’t want to compromise. However, in some ways, we have to. To have a smaller music player we accept having less songs. The compromise offered by a Portable Media Centre, basically videos for a larger size, just isn’t worthwhile. This is why I would rather spend $399 on an iPod than one hundred more on a Media Centre and I’m sure many would agree.