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Living with old tech

Babylon 5, Season 5, Episode 14
"Meditations on the Abyss"
You're looking at a frame capture from my second generation iPod playing an episode from Babylon 5 via the Netflix application.

Under normal playing conditions you wouldn't see all the soft controls, but I had them up to provide context. With the controls hidden, the view of the image is clean and covers the screen.

It is amazing what such "old tech" can accomplish. My iPod 2G is running iOS 4.2.1, and because it's just a second generation device, key features are disabled.

But that doesn't matter. I can listen to music, stream video flawlessly via WiFi, play games, surf the web, or read news sites directly, such as NPR. All that capability, and more, resting lightly in the palm of my hand.

Even old Apple technology sets a highly competitive bar to meet. I say this in the context of a review of the Barnes and Noble Nook Color I wrote. In spite of the fact that the Nook Color is two years newer, larger, and with double the computational capability of the iPod 2G, its performance was very inferior to that iPod. And even I admit that my two-year-old iPod 2G doesn't perform at the higher levels that current Apple devices can perform at.

But it's still good enough to satisfy, and still better than many of the latest Android-powered devices trying to compete with it and its later descendants in the marketplace. Well designed and well implemented technology is timeless. It stops working only when it breaks, not because it was poorly done when released and therefore easily superseded when the next version is released.

I'll keep using my old and not-busted iPod 2G until it finally dies, probably in another two years. Then I'll get a replacement, and probably another Apple device. That sentiment is representative of the formidable market inertia that Android-powered tablets and similar devices are going to have to overcome if they're going to be successful: they're going to have to be demonstrably better, and by a wide margin.

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