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Gadget Nirvana

The new iPodI have it, here in my trembling little hands. Oh man, it's so beautiful. If you held it, caressed its beautiful, touch-sensitive buttons and curved edges, you'd understand. Three times the capacity of my first one (up for grabs if anyone wants to buy one), but yet smaller, lighter, sleeker. Even the cables are thinner and less obtrusive. Even the headphones remote and the dock are simple, lovely objects all by themselves. Even more than the first iPod which struck me as the simplest, most beautiful design of consumer electronics ever this whole object is a masterpiece of product design, holding onto the elegance of the interface and basic object, but with just enough tweaks to improve on the details.

I caved in immediately when these were released last week, and it was agony waiting for them to finally start shipping. Once it finally left the warehouse in Taiwan two days ago (SARS be damned! I want my iPod!), I anxiously monitored its progress through FedEx's tracking system, hoping it would arrive before the weekend. And now it's here: my precious!

Apple is very shrewd. They lost sight of it for a while during the nineties, but they've really come back to this place where they understand how important sexiness and luxury and a well designed experience are for their products. If their products are going to cost more, they still need more than just great performance in order to succeed in the marketplace. Apple's design team understands that not only should the product itself be well made, but there should be a uniform if not escalating experience of excitement from the outermost packaging to the accessories to the thing itself. It's a design solution in many ways: pay enough attention to each part of the overall package and it won't seem like you've cut corners along the way. The little extras will feel more like parts of a richer whole, not just afterthoughts thrown in a box.

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