The BBC has profiled a charmingly articulate 13-year-old boy’s assessment of the Walkman vs. his trusty iPod.
Obvious “mommy totally wrote this for me” aside, it was an interesting article. Reading the piece, I recalled about a decade ago when my mother was driving a cousin somewhere when he started frantically smacking the window crank in the car. It took her a second to realize that the kid, now 19, had never seen a manual open/close window doodad. He had no idea what to do with the crank-thingy.
So Scott Campbell, hailing from Aberdeenshire, gamely traded his iPod for a Walkman for a whole week. Scotty starts his review:
So it’s not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing choice of music player. If I was browsing in a shop maybe I would have chosen something else.
From a practical point of view, the Walkman is rather cumbersome, and it is certainly not pocket-sized, unless you have large pockets. It comes with a handy belt clip screwed on to the back, yet the weight of the unit is enough to haul down a low-slung pair of combats.
“Aesthetics” aside (did I mention this kid is very frickin’ eloquent?), Scott has a bit to learn about the technical limitations of his new old device. After taking two days to realize that the tape actually has two sides, he then “mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser.” In another “man I’m old” moment, you can read about his surprise at the lack of a shuffle option. I’m still impressed by the inclusion of one. Campbell craftily uses the rewind function to create an ad hoc shuffle feature.
Dad comes in all buzzkilly here and tells the kid about the Walkman’s “tape munching” feature. Even I’d forgotten about that, despite having spent hours at the age of thirteen myself tearfully untangling my beloved Doors cassettes. Also mentioned is the Walkman’s insatiable thirst for batteries, all but forgotten to us now as our toys charge mainly via USB or in a wall socket.
The kid isn’t all unimpressed though, he liked the two headphone jacks to share music with a friend. But his overall impression is that of horror- each tape only held about twelve tracks!