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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smaller is Better--Flash vs Optical



Take a look at those two music systems. The MP3 player is about an order of magnitude smaller than the remote control and several orders smaller than the 5-CD changer itself.

This is an example of how improved technology can greatly reduce resource and energy use. Keep in mind that the MP3 player also eliminates the need for a few hundred compact discs as well. I use MP3 primarily for audio books, saving a few trees while I'm at it. My wife, who I love dearly, is mildly technophobic, bordering on Luddite. I can't see her ever giving up the comfort of paper books.

Technically, both of these are digital audio players but one uses a flash chip to store the MP3 sound file while the other uses optical discs.

Our CD changer is finally crapping out, skipping over two of the five loaded compact discs. My wife listens to music when she's hanging out and this was starting to cramp her style, so I headed out to buy a new player only to discover that nobody sells them anymore. This also happened to me when I needed a new answering machine a few months ago. Turns out that all new phones have them built in not to mention land line phones are on their way out as well.

So I bought her an MP3 player for her birthday instead, making my wife the last person in the family to own one. I showed her how it can be hooked into the amplifier to drive the living room speakers and our daughter loaded it with music, which she had long ago copied from our compact disc collection onto her computer.

Even so, my wife is hesitant to give up her CD player just yet. This will take time and patience.

Expect to see this smaller is better meme applied to the electrified cars arriving on the market (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all electric). Also expect to see it with housing. A 1,200 square foot passive townhouse loaded with solar hot water and photovoltaic panels is way cooler than a 3,000 square foot McMansion on a cul-de-sac.

Update: 10/7/2011

Just bought my wife a five CD player. She couldn't adjust to the new MP3 player. Oh well!

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