December 04, 2005
Who needs an iPod?

Disclaimer: I work for Disney and heard about this product at work.

Zoe and Mira, my daughters, had been talking about wanting iPods for a bit now. I really didn't want to do that. Mainly because of the issue that they'd need to run iTunes to manage feeding music into the iPods and dealing the syncing and other iTunes specific issues.

At work I saw a demo for Disney Mix Sticks, a new MP3 & WMA player that is hitting the shelves now. It's a basic mobile MP3 player with a few neat features.

Last weekend the girls and I picked up a pair at Target and they have been a big hit.

Like a Shuffle the Mix Sticks don't have a screen. The buttons are in a familiar Mickey shape and the headphone plug is on the bottom. The girls picked up on how to operate them quickly without any instruction from me.

They come with headphones and matching lanyards. Since they are Disney products the lanyards are special child-safe ones that break away to avoid the possibility of injury. Someone has got to think about these things...

The bottom cap comes off and you can see the USB connector. To charge the battery and transfer files, the Mix Stick simply plugs into a USB port. The Mix Stick appears as a standard disc drive. Open up the directory and drag in the files you want. There's some software that came with it, but I didn't even load that up. Simplicity is best.

I can plug these into any computer at home, open up the media share and drag in what ever music the girls want. No software, no syncing, no restrictions.

The innovative feature is the ability for the Mix Stick to take a SD or MMC flash memory card to expand up to 1 GB of storage. Disney is selling albums on MMC cards in DRMed WMA format for kids that want Disney music without having to rip CDs.

I took a spare MMC card I had and loaded a few MP3 files onto it and inserted it in the Mix Sticks. The songs played fine and the memory was expanded.

I did the math and was a little suprised. The Mix Sticks sell for $50 with 128MB of memory. A 512MB SD card costs between $25-$35.

Disney Mix Stick expanded to 640 MB = $75-$85 ($50 + ($25-$35) )
Apple iPod Shuffle 512MB = $99

So you get more memory for less money with the Mix Sticks. Who woulda thunk? Not to mention the idea that you could keep several flash memory cards and swap them in and out of the player as needed.

I don't have a Shuffle to compare size with, but here's how they compare to the new iPod.

Posted by michael at December 04, 2005 08:56 PM


Disney Mix Stick: 4.2'' H x 1.5'' W x .6'' D = 3.78 cu in.
Apple Shuffle: 3.3" H x .98" W x .33" D = 1.07 cu in.'

The mix stick is over 3 times larger than the Shuffle.

Posted by: Mister P. [] on December 4, 2005 10:34 PM

The mix stick is also over 4 times uglier than the iPod Shuffle.

Posted by: BillB [] on December 5, 2005 8:16 AM


Everyone gets that you can have the same functionality with other (cheaper) devices than the iPod. The issue is that some people (like yours truly) derive a goodly amount of pleasure from using a well-designed product which is simply intuitive and (frankly) pretty. Both Emma and Nate want Shuffles and I have considered the alternative (cheaper) products, but feel that I need to start them down the road toward being snobbish aesthetes before puberty hits...

Posted by: Ken [] on December 5, 2005 10:16 AM

I don't want to be too hard on Cruft... If he wants to save 20 bucks and force his daughters to drag around a couple pieces of luggage so they can listen to music, that's his right.

Posted by: Mister P. [] on December 5, 2005 10:38 AM

Seeing as how they're Mouse related they should be free, right?

Otherwise...they have visible screws? Oh Sweet Mary Mother of God they DO...they have freakin' VISIBLE SCREWS.

And a little window to see the memory card...

Must fight back the *gag* reflex...

Posted by: BillB [] on December 5, 2005 3:52 PM
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