One of our new experiences in London was a Bang & Olufsen store. I’d never been in one, but as a card-carrying audiophile I was required to enter as soon as I saw it. The door opened into a hushed demo space, thickly carpeted in 1000-euro bills. Every display item gleamed, and sounded or looked glorious. I wanted the boom box, which fits iPods and iPads and cost a mere £995 (about $1500).
But the most interesting thing in there was a machine called the BeoSound 5, which acted like a dedicated iTunes unit in one’s listening room. It used one of two smooth-moving metal dials to scroll through the electronic music library (which had been previously ripped into the unit at full digital capacity), viewing by artist or album or songs. I was having loads of fun playing with the dials and figuring out how it worked, and playing snippets from this album and that, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to play a specific song on an album rather than starting at the beginning. And as I was trying, the sleek, gorgeous display suddenly blacked out and in monochrome green pixelated letters it said:
MICROSOFT WINDOWS ERROR
(error code gobbledygook)
How on Earth could they make such a sleek, beautiful, expensive piece of machinery, which is oh-so-clearly modeled on the Apple iTunes concept, and then slap a Windows base on it? That’s like building a Ferrari and putting a Kia Sportage engine inside.
The clerk came over and fussed with it, then fussed some more. The first reboot didn’t take. Then he fussed with connections and wiring, and rebooted again, and finally it came back to life, having been blacked out for a good fifteen minutes. Talk about a sales killer — even if I had the cash, I’d never buy that thing. My audiophile-biased opinion of Bang & Olufsen had crashed along with their crappy Windows-based music controller.
Back to my laptop, iTunes, and little desktop JBL speakers…