November 21, 2006
I have a great deal of respect for Apple's iPod juggernaut. They've almost single-handedly legitimized the market for downloadable music. The kind you pay for. The kind that, at least in theory, supports the artists who produce the music instead of ripping them off.
That said, I have some problems with the iPod.
- The iPod is boring. How can I properly rage against the machine with the same standard, factory issue music players that everyone else has? I don't want this to devolve into a knee-jerk rejection of all iThings, but let's be honest here: when every soccer Mom carries an iPod, it's no longer a cool technical accessory. It's completely mainstream. I'd be lying if I said this didn't matter to me.
- The iPod has no support for subscription services. I'm a member of Yahoo Music Unlimited, which gives me unlimited access to a massive library of music for 6 bucks a month. I can stream any of this music to multiple PCs, or I can download it to my hard drive or mobile audio players. And it's in a very respectable 192kbps 2-pass CBR format, too. For that same six bucks a month, I could buy a whopping six tracks from the iTunes store. While I can certainly understand the desire to own music, why not give us a choice? Apple's insistence on purchase-only models is a huge mistake.
- The iPod does not support WMA. Although Jobs grudgingly made the iPod Windows compatible two years after its introduction, he still gets his jabs in. The conspicuous lack of WMA support is a not-so-subtle f*ck you to the Windows community. And what of OGG? Or FLAC? Clearly, the hardware is capable, but the political forces inside Apple won't allow it. You'd figure a company that had the guts to make a stunning, wholesale switch to x86 processors could deign to support a few alternative audio formats on their music players. But no.
- The iPod lacks features. I'll never understand why the iPod chooses to deliberately ignore FM radio and its rich history in the music industry. Heck, you might even want to record FM radio. That's just crazy talk! And the list goes on: there's no voice recording, no EQ settings, no gapless playback, etcetera.
- The iPod requires custom software to work. Every music player on the market should have this down to a science by now:
- plug in the USB cable
- drag and drop your music on the device
- disconnect the cable and ROCK
The iPod fails miserably on this count: it requires iTunes installed (or another custom application) to transfer any music to the device. You can't even use it as an external hard drive without setting up a separate, special partition on the device first. Of course, use iTunes if you want, but you shouldn't be forced to use iTunes because the hardware is a brick if you don't. How did Apple get this so very, very wrong?
Now, your goals may not be my goals. But when my wife wanted a new music player to replace her aging Rio Carbon (RIP-- a great little player for its time), these are the criteria I used to evaluate them.
Unfortunately, music devices that can be used seamlessly and interchangeably as a generic external USB hard drive and digital music player are quite rare. The sole exception, at least for hard-disk devices, is the Cowon X5L. The Cowon is a decent player, but it suffers from Soviet Russia-era design aesthetics. Due to lack of choices, I was forced to compromise on devices that support Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol. When connected to a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine, MTP support allows you to drag and drop music directly on to the device-- without installing any software. It's not ideal, since it's tied to Microsoft, but it's the best I can do.
The Digital Audio Players Review website had the most helpful advice. Their top pick was the
Creative Zen Vision:M. I agreed, so I went with the pink one. You know, for the ladies.
It's a great little device, and as promised, we just dragged and dropped our music on it-- which happens to be a mix of MP3 and WMA files. And it worked with our Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription as well.
To complement the 30gb hard drive player, I also picked up a flash device-- the new, larger 4gb iRiver Clix.
I've owned a few iRiver products in the past and they've always been excellent. dapreview gave the Clix high marks, and so has everyone else who has reviewed it. The feature set is great. It meets every one of my criteria, throws in video support, and even goes a little beyond with support for Flash Lite games.
I respect the way the pioneering iPod has collectively led the industry out of the dark Napster ages. And I like the iPod design. But until Apple at least supports subscription services and the WMA/FLAC/OGG file formats, I can't justify purchasing any iPod hardware.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
“1. The iPod is boring. How can I properly rage against the machine with the same standard, factory issue music players that everyone else has?”
Well, you do have your choice of colors: white or black for the regular iPod; silver, black, blue, green, pink, or red for the iPod nano. Only the iPod shuffle still comes in only one color, but it's so inconspicuous (a tie-clip that plays music is my description of it) that colors would only be distracting.
“2. … Apple's insistence on purchase-only models is a huge mistake.”
Not so much. The iPod drives the iTunes store, and the iTunes store drives the iPod. It's a closed model for a reason, and it works. Remember that Apple is a company that exists to make a profit; they are doing very well at this with their current system. :)
“The iPod lacks features. I'll never understand why the iPod chooses to deliberately ignore FM radio and its rich history in the music industry.”
You can buy the FM radio attachment. (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore?productLearnMore=MA070G/A)
“… And the list goes on: there's no voice recording,”
Yes there is. (Belkin attachment that Apple itself promoted heavily when it came out.)
“no EQ settings,
Yes there are. (No customization, but there are a lot of presets.)
“no gapless playback, …”
Yes there is. (New with iTunes 7.)
“5. …You can't even use it as an external hard drive without setting up a seperate, special partition on the device first.”
Yes you can. (On my Mac, anyway. Windows I don't know about.)
If Apple let you play WMA, how could they stop you buying online music from somewhere other than iTunes?
"You can't even use it as an external hard drive without setting up a seperate, special partition on the device first."
Um, you can. It's not a seperate partition, but it DOES hide the files (MP3's and metadata, that is). Oh, and I'm talk NANO, not "full" ipod.
Of course, SERIOUSLY, how hard is it to find "hidden" (attribute) windows file? Come on.... all the meta info is XML...
There is other IPOD software out there, BTW. You dont HAVE to use itunes.
All the devices I've had which do cable+drag+drop+rockon! have had SUCH bad UI's, as to be unusable.
So, each to their own. I love my nano, and woudl get another one if it broke, but I woudl consider a Zen, I think. That said, it's working just fine :)
for other iPod software: yamipod is pretty good. And you can keep it installed *on* your iPod, so you can hook it up to any computer.
What I want now is a player with wifi / last.fm support.
I supposed that just means what I want is XM.
Oh yeah, I've been able to use my ipod as an external hard drive on Windows boxes that don't have iTunes installed. (Although I'm pretty sure I wasn't able to do that when I first got it three years ago)
On the Creative Zen:M, don't bother getting it. I just got threw with my second one, and both of them bricked with that Black screen of death. Other than that, it was great.
You've summed up all my opinions of the ipod. But the real deal breaker was the the itunes download for me.I got a MicroPhoto from creative and it just works...I'm really glad I got it...a lot more features.
I always figured the iTunes software was part of the iPod's success, not an obstacle. Dragging dropping files to try to keep the device synced is not fun, especially when you start having smart playlists, podcasts and other dynamic sort of things.
The iTunes lock-in and the inability to play audio in other standard formats are the biggest reasons I have avoided the iPod.
I do understand your concern with the Cowon iAudio X5. I've been using an X5 for several months and I love it, but it does have its own disadvantages: it takes a while to get used to the stick control; getting out of FM radio and audio recording mode isn't dead obvious; the FM receiver isn't good with weak signals, although I suppose this is expected with no external antenna; it disconnects from the USB bus when Windows XP goes to sleep and requires undocking/redocking to get it to connect again.
I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, though. My X5 has been rock-solid reliable since I purchased it several months ago, even with extended play time on a daily basis. As you so gracefully allude, the greatest feature of the X5 is that is is a plug-and-play USB drive so no special synchronization software is required. I use SyncToy to keep my X5 synchronized with audio, documents, and miscellaneous other files. I usually keep my X5 docked and use Media Player to play the music from the drive. I have used it extensively in airports and planes with Sennheiser HD280 headphones.
FM radio and microphone are built in, so no special hardware is needed to record conferences. One feature that surprised me is that it uses Media Player play lists. I discovered this by accident when I accidentally copied a play list to the drive, then noticed I had a new play list in the menu.
"The iPod lacks features"
Check out Rockbox (http://www.rockbox.org/)
and IpodLinux (http://www.ipodlinux.org)
to really take advantage of iPod's capabilities. These are 2 really cool open source firmware's, which can be installed along side the Mac firmware. Neither worked very well on my older iPod, a 3G, but it looks like the newer ones are fairing better, as well as more support/features.
It's all about the software ;).
To make an iPod an usable MP3 player you need the Rockbox firmware (www.rockbox.org).
Rockbox is an open source replacement firmware for mp3 players. It runs on a number of different models:
* Apple: iPod 4th gen (grayscale and color), 5th gen (Video), 1st gen Nano and Mini 1st/2nd gen (Nano 2nd gen and Video 5.5th gen are not supported)
* iAudio: X5 (including X5V and X5L)
* Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio
* iriver: H100, H300 and H10 series
Some of the many many features :
* Just copy files and go
* Support for over 10 Sound Codecs, including OGG and FLAC
* 5-band fully-parametric equalizer, and crossfeed
* JPEG image and text-file viewing
* Make playlists without a computer
I've been using it on my Archos Recorder for more than 2 years !
Oh and btw, Archos makes some great audio/video players : www.archos.com
It's a closed model for a reason
Fine. I have no problem with closed. Why can't it be a closed SUBSCRIPTION model, too? (insert sound of crickets chirping here)
You can buy the FM radio attachment
This is hardly the point. Basic features like FM radio should be INCLUDED and not aftermarket third-party add-ons.
one word. zune.
Zune can't be used as a MTP device; it's software lock-in, just like the iPod. And I'm bitter enough about the shoulda-been-cool-but-instead-is-completely useless WiFi support to not want it at all. I do like the form factor and UI though.
That alternative www.rockbox.org firmware looks great, but unfortunately no support for WMA. :(
Hmm, looks like I spoke too soon. The Zune can be used as a MTP device according to this *fantastic* 3-way hard-drive audio player comparison between the iPod, Zune, and Zen:Vision M.
I don't really understand your desire to drag and drop files. I'd rather:
Plug in the USB cable
Disconnect the USB cable and rock
Call me lazy but I don't want to have to *manage* my music library.
On your other complaints about the iPod/iTunes (1,2,3,4), you make a convincing case. I think with your requirements in the last paragraph, you've rightly assessed that the iPod and iTunes is not for you.
But point 5 ("requires custom software") lacks your usual clarity. Don't you want to manage your music at a higher level of abstraction than files and folders? Even you agree, as shown in "Trees, TreeViews, and UI" ( http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000246.html ):
"I've aggressively adopted the label approach, because it's so much more reflective of the fluid way things are organized in the real world. Programmers may love rigidity-- to each item its appropriate folder and meticulously named class hierarchy-- but users prefer simple, flat lists. "
Could it be perhaps we are still stuck with the filesystem concept? I beleive you were talking about the length of an absolute path file name on Windows last week (excellent article, BTW).
This is what the iTunes application does. It provides more functionality that the filesystem. It has static (ID3 tags) and dynamic (your rating, play time, play count, playlist, playlist membership, etc) attributes. It can display arbitrary selections using those attributes into simple lists (Smart Playlists). It can automatically sync music and video based on those attributes. You can data-mine your own usage because the iPod records usage data.
With that I don't see how iTunes can be compared to your 3 step drag and drop. Like James Randall said:
1. Plug in the USB cable
2. Disconnect the USB cable and rock
3. (There is no step 3, even on a Windows!)
Then again it seems like you don't require that type of usage.
With that said, iTunes is like the running back that stopped on the 50 yard line. So many programmatic things left untouched (no programmatic way to create SmartPlaylists, SmartPlaylists query language is 70% good enough, etc), so many implemenation flaws (auto-syncing only occurs on insertion and does not auto-sync new music added while iPod is connected, heavy CPU load, etc), and strategic design decisions like no WMA/OGG, iTunes store.
Oh and please correct the external hard drive comment. You obviously need to update your info on that.
I have to say that I totally agree with your article Jeff, you're spot on. I'm a bit of a gadget freak (as much as my finances allow) and when I came to get an mp3 player, I quickly realised an ipod wasn't the way forward.
I've now got a 512MB Packard Bell AudioKey player, its a USB flash disk with a few buttons, a little screen, and a headphone socket. It wasn't expensive, and the multicoloured changing backlight is just a nice touch and not the reason I bought the thing in the first place ... honest :)
I mostly listen to podcasts, or mp3s of CDs that I own, and I change the contents of the player often (as its a small capacity). Since it gets docked to both windows and linux boxes, the very simple interface and ability to file manage is perfect for me.
Their top pick was the Creative Zen Vision:M. I
Too bad Creative are such weasels. My Nano failed irreparably w/in 6 months, boo-hoo. And Creative is in my experience the most weasely about rebates of any otherwise legitimate company. ("Sorry, you didn't include the UPC, do you happen to still have it 12 weeks later?" Pure BS.)
Apparently I'm in the minority in favor of an FM radio. Aside from being a radio junkie, it's also useful at the gym for tuning in TV.
And! I like USB drag-and-drop. Oh, well ...
6. "The iPod requires custom software to work" That's a feature, not a bug. Dragging files to the player is a crap interface for 99% of all users out there.
I think that you meant that Dragging files to the player is a crap interface for 99% of all iPod users out there... there is a difference, it's also very bad to quote random statistics to support a bad argument...
Dude, you usually sound pretty damn smart, but this story is full of wrongs. It's allright if you don't like the iPod, really it is. But it hurts your credibility to openly dislike a device for reasons that are simply not true.
That said, it was an enjoyable read as allways. But the next time my iPod fails for whatever reason, i'll go back to minidisc before considering a different kind of mp3 player.
By the way, as far as i'm concerned; I allways recommend people who rip wma's to shoot themselves in the face. That way, all the pain and trouble of using the worst audio file format I've ever come across will suddenly fade...
Oh how I wish a decent MP3 had AM radio. I need my sports and talk radio.
I'm loving all the Apple apologists here, BTW. Hilarious.
I'm the very proud and very happy owner of a Creative Zen V. Very small, very powerful, synchronizable through Winamp's Media Library among others (I have to try it with MediaMonkey). And really cool: contrary to their belief, good design is not an Apple's monopoly.
I'm a recent convert to media libraries, prior to that I managed by 16K+ song collection through Windows Explorer. Tried iTunes once, never again: I don't like it messing with my folder structure. MediaMonkey, on the other hand, allows me to tweak the MP3 tags, and rename files and even folders, but when *I* want it to. So now I'm in the middle of the really boring job of tagging everything correctly.
Rossen -- thanks for the Archos tip! Some very cool stuff and it appeals to my "fight the popular trend" personality, or is is personalities...I forget
because my audio library doesn't change very much over time.
I buy at least an album a week. A pretty different usage pattern :)
Kris - What reasons are untrue? And at least he provides reasons. lol
Well put. Ignore the Mac fanboys who go into denial and spin-harassment mode.
The conspicuous lack of WMA support is a not-so-subtle f*ck you to the Windows community.
But WMA is a not-so-subtle f*ck you to the non-Windows community. As well as many other things out of Redmond.
However lack of OGG is why I don't consider buying an iPod.
How do you reconcile point 2 with point 5? If you have a subscription service, they aren't going to just let you drag and drop their songs wherever you want.
Judging by the number of comments it would seemed you touched a sore spot.
I lean more to the non-iPod camp. I think the click wheel is pretty slick but other then that I'm not impressed with alot of the design aspects that you mentioned.
I have an old RCA Lyra and to me that thing rocks (except that it only holds 128M, told ya it was old). being able to drop almost any format (haven't tried OOG or AAC) on it via windows explorer or with a bash script makes reloading music a snap. Hardware aside I find that Itunes software to be the slowest, most annoying software ever. let it be said that I have used alot of slow annoying software, some of which I wrote.
The Ipod would seriously have to drop in price for me to want to get one. I stick to brands that aren't so restrictive.
I agree with most points as well, I have heard horror stories about people I know trying to get their ipods to synch using iTunes and having problems. Then when they call apple for help the get one free support call, if you want any help after that you have to pay for it.
Anyone else see the potential for the zune though?
All you need is a hacked OS loaded on there and you can share your files over wireless to other zunes.
They're giving you a wireless router, you can detect and connect to other wireless devices. Am I the only one that thinks that's cool?
There's a lot more possibilities than just trading music ;)
I had high hopes for Zune... but MS let me down, no surprise there.
I haven't had an mp3 player since my ipod was stolen in the summer. I made a promise to myself that the next player wont be an iPod.
Sadly, there's no alternative so far that's at least close to iPod in overall experience... even more sad, it's really not hard, i guess manufacturers just have no desire to compete with ipod. That's the only explanation I can think of considering the slew of meritocracy and pure shit mp3 players out there.
MS could've done it if really put their shit together and maybe found somebody who actually understands the product and market.
Use Linux. It should be plenty easy to upload files, and convert them to MP3's (think LAME). Support for subscription services requires Wi-Fi or another Internet connection - not really something you always have on the go. It also need hardware and that makes the device heavier. And FM is usually terrible quality without antennas.
Yeah that's what I'm thinking zune linux, with wifi support.
Not just useful as a music player since you can detect other wireless devices, opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
The hardware base just needs to have the limited OS removed and it's much better.
Clearly I'm in the lunatic fringe minority myself -- I actually care about audio *quality*. The Ipod actually has a pretty nice DAC, but the file formats the Apple firmware supports all suck. So does WMA.
The apple zealots can rant all they like, but (to pull my own statistic out of my ass) 99% of them don't care about sound quality since they use those fashionable, but execrable, stock earbuds.
Most of my music is ripped to FLAC, which requires a hard drive player to store and decent headphones to appreciate. The Ipod hardware is certainly good enough, but the stock firmware most definitely is not.
Kris - What reasons are untrue? And at least he provides reasons. lol
Hey man, read the posts above! Several of the points are wrong. It has EQ, gapless playback and it can be used as a USB storage device, for example.
But really, we didn't buy an iPod to use it as a USB storage device, we bought it to use with iTune!
Btw, I own a samsung MP3 player and XP's MTP ( Media Transfer Protocol) is truely evil!
With Windows Media installed I in fact CANNOT use the device as a USB drive, as Windows will warn me if I copy files that are not in supported formats, and that I should use Windows Media to convert them.
If MTP is disabled, or I plug the Samsung in my iBook, I can use it as a USB drive without being _locked_in_ by Microsoft.
With either media player, anyway, like most people I am not managing a file system. it's either iTune or Windows media that automatically syncs the device.
I guess the killer thing for many people is the accessory range for the iPod. For example, for my car (a Toyota Corolla), I can get a box which will allow the factory fit CD player to control an iPod as if it were a massive CD changer. I haven't seen such a useful feature for any other player.
I just got a Zen Vision:M on Monday and I love it! Way better then ipod, if only for the fact that you don't have to use that dumb/bloated/ugly/slow itunes. the screen is MUCH better to, my g/f has a video ipod and my zen just blows it away.
"Not so much. The iPod drives the iTunes store, and the iTunes store drives the iPod. It's a closed model for a reason, and it works. Remember that Apple is a company that exists to make a profit; they are doing very well at this with their current system. :)"
The idea is that it could do better by offering a subscription service. I have several iTunes users in my family, they all agreed that they'd much rather pay a flat fee for unlimited tracks.
This whole ownership debate over buying / renting is misplaced. You don't own anything when you buy it from the music store. It's a locked down DRM'd track either way. At least with a subscription you could download the track again if you lose it. :-P
Apple is stubborn.
There has never, and will never be any alternative to the iPod. Shame on you!
I recently bought and then returned a second-generation iPod Shuffle. I liked the player, but I couldn't get iTunes to talk to the thing. And my experience with Apple support demonstrated that Apple actually hates me. I replaced it with a Creative Muvo V100, which I'm finding a little disappointing.
And I think the reason is a curious one; it tries to do too many things, and ends up doing many of them rather poorly.
The iPod didn't do so many things, but it did what it did exceptionally well. It didn't bother me that the iPod Shuffle couldn't work with a playlist, for example. Yet the Muvo's clumsy, folder-based almost-playlists scheme is frustrating, even though it can produce results that could not be emulated in any way on the iPod.
No Apple fanboi, I, but I think there is underappreciated virtue in simplicity.
lack of fm is a killer .... i buy music , but not before I've heard enough to like it ... this feature alone (or lack of it) is an iPod killer for me ... great interface , great looking gadget , great store to buy music from , but ignoring normal listing patterns ? hmmm .... don't call us we'll get back to you.
I'm actually leaning towards picking up one of the Neuros Audio players (the DAC, not their set-top boxes). It supports OGG, has open firmware, integrated FM support, and comes with all the necessary car adapters. Have any of you played with one?
“This is hardly the point. Basic features like FM radio should be INCLUDED and not aftermarket third-party add-ons.”
I'm not so sure about that. It should be included if everybody (or nearly everybody) who wants an iPod wants a radio; clearly Apple has only seen enough demand for an add-on, not building it into the iPod. Either that or they're working on it.
“[The statement that using the Finder to manage music is bad] is quite ironic coming from Apple users who constantly remind us how great it is to "install" applications by dragging and dropping them rather than running setup.exe installers. So which is it? Easier? Harder?”
Different issue. You only ever drag one or more applications to one folder; very few people (I'm one) divide their Applications folder into subfolders. For most people, a flat list works just fine here, because they just don't have enough applications installed for subfolders to be worth it. And rarely does somebody install more than one application at a time, and it's never more than a few.
Music is different. I have over a thousand songs on my iPod, and my library is small compared to those of others I know. That's not something that can be easily navigated with a flat list, so subfolders (categories, artist/album hierarchy, etc.) are required here.
But that leads to the issue of putting multiple things on the iPod. If you're only putting one album at a time on it, that's easy, but the initial fill and any subsequent large fills must be done a few songs or an album at a time. That will take awhile to do manually.
With iTunes, you drag all the songs to your Library or iPod (in the iTunes window), and it adds all the songs to the flat list and also to any Smart Playlists, automagically. And navigation into artist and then album can be done without any Smart Playlists, using the Browse view (which is mostly the same as the iPod's Music submenu). No matter which way you want to view your music — as a flat list or a hierarchy — iTunes lets you have it, and adding music is easy either way.
What's the argument against iTunes, other than “It's not the Finder/Windows Explorer”?
"My wife would never use a drag'n'drop player"
Drag'n'drop isn't a limitation, it is a liberation. Drag'n'drop is one way of doing it, but if it's available as a regular fs any app can put music on it very easily. No need to reverse engineer a database in order to make the player compatible with your favourite media player. This leads to a much wider, much richer variety of applications to manage the audio on your device that works with lots of other devices.
Drag'n'drop does not mean you can't have good integration with your media player. Indeed, it means you can have good integration with many media players.
Back when I had a media player that worked like a regular fs I wrote a small app that fitted my routine. Plug it in a weekday morning, it filled it with one style of music. Plug it in the evening, it fills it with the latest comedy podcasts, or failing that sleeping music. It looked at what time it was, and only filled it up with a certain length of music (i.e. that time until 2am) so that if I accidently fell asleep it wouldn't keep playing and run down the battery (which, btw, I could actualy replace with another rechargable battery, so the effective battery life without proximity of a computer was far longer) I wouldn't even attempt doing that with my iPod.
Exactly, at least i went through the "trouble" to read all other posts before putting my own crap on here ;-)
No need to reiterate what everyone should already know right?
WOW. That is the largest collection of incorrect "facts" about the iPod I've ever seen!
1. "The iPod does not support WMA". No, it does not. You know why? Because WMA (protected WMA) is not supported on the platforms the iPod supports (read: OS X). Come back to me when Microsoft supports WMA music stores on anything besides Windows. Why not support non-protected WMA? Because licensing fees would need to be paid to Microsoft, for one, because it would buy nothing for anyone who wasn't foolish enough to rip into WMA in the first place, and because it would then cause additional confusion (why isn't this wma file working? Oh, it's protected ...)
2. "I'll never understand why the iPod chooses to deliberately ignore FM radio" I'll never understand why people care about FM anymore. It's bland and boring where I live, and I see no reason to pay for an FM tuner in my iPod, especially when the two locations where I am most likely to listen to it (home and in the car) have far superior FM antennae and tuners for use. BUT, if I DID want to pay for it, there are several FM tuners for the iPod. They hook right on and allow tuning using the iPod interface for the most part.
3. "there's no voice recording" Again, for the handful of people who want voice recording in an MP3 player, there's a wide enough selection of cheap voice recorder attachments. I've got one of these myself, although I rarely use it because ... well, there's just not all that much I need to record. But, when I need it, it's right there ready to go.
4. "no EQ settings" Um, here you start going into the pure BS category. iPod has had EQ presets forever.
5. "no gapless playback" Again, BS, although at least this is a recent addition (5G iPods and iTunes 7).
6. "The iPod requires custom software to work" That's a feature, not a bug. Dragging files to the player is a crap interface for 99% of all users out there. I'm sorry using an application designed to manage music is an affront to you instead of using a general-purpose file manager for everything. But, Apple wisely chose to piss off the 1% of close-minded geeks in favor of bringing incredible ease of use to the rest of the population. Quite simply: my wife and kids all use iTunes to manage music without a problem, while the file-transfer based device they had before the iPod got music loaded on it twice, and never got updated again.
7. "You can't even use it as an external hard drive without setting up a separate, special partition on the device first" I don't know what the hell you're smoking here, but every iPod I've used (granted, I didn't use the original Windows iPod, which I do believe had some funky partitioning scheme) came from the factory with one partition, which holds music files in a hidden folder and is ready for use as an external hard drive out of the box.
As for supporting FLAC and OGG: yeah, that would be nice, although I certainly don't see it as a killer omission for me or mine. But is it really enough to determine which MP3 player you purchase, given the myriad of other differences?
I'm still using my Creative Nomad II.
Although Apple is exemplary of how proprietary software is done right, the iPod is an uncomfortable and expensive silo for me.
If only there were a viable alternative for me on Mac. My 3G iPod is getting cranky.
Bastards at Creative didn't churn out a Mac interface :P
Don't you want to manage your music at a higher level of abstraction than files and folders?
Sure. But realize that all modern audio players ignore file structures in favor of the ID3 tags (metadata) in the files. That's why I went through this:
The file structure is A) very flat and B) largely irrelevant. You can synthesize any file structure you want based on the audio metadata, anyway, using a tool like Media Monkey (which rocks, btw).
Call me lazy but I don't want to have to *manage* my music library
Then use whatever sync software you want. And a well designed DAP gives you the option to use whatever you like. I like to do the Simplest Thing That Works, and in this case, it's drag and drop, because my audio library doesn't change very much over time.
I own the Iriver U10 1G which is basically the same as the Clix. I love it and i would never ever buy an Ipod for the simple reason that I don't like the hype.
sorry using an application designed to manage music is an affront to you instead of using a general-purpose file manager for everything
This is quite ironic coming from Apple users who constantly remind us how great it is to "install" applications by dragging and dropping them rather than running setup.exe installers. So which is it? Easier? Harder? Or It Depends?
Most OS X applications use a "package" design to let users easily install an application. Application packages are essentially folders that contain all necessary files for the application to run; however, they appear as single files to the user. The advantage to this is that a packaged application can simply be "drag-installed" - the installation process merely involves dragging the application package to your Applications folder. Uninstallation, therefore, is essentially the same process in reverse - drag the application package to the Trash, and empty it. Since packages are self-contained, all the files related to the application are removed.
Y'all are missing the point. For me two primary features of an audio player are ease of use and portability. Therefore hard drive based players are automatically excluded from consideration. Guess what, a year from now we'll have 16GB nanos and 4GB iPhones for $250. Personally, I don't see a reason to own anything larger than 4GB 1st gen nano that I already have. It has a couple of days of music on it, and that about covers my needs. Try as I might, I can not fill it to full capacity - there's just not enough music that I'd want to listen to every day. And I much prefer buying physical CDs and then ripping them onto my nano. I'd bet most other people either do the same or use bittorrent.
Portability is where it's at right now. When I go to the gym, I don't want a freakin' brick in my pocket. If you look at the dimensions in that lengthy comparison, you will see that iPod beats anything else in terms of portability (and nano beats anything else in its class, and shuffle beats anything else in its class). This is why Apple stock closed above $90 today.
Although I do agree with Jeff on the need for FM radio. That's the only feature that I think is missing in nano. I want portability, dammit. Build in the freakin' radio.
"1. "The iPod does not support WMA". No, it does not. You know why?..."
It also does not support other very common formats like ogg. All my music is ogg, and I've not been able to find a format that iTunes supports that will compress my music at a low enough disk space at the same quality as ogg. Now that may be me missing something, if someone knows how, please tell me. But still, the lack of ogg support, amongst others, is terrible. Stop picking on the specific example and realise it should support other formats.
"2. "I'll never understand why the iPod chooses to deliberately ignore FM radio" I'll never understand why people care about FM anymore."
A personal opinion that many disagree with. Not a falsity.
"4. "no EQ settings" Um, here you start going into the pure BS category. iPod has had EQ presets forever."
Pre-sets, not settings.
"6. "The iPod requires custom software to work" That's a feature, not a bug."
Call me crazy, but I don't use iTunes as my media player. Again, because all my music is ogg (and again, if you can find me the right settings for another format I will happily use iTunes). And there are other people who don't use iTunes for a variety of reasons. Or many of the other plugins/apps that are for use with iTunes (none of which are easy to set up in my experience, though I may have missed one). This forces us to manage two music libraries. Our normal media player, AND iTunes/custom app. If the database management was moved from the software to the firmware (and I could be talking out of my arse here, apologies), we could have our drag and drop support (as well easier plugin support for other media players) AND the excellent interface iTunes provides.
You say, the 4gb iRiver Clix meets your criteria. But for their website I read, it comes with an installation CD and needs, WinXP SP1 or higher and Media Player 10 or higher.
What about problem 5?
iriver has a new MP3 player out - the S10. It's really small and nice!!! Nicer than an ipod shuffle.
Scroll down and look at how tiny the S10 is!
Do a review on this! =o) I'm gonna get one... hehehe
I have a 30gig Creative Zen Vision:M, it currently has over 50 movies and around 500 MP3's on it and I still have mucho room to use as jump drive, or for more crap. I love my Zen, even with a $150-$300 price tag.
Thanks for the links in the article, I was reading one of them and found out there is a new version of the Rio Carbon software that added a capability I wanted.
Count me as another who will require that any future player I get has to suppost folder drag and drop. I don't use my computer as my major music source I use my computer to feed stuff to my player.
It is far easier to drag a folder with the album(s) I want on the player and have them there then go through some software and flag the file(s) for synconization.
Then when I want it off the player, just right click and delete.
No addition skills or learning some other software just to take control of the music and audio books I listen to.
Finally just because you don't want a feature does not make it a lie when someone else requests it. Also when discussion feature of a product few consider adds ones as being part of the product or not mentioning them misrepresenting the facts about the product; if that was the case I could claim my $15 flash pen comes with a 25-inch display since I can plug that into the ad-on of a computer which is connect to an ad-on TV and anything on that flash pen can be displayed on that TV.
Today's Woot: Archos Gmini 402 20GB Camcorder/Personal Media Player for $150.
In response to point 5:
First an example of lock in : Microsoft said to Samsung that in order to be MTP compliant, a device cannot support OGG Vorbis in the US. So Samsung had to pull that feature off the firmware of their US device. If you download an international version of the firmware, ogg is supported.
Compared to iTune, the only reason why you don't need to install software to access your MP3 player with it is that it's installed with Windows Media!!
I can see this is a great topic, freaky long thread already.
Further up there's a link to th eiRiver S10, that thingy looks absolutely great.
Just for the record and my own peace of mind, even though i'm kindof your typical Apple user, owning a whole bunch of their computers and even dedicating most of my spare time to writing software specifically for them. I Don't think the iPod is perfect by far...
I seriously detest Apple for taking away firewire support on the newer models, the person that made that decision should definately be taken outside to be shot. iTunes, once a great app to have in the background on my 450Mhz cube while coding, never got in the way, but they bloated it bigtime with version 7
Apple is just as bad as Microsoft and equally evil as well. There's some really insanely great stuff coming from Cupertino for sure and the same can be said about Redmond (did anybody ever realize the amount of sheer genius put into .NET?)
Bottom line is; the iPod suits my fancy good enough. That's obviously no guarantuee it will for anybody else. And though it kinda annoys me to great extends to see every second person on the streets wearing white earplugs, that will not keep me from wearing mine. Not until i find the sony plugs that came with one of my minidisc players anyways.
Oh and P.S. the iPod really should support FLAC and probably OGG as well.
Okay, please disregard that last post, reading it back i suddenly realize i should've been in bed about 36hours ago.
"6. "The iPod requires custom software to work" That's a feature, not a bug. Dragging files to the player is a crap interface for 99% of all users out there.
I think that you meant that Dragging files to the player is a crap interface for 99% of all iPod users out there... there is a difference, it's also very bad to quote random statistics to support a bad argument..."
First, 99% of the time you see a statistic of "99%" or "90%" it was made up on the spot. It's common knowledge and anyone suspecting that "99%" came from a careful scientific study of the matter needs mental assistance.
In any case, I'm missing your point. Drag-and-drop, in my experience, is a crap interface that leads to people just not using a device. As I said in the part you chose not to include, this comes from personal experience with players prior to owning an iPod.
So, is it just a crap interface for those who own iPods? Maybe, but you're confusing cause and effect there!
""2. "I'll never understand why the iPod chooses to deliberately ignore FM radio" I'll never understand why people care about FM anymore."
A personal opinion that many disagree with. Not a falsity.
"4. "no EQ settings" Um, here you start going into the pure BS category. iPod has had EQ presets forever."
Pre-sets, not settings."
On the first count: the falsity was pointed out right after you stopped quoting. FM radio is available for those who want it as a cheap add-on.
On the second count: "pre-sets" are "settings". If "settings" is denoting something else, perhaps you should specify: a 3-band graphical equalizer with three levels per band, a 5-band GEQ with 5 levels per band, or a 20-band GEQ with over 100 levels per band? Which exactly is needed to qualify as "settings"?
Again, it's a question of usability for the non-techno-geek versus featuritis. I personally see no need for more control of equalizer settings, but I'm far from an audiophile. That having been said, it's hard to imagine an audiophile being satisfied with pretty much *any* MP3 player out there!
"It also does not support other very common formats like ogg. All my music is ogg, and I've not been able to find a format that iTunes supports that will compress my music at a low enough disk space at the same quality as ogg. Now that may be me missing something, if someone knows how, please tell me. But still, the lack of ogg support, amongst others, is terrible. Stop picking on the specific example and realise it should support other formats."
I already said this in my original post, but to repeat: I agree that iPod should support Ogg and Flac. Not something I'd qualify my purchasing decision on, as I said, but definitely a silly omission (unlike, say, WMA and FM and multi-band GEQ).
It's just ridicolous to read some of the comments here, Jeff is correct on all points but apparently everything Apple creates is just great even through there are clearly players that are way better at everything.
The Apple fans should ask themselfs why they keep getting fooled by this company, buying overpriced players, buying overpriced computers.
I just don't get it but I guess that's what branding is all about, making people feel like they bought the greatest thing on the planet even though it clearly isn't.
The rabiat comments from some people here just proves that they deep down know they have been fooled.
"It's true that a filesystem-style player can have many varied apps written for it with lots of choices and configurations and no take-it-or-leave-it standard. That's precisely what kills it for many users."
Why does having the option of variety stop them from shipping good software with the device? You could have a billion and one other programs to put music on your ipod. I could write my own. And most people could use iTunes. There are many OS's you can install on your PC. What do most people use? Windows. You can install many different Office suites, but what do most people use? MSOffice. Are they complaining about all the alternatives?
The hold of Apple's iPod is akin to the hold of Microsoft Windows. At some point in time it was the best or only thing out there and people started to use it. And by-golly we simply DO NOT LIKE CHANGE apparently. And why should you get an iPod, well because everyone else has one of course!!!
You have a choice, some people simply choose not to choose.
I WON an iPod (4GB) before Christmas last year from Paper-Mate. For free, it was great. Once it was stolen, and I decided I was going to replace it (paying for it with MY money), I decided I did NOT want an iPod. After checking out everything that was available, both online and in the stores, I made a decision. I bought the Creative Zen Vision-M. I utilize my contacts and hard drive in there, have about 800+ of my favorite songs now, and I continue to add/change my music (EASILY!), set up the radio, and more. The Zen Vision-M rocks! I have that pretty pink one at the top of the page. Creative Zen Vision-M is #1 in my book!
It's completely mainstream. I'd be lying if I said this didn't matter to me.
I agree, thats why I have been a happy owner of a Cowon X5 since May. It has everything you mentioned above + video support.
The iPod has a better external interface, but the forced controls over music organization/songs/HD usage made me stay away. I'll give up some external shine for some internal freedom and power.
And to all the nano + flash player users: Why would you want to carry so little music? It would be painful to me if I had to switch out files nightly/weekly. I prefer to just have it all. 3200+ songs and counting.
my minidisk player still hasn't been beat by the ipod and i have an optical and an 1/8 inch stereo input for recording oh yeah and fm/am/tv I like the way everyone defended their ipod with an "attachment" or some other seperate option as a quick fix and is plugs into either mac or pc with any program [i choose realplayer] i also find it assinine that someone knocks fm by relating it locationally to their area "i only have crappy fm stations" [paraphrase] yeah it's portable for a reason maybe you want to hear the news on the road unless your simpleminded to think the ipod is cool if it is so awesome why does apple keep coming out witha cheaper crappier version instead of expanding on the version they have?
It's just ridiculous to read some of the comments here, Jeff is correct on all points but apparently everything Microsoft creates is just great even through there are clearly players that are way better at everything.
The Microsoft fans should ask themselves why they keep getting fooled by this company, buying overpriced software, using proprietary formats.
I just don't get it but I guess that's what branding is all about, making people feel like they bought the greatest thing on the planet even though it clearly isn't.
The rabid comments from some people here just prove that they deep down know they have been fooled.
There, fixed it for ya.
I love to hear the Mac zealots talk. Especially when they say things like. We are happy to pay buy song Jeff why would you want it any other way. Why would you want to drag and drop music.
I think it is fairly easy to say the current model sucks regardless of player. You have to have capacity to do anything. This of course is economically driven. Bandwidth providers do not compete on price. Hardware manufacterers do.
I was playing around with Urge with my Girlfriend. We passed play list back and forth using Windows Media player by dragging songs out of urge (You can also drag artists complete works or albulm by album or song by song) A 100 songs takes up about 6 kb in a playlist.
So the future is Wireless. You will not carry around your music you will just stream it from some server. (your own or a paid service)
Once Apple, Creative, IRiver, M$ get this through thier heads and setup deals with a cell phone provider to actually not rip you off. Innovation will truely happen. Cell phones are currently an artificial market. The idea of minutes is a profit model not a necessary evil. Just look at AOL in the beginning of the mainsteam internet. They use to have metered service.
Zune will die. Apple is for the zombie masses who do not get that some things should be a feature not an add on. The best current solution is Creative Zen you can have as little control (full synch of lib) to granulaur control (you drag what you want). Not binding you to a platform is not a weakness its a power Apple zealots. I should not have to hack my device to do this. Also I shouldn't have to have to construct my player from 30 dollar add ins to get basic feaures.
One of the main reasons I bought an iPod is so I could take advantage of the cottage industry of add-ons.
At the moment, my iPod is pimped out with an Agent18 case and a SendStation USB/Firewire combo adapter.
If you want to rage against the machine, ditch the white ear buds. With alternate headphones and a stylish protective case, most people won't even realize you're packing an iPod.
Steve Jobs may be a hardware guy, but he understand separation of concerns better than most of us software guys. :)
I'm a gadget geek, and I agree with many of the "must have" features in your ideal music player. I bought one and gave it to my sister.
It could do voice recording. My sister hated this. She said after her 2 hour jogging sessions she usually wound up with 20 minutes of discontinuous panting she had to delete because it was too easy to switch into and out of "record" mode.
It had drag and drop to load the music. She loathed this at first. She did not want to take the time to change the filenames to something descriptive so she always used it in random mode since she could never find the song she was looking for.
It had FM radio. She liked the idea of this feature, but quickly found that she liked FM radio better in her car than on the run. Cars have better antennas. Car drives for short trips won't mean constant commercials or hearing the same song played four times in two hours. This is a fault of the commercial FM stations in her area (Atlanta) but it's something she didn't really notice until she was using the radio for her daily runs.
Adding in some problems with the form factor, she came to really despise my gift to her. Over Thanksgiving she proudly showed me her new iPod Shuffle (the matchbook sized one) and I very much see now that my "ideal" music player as a lazy, geek doesn't even come close to the kind of music player she needs as a marathon runner.
Bobbleson, when you say:
"the same audience for which the Mac is designed...those who don't WANT to be geeks.",
Maybe you should think it twice next time you say it and I would definitively recommend you to do a little bit of research about who are using Macs, or to go to a (non-ms) conference where geeks tend to concentrate (like OOPSLA) and see how many mac-geeks you find, and who are them. I promise you will be surprised. I also recommend you this essay: http://www.paulgraham.com/mac.html
And to Jeff Atwood, I usually like your posts, and I certainly think that you are right in some of your points about iPods (for example, FM and OGG), but when you say:
"How can I properly rage against the machine with the same standard, factory issue music players that everyone else has?"
Don't you have the same feeling when you use the same operating system that everyone else has?
I just want a player that works, is well thought out, and has good quality audio. I'd really like good quality recording too ("voice recorder" to me equals "low quality recorder").
I've tried Creative products before. I don't like them. I tried a friends Zen - it was counter-intuitive, and didn't allow for enough file hierarchy to organize my audio properly. And it couldn't be used as a bulk-storage hard drive. I don't trust that company to make good products or supply necessary information to operate them properly.
I don't like proprietary. Apple tried that before and I think they lost the PC market because of it. Don't be surprised if the same thing happens to iPod.
There is much talk about features, but what about audio quality?
Back in the days of the first Rio dragging and dropping the 30 songs that it held was nice. But how, exactly, do you manage things by dragging and dropping when your music player holds thousands of songs?
"it's no longer a cool technical accessory": And then you go out and buy a Creative Zen Vision:M and a iRiver Clix?!
"there's no voice recording, no EQ settings, no gapless playback": And your wife was complaining about this?
Regarding Daniel's comments on format support being excluded so that people are forced to buy music through iTunes: I have a 1st gen. iPod shuffle and I've never bought music off iTMS. It's not even available in my country. I rip my CDs, I buy music off emusic.com (which I'm very pleased with) and listen to it all on my shuffle. Works dandy.
All your points are very good reasons why the iPod isn't right for you. But calling these things a mistake on Apple's part seems to be overstating the case. They sold 22 million iPods last quarter. I think they can handle not selling another one to you.
On your point regarding iTunes vs dragging and dropping files, I think this is the really interesting part of MP3 players. Drag drop is simpler in that you don't have to install an application on your computer to use your device. But if you decide you've had enough of a track, and want to delete it, you've now got to delete it from two places, your MP3 player and your computer. And how about creating playlists, rating tracks, playing stuff on your computer on Shuffle? All of these can be done without an application, but iTunes tries to simplfy this complexity by taking everything you do with your music, and putting it all under the control of the iTunes interface.
I can understand that those of us with years of managing ourselves via our filesystem might find this a wrench, but I'm personally much happier managing everything via iTunes. It seems like less effort. And I suspect that for the vast majority of the public (i.e. people who really aren't fans of computers), it'll be nicer too.
Jeff -- I am an extremely happy iPod user. I've owned 4 (starting with a 10 GB model, and culminating in one of the newest iPod Nanos), and before that I owned 2 different Rio MP3 players.
I think your Reason #5 should say "proprietary softare" rather than "custom software." Also, as many others have pointed out, the iPod now supports gapless playback, and is usable as an external hard drive with no partitioning necessary.
However, I think all of your reasons against the iPod are valid. No, it doesn't have a subscription service available. Yes, you need to use their proprietary software (iTunes) to use it. No, it doesn't have a built-in radio or recording abilities. And yes, even soccer moms and grandmothers have iPods.
The iPod is *not* for everyone. I would certainly be considered an "Apple Fanboy" by people who use that term, but I accept that what is right for me is not right for everyone. You can find cheaper music players that have more features and different options.
I hope you are happy with your next player, and I promise to never push my iPod on you or arbitrarily claim that it is "better" than whatever you happen to choose.
"When connected to a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine, MTP support allows you to drag and drop music directly on to the device-- without installing any software. It's not ideal, since it's tied to Microsoft, but it's the best I can do"
Does that mean you prefer to run Windows rather than install iTunes?
Want to talk about mainstream? Rage against the machine.
I think the only valid complaint you've raised is that the iPod is mainstream and thus not cool for geeks anymore. But in my opinion, the alternatives are just too poor to switch, even if owning an iPod hurts my geek cred.
you care about Ogg. teh funny.
Personally I see your frustration but currantally Apple does have a hold on the market. There are pleanty of cheap alternatives but Why settle for something that isn't top of the line. Now the Microsoft Zune is cool. Unfourtunatly they are really up to par with the iPod yet.
Also as a seacond note, the only soccer moms with iPods I know are the tech challenged ones who have their husbands put dumb music on it then they can't figure out how to use it so they just leave it in the car.
And would it be too much to ask for an on-off switch, instead of hold down the play button and stare at the screen for five seconds to make sure it's off?
I had to write to say that I totally agree with Jeff. I'm sorry guys...but I got an iPod Photo for 600 bucks as soon as it came out and my husband got the Zen Vision:M and it does DOUBLE what the iPod does for half the price (for you math geniuses out there, that means 300 bucks!). And this was as soon as the Zen came out too! I am not happy when I see that I paid more than 500 bucks for something that does not have built-in radio and recording capabilities. See the word BUILT-IN? That's what it's all about. If you go out and buy all of the gadgets you'd need to do at least what the NATIVE Zen Vision:M system does, your iPod (at least mine) will end up costing almost a THOUSAND bucks...not to mention that it will look like a huge ugly monster with all those things connected to it...where would you put a monster like that in the car? I just put the remote controller device in my iPod and it was so heavy that it was falling off the device I purchased to hold it close to me in my car! And, by the way, I have tried connecting more than one device at a time and I can't. Either there are not enough jacks to hook all of them together or the thing gets heavy like hell. So NO...NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!! No WAY I am buying an iPod again. And NO, not all of the add-ons are cheap. Actually, many of them aren't. Well, unless the guy who said that in this post is a millionaire. But I'm not...I have a budget at home. Finally, not all of those devices work well. Some eat part of the iPod's battery life to do its work and some are just plain rubbish, like the external drive that is sold to transfer pictures to the iPod without using a computer...my experience: pure trash.
Guys, the fact that Apple has the market now doesn't mean in ANY way that it will have it forever. Just ask Nintendo, who was the video game master for many years just to end up getting beat by Sony.
I have an iMac and a PC at home and I connect the iPod to both. And let me tell you, the fact that the iPod saves files using the same folder structure than other programs that run in the iMacs (such as iPhoto) bothers me. This is because iTunes just stores the music "randomly" (and with this I mean randomly within a structure that is convenient to Apple...because I know it's not really random). Yes, I got Sharepod, which solved this problem...but WHY in the WORLD would I have to go through such a hassle of going on the Internet and spending hours looking for programs that would help the iPod do the things I can do with the Zen Vision:M by just hooking it to a computer and turning it on??? And for half the price??? No, people, forget it!!! And no, it is not as easy to find hidden folders in Windows. Of course, for me, an electrical engineer with a DSP background, it is extremely easy...but for people like my mom or dad, it's not. Or even for somebody who is too busy to learn how to do this is a hassle. I have many, many, many friends as young as myself that are not interested in computers and, thus, don't buy the iPod players because they get scared at the fact that everything has to be done through iTunes. Even that is complicated enough for them not to buy the players! These are the people I end up seeing with USB mini players because, of course, for them is much easier to drag and drop files (my little brother is an example). Guess why these little players haven't gone out of the market yet!!! They are a significant chunk of the business too! A friend of mine who just started College said "Nah, to hell with iTunes...I want something I just plug-in and drag and drop stuff. That's it!". Needless to say, she purchased a MuVo player. And this was a girl who just started College. I graduated from College five years ago. So there you have it, not all of the young people out there are tekkies.
I am very, very sorry for Apple. Now that the new Zen Vision:M has USB host capabilities (and it's BUILT-IN, thank you very much) I am moving to the Zen too...I will give my iPod to a poor kid that I met several weeks ago and I will get myself a Zen. I feel sorry that the new Zen doesn't support radio recording but, as you may already know, there is always a way around that. But at least I had to search for only ONE program to do that, not like in the iPod, in which I have to buy various peripherals and download multiple programs to get it to do what the Zen does already right out of the box. Sorrryyyyyyyyyy!!!!!
Look,Jeff is ABSOLUTly right!iPod is utter crap!i mean,the only good thing it has is that u can use it on a mac or on a windows,wich to me really doesn't matter because i dont use mack!the iPod is ugly!the zen vision m is elegant!i bought one a few months ago and its just perfect.rock on with the drag and drop 2,jeff!ur absolutely right
I just want a decent mp3 that is going to work seamlessly on my windows (respect) system, looks relatively respectable, will get me through a 20+ hour flight without the battery life worrying me and that will not fuck me over after 9 months of buying it.
And I want a decent amount of space too - none of this 1/2 GB business.
I've always said that I'd never buy an iPod.
But lately I've been looking at the 30GB Ipod Video, (having a few friends who've had no problems with it whatsoever) and all I want is to find out whether my earlier suspicions were solid or not.
Can anyone tell me
a) Is it worth it?
b) What are my alternatives?
Here's a better alternative to the ipod nano. Feel free to go to the site and post feedback.
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As a Korean who is accustomed to using generic, 'crappy' mp3 players,
The mere fact that one has to install some big program (which needs ANOTHER program, Quicktime) just to insert music in...
I got my iPod as a gift, and I'm seriously considering on passing this over to my brother. Yeah, he'll love this one.
I'm ambivalent about this one. I think the primary audience for the iPod continues to be the same audience for which the Mac is designed...those who don't WANT to be geeks. My wife would never use a drag'n'drop player, but she's all over the iTunes interface. Its easy playlisting, auto-syncing, and typical Mac-ish bubblegum interface make it easy for her to keep her nano running. She doesn't WANT a portable storage device, or a voice recorder, or any of those things...she wanted something to play her music and audio books. She doesn't care about formats, ogg versus WMA, Windows versus Mac or whatever...she just wants it to work when she pushes 'play.' All she has to do is pick a playlist or individual track, using the easy-as-pie multiple-choice interface, and she's set. The iPod/iTunes combo is ideal for that kind of user.
I agree with Rossen's comments. I have an Archos 440 and you can simply mount the whole thing as a removable HDD. I use SynchroniseIT! to copy my music, I've no idea what software came with it.
It supports both DRM and DRMless WMA files too.
I use a Cowan M3 myself (the predecessor to the X5), and agree with most of the points. Styling isn't too important to me since it's always out of sight in my pocket, but the rest are real downsides.
Particularly #3 and #5 - the limited format support makes it useless for me, and the requirement to manage it through custom software is a pain. I've no objections to being *able* to use an iTunes-like interface to sync it, but being forced to is entirely undesirable.