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Choosing the right MP3 player
Hawk at 4:03PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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I'm having trouble choosing an MP3 player. I won a Zune 30 in a contest a while back, and I'm thinking of replacing it (explanation later). However, there are a lot of MP3 players out there, and for many of them you can't know how convenient or good they are until you're using them. After all, they all play music and they'll all claim to be convenient. I was hoping somebody could help me narrow things down or tell me what they prefer. I'd like to note that I'm shooting for around 30gb of storage space.

Here are my thoughts on some of the main ones:

iPod Touch - I tinkered with this at the store and I really liked its sleek design and the touch screen. But $500?! This goes back to our other Apple thread. I'm also a bit hesitant to let iTunes become the ruler of my computer media.

iPod Classic - It's a lot more affordable than iPod Touch, but it still has some of those hangups. Plus, I'm a bit hesitant to become just another iPod user. I think a lot of people do that out of ignorance.

Zune - I own one of these, and I'd like to replace it with something else. The Zune itself is certainly not a bad machine. It has a larger screen than the iPod Classic and it's quite compatible with all the non-Apple formats I'm accustomed to. But where this thing really loses is the software. Microsoft doesn't care about it. They won't make it run with WinXP 64bit, so I have to boot up an old computer and transfer music files to it in order to use my Zune. And I'm not buying Vista. And the software is awful. It's bare-boned and featureless, and only lets me sort music a couple different ways.

Creative Zen - Seems like a pretty good choice so far, with a higher color depth than Zune and iPod Classic, and it plays all my other favorite video formats. It also lets you insert SD cards from your digital camera. I'm not sure why you'd do that when you can view them on your digital camera. The only downside I could see is that it doesn't have a Video-Out, which would be nice. Plus, I've never seen or used its software, so does anybody know how convenient it is?

Creative Zen Vision W - Like the Zen before it but with a bigger, nicer screen and the Video-Out. Costs $50 more (making it $300)

Creative Zen Vision M - Not sure why this exists except that it has a much smaller screen and a touch pad that's probably more tactile and friendly than a D-pad. Other than that, it has the same features as the Zen Vision W with a smaller screen and is $50 less.

So, does anybody have some input on MP3 players and what might be a good choice? Is there a lesser-known brand I'm leaving out that might be good?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
lastcall at 5:12PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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I have an iPod Nano and it works great, especially at work. I can listen to music while I do my work and then watch TV shows or movies during my lunch break. And it's small enough to fit in my purse or pocket, and not too big like the iPod Touch to attract attention from nosy kids or people next to me (and it's cheaper than the Touch)

What I like about iTunes is that you can get music and TV shows & movies for a lot cheaper than actually going to a store and buying them. It saves me a ton of money. The iTunes Store is also very easy to use and has pretty much everything that I've been hunting for, even rare songs I thought I'd never find.

…The downside is that they are mp4 (not mp3) encoded, so they are only for your iPod….and nothing else.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:28PM
isukun at 9:18PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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If you're looking into the iPod Touch, I'd also take a look at the Archos 605. Overall better system with more features and space, plus it's more expandable and the browser that you can get for it just doesn't feel as cheap. It also has a bigger, higher resolution screen than the iPod (and is still touch sensitive). You have to pay for some things as downloadable plug-ins, but the systems themselves range from $230 for the 4GB (with SD card expansion slot) to $400 for the 160GB. The one closest to the current Touch on the market is the 30GB model which retails at $300, $200 cheaper than the 32GB iPod. That more than makes up for the $30 browser. Both Circuit City and Office Depot carry them. Best Buy carries them, but prioritizes iPods in the store, so you can only find them on their web site.

What I like about iTunes is that you can get music and TV shows & movies for a lot cheaper than actually going to a store and buying them.

Sometimes, but not always. I find more often than not, on TV series I can find the box sets cheaper on DVD than I can find full seasons on iTunes.

…The downside is that they are mp4 (not mp3) encoded, so they are only for your iPod….and nothing else.

One of the plug-ins for the Archos systems is a codec pack that covers all the Apple codecs and file formats. Plus, there are other systems that can also read the H264 .mp4 files (like the PSP and a number of off brand portable media players).
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
korosu at 9:26PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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I have an iPod Classic, and I absolutely love it. Of course, I'm biased, but still.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM
isukun at 9:35PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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My family has had four iPods, all of which died in less than a year, all from different generations (all had the same problem, too, and to this day I refuse to buy a system without a removable/replaceable battery). I have a Creative Zen Vision (the original Zen Vision, not the W or M) and it's been going strong for more than 2 years. I also like how it came with the A/V cable which Apple usually charges an extra $100 for. I tend to be a little biased, too.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
korosu at 10:33PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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isukun
My family has had four iPods, all of which died in less than a year
See, I don't understand that; my first iPod was a 2nd Generation Nano, and after 2 1/2 years it still works great. I have heard that some iPods keel over after a couple of years, though. *shrug*
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM
ozoneocean at 10:56PM, Aug. 7, 2008
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Apple products aren't all produced in the same factories so I hear… Sometimes they have bad quality control issues with various items. Really, really bad quality control in certain instances. But to their credit it seems that they do tend to take care of most of those issues. Even if it's just to replace you thingo.

I use my phone for MP3s :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Walrus at 11:55AM, Aug. 12, 2008
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Hawk
iPod Classic - It's a lot more affordable than iPod Touch, but it still has some of those hangups. Plus, I'm a bit hesitant to become just another iPod user. I think a lot of people do that out of ignorance.

I've got the 80 gig iPod Classic. I've had it for almost a year and I'm not anywhere near filling it halfway up, which is pretty good considering I have 12 movies, 27 TV Show episodes and 759 songs. I'd wouldn't necessarily go with the classic, it seems like the more songs you have, the more of a chance you've got for your iPod to freeze up.

I don't know if this is true or not, I don't have a Zune but an iPod seems to be the easiest to use. Although, it's sometimes a hassle if you're downloading a movie, it can take up to a few hours and it's not that fun waiting hours to download a movie that you can watch in just the same amount of time it takes to wait for it to be on your iPod. I'd look at what everyone else has to say about what's listed on your purchasing options, then choose.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:45PM
JoeL_CQB at 8:35AM, Aug. 13, 2008
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i'd say if you're running itunes, get an ipod of some sort.

If you're running something else… then get something else…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
isukun at 10:49AM, Aug. 13, 2008
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I don't know if this is true or not, I don't have a Zune but an iPod seems to be the easiest to use.

The Zune isn't all that different, but getting through the installation is a pain. The Zen is easier, though. Even if you don't install their custom software, you can still just plug it into the USB port and most Windows PCs will pick it up as a hard drive. Drop the files in the appropriate folders and the Zen figures out the rest. When you do install the software, though, conversions are faster (at least on my PC I can convert a video in about half the time it takes to watch, although you can find all sorts of free video conversion software that's faster than itunes). Most devices which aren't iPods will also sync with Media Player 11 which I find has more features than iTunes and far less overhead. Avoid iTunes if you can, Apple doesn't bother to optimize it for PC and as a result, it eats system resources like nothing else. Not to mention it's ugly and clunky when you want to actually play your media through the computer.

The software on the Zen Vision W is pretty much the same as on the iPod classic. In fact, Creative Labs sued Apple for stealing their interface.

If you do go with the Zen, get the Zen Vision W. I like that it has the metal casing and a removable battery, since usually the problems people run into with these devices are the batteries. The higher resolution and bigger screen don't hurt, either.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Hawk at 1:16PM, Aug. 13, 2008
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Yeah, the Zune as a device is just as easy to use as the iPod. It's the Zune software that is a painful mess.

isukun
Even if you don't install their custom software, you can still just plug it into the USB port and most Windows PCs will pick it up as a hard drive. Drop the files in the appropriate folders and the Zen figures out the rest.

That's EXACTLY the kind of features I like to see. I'm becoming increasingly more sold on the Zen. Thanks for the info, Isukun.

How I store my music on my computer is a lot like that. I just make my own directories and store music under my own sort of organization. It's part of the reason I don't like iTunes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
skoolmunkee at 1:49PM, Aug. 13, 2008
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I have a 20gb iRiver that I've owned for… at least 4 years now. It's worked beautifully but it's a little too big to be easily portable so I only use it at home now, and plug it into speakers to listen to stuff while I'm drawing. I'm not sure iRiver is a viable large-size mp3 manufacturer anymore, but as far as interface and hardware goes, they're tops with me.

I have an iPod nano which I bought for portability and that's the one I take with me on daily walks and stuff. iTunes is easy to use and it doesn't ‘take over’ all the computer media- you can tell it what (if any) file types you want it to attach to and so on.

However, iTunes is *constantly* wanting to upgrade, and for some reason their store doesn't remember if I've already purchased something or not, which seems pretty elementary to me. I buy old podcasts and stuff on there, and when a show has 350 episodes available (most of them unnumbered) it's hard to remember which ones you already have. So I have a few doubles. I'm absolutely anal about backing up my iTunes directory because if anything happened to it, I'd have to re-purchase everything in it. (Instead of iTunes store remembering what I've bought already and letting me re-download it.)

I also hate how iTunes dictates how my audio files are stored. It gives things extra names, and it keeps podcasts in a ‘podcasts’ folder instead of in an artist folder. I think you HAVE to install iTunes to be able to interface with your iPod on a PC (I've never been able to access mine via straight usb connection) and that means you can't just rename folders and so on as you want. As soon as you try and bring it into iTunes it fiddles things around on you. It's really frustrating to search around your music library in iTunes because its organization system isn't how I would like, and I can't make it do what I want. I don't WANT a huge list of all available music all at once, I just want to click around in folders and things. But you don't get that choice. (Among other things.)

So. The iPods are lovely pieces of hardware, but iTunes really ruins some of it. If you're going to be using the file system a lot, go for something you can plug in and use as a drive and don't have to use through proprietary software.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM

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