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Best Portable Music Device (i-pod, i-river, creative, etc).


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#1 of 33 Bobby*K

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Posted March 26 2005 - 02:30 PM

I am in search of a new mp3 device and I have heard many things on a few selections that I am interested in. I am turning to the forum for some advice on what, if any, experience you have with any device. Thanks.

#2 of 33 Thomas Newton

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Posted March 26 2005 - 05:11 PM

Depends on your needs and your budget.

If you are looking for a player to listen to while you are jogging, then a flash-based player would best suit your needs.

If you are looking for a jukebox player, to hold compressed copies of a good fraction of your CD/LP collection, the full-size iPods / iPod Photos are by far the best players on the market. (It would be nice if Apple would offer a clean way to do gapless playback, and if Apple would fix the bug where the player resets the clicker preference following startup from deep sleep.)

Figure 1 GB == about twenty 50-minute albums @ a 128 Kbps (MP3 or AAC) encoding rate, so the 30 GB iPod Photo can hold about 600 albums, whereas the 6 GB iPod Mini can only hold about 120.

#3 of 33 Brendon

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Posted March 27 2005 - 12:17 AM

Bobby,

I'll second the iPod recommendation. I'm currently using a 60GB iPod photo (my main workhorse) and a 512MB iPod shuffle (for going places I'd rather not take a bulky, valuable player). The ease of use of both the player and the jukebox software, iTunes, is pretty much second to none. If you've not used iTunes before, you can get it free from http://www.apple.com/itunes/

The iTunes software itself will give you a fairly good idea of the ease of use - the iPod is equally easy to use.

The sound on the iPod is pretty good, and can be improved upon by using better earphones than those supplied in the box.

In terms of other players, the iRiver line have much to recommend them. Most of them integrate with Windows Media Player running on Windows rather well. The sound, on the higher end players, is arguably better than on the iPods but lose out in the interface design and seamless link between the iPod and iTunes.

I've not used any of Creative's players long enough to form a worthwhile opinion.

It'd probably help if you could let us know the following:

Are you using a PC with Windows, a PC with Linux or a Mac ?
Do you have a library of digital music already ? If so, are they in MP3 format or another ? (ie which application did you use to rip your CDs_
How much music do you want to be able to carry around with you, rough number of albums ?
Do you want a simple "plug in and it just works" player or do you mind fiddling with your computer to get a better sound/configuration ?
Do you plan on doing sports or the like with your player ?

Hopefully we can help narrow your choice down a little and recommend some players that will meet your needs more closely.

Cheers!

Brendon

#4 of 33 Jason Kirkpatri

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Posted March 27 2005 - 05:33 AM

For workouts, cycling, jogging, etc, nothing beats a flash based player. I use a 2004 Creative Nomad MUVO model, 128MB capacity at 1.1 USB. At 192kps, I get just over an album worth. This works great for me as I change albums every week or so. I'm not big on having 1,000 songs at my disposal for an hour and half of workout time.

However, I will be springing for a newer MUVO model, 256mb at least (two albums!), but mostly for the USB 2.0 connection speed. 1.1 speed is way too slow.

#5 of 33 Carl Miller

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Posted March 27 2005 - 08:33 AM

I'll tell you what not to buy...Don't buy a Creative Zen Micro.

I bought one, and gave it a favorable review here based on first impressions. Since then, I've discovered that the battery charge drains when the player is shut off because it's supposedly in "sleep mode" and never really off.

The result is that if you listen to the thing for 2 hours one day, and let it sit turned off for 3 days or so without using it, the next time you turn it on the battery is drained almost fully.

Creative basically says that the player does go 10 hours between charges if played for 10 hours continuously and they seem to feel that this is acceptable.

Bottom line is that it needs to be charged at minimum every 3-4 days even if you don't use it. Spend your money elsewhere.
Carl

#6 of 33 AricB

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Posted March 28 2005 - 02:33 AM

I just got the 40gb iPod photo on closeout for less than $400 with a bunch of accessories the new ones dont come with, carrying case, dock, etc... I love it, been ripping cd's ever since I got it. I'm upto like 5000 something songs so far... it's great. check apple's site and look for the red tag for clearance items...

#7 of 33 Matt Fisher

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Posted March 28 2005 - 02:46 AM

On my college campus, the number of students with iPod's is ridiculous, they are buying these by the masses. I want nothing to do with them, but I have yet to hear anyone complain about it, it definately seems to be the way to go if you're looking for a new portable music player. I'm sticking by my MiniDisc forever Posted Image

#8 of 33 Brendon

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Posted March 28 2005 - 03:58 AM

Quote:
they are buying these by the masses

Just occassionally the most popular in a particular field is also the best; to wit the Beatles and now iPods.

Brendon

#9 of 33 TheLongshot

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Posted March 28 2005 - 03:59 AM

Since I'm a runner, something portable that could handle the rigors of my running was a must. So far, nothing has beat out my MPIO FL100. It is small, and unlike I-River's offerings, is actually expandable. I love it.

Jason

#10 of 33 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted March 28 2005 - 04:03 AM

Quote:
Don't buy a Creative Zen Micro.

I bought one, and gave it a favorable review here based on first impressions. Since then, I've discovered that the battery charge drains when the player is shut off because it's supposedly in "sleep mode" and never really off.
Huh. Good to know. I almost bought one for the wife. Got her the Creative Muvo TX FM 512MB flash player instead since she's mostly just using it for workouts. She likes the FM radio feature too, and having LCD display (even a small one) is better than none (ie. iPod Shuffle) although it's probably not that big a deal for workout music. Good thing about that player is that it uses AAA battery -- you can always use rechargeable AAA's -- and also comes w/ the needed accessories for working out.

The one thing not to like about the iPods is the non-user-replaceable battery. From what I can gather, if you use your iPod a lot (say several hours a day), the battery will run down in about a year or so. And Apple charges $100 for battery replacement -- you can buy a >=$30 3rd party kit and do it yourself, but do it at your own risk as usual. And yeah, the Shuffle doesn't have this option since it's too inexpensive for that.

With some of these flash players, eg. Shuffle, Muvo TX FM, you can also use them as "jumpdrives" w/ their USB keys, if you like, ie. no need for cords to connect. Not all of them have this though.

I'm still considering a 60GB iPod Photo for myself though because I'd like the ability to offload photo files from my CF cards during the occasional vacation or long trip in addition to access to a fair amount of my music collection in true CD quality -- Apple Lossless format is appealing to me, especially since it seems that classical music compress quite well at better than 2:1 ratio from what I can gather.

One other thing about the iPod though is the "audio defect" issue. Check out iPodLounge.com to find out more about it.

http://www.ipodloung....d=4776_0_8_0_M

_Man_

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#11 of 33 Tim Markley

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Posted March 28 2005 - 05:58 AM

Quote:
If you are looking for a jukebox player, to hold compressed copies of a good fraction of your CD/LP collection, the full-size iPods / iPod Photos are by far the best players on the market.
Based on what criteria? Sorry, but best selling doesn't equal best and you say "by far the best". If I was looking at buying a 20gb player today, I'd still purchase a Rio Karma over an iPod. Better sound, longer battery life, gapless playback and other features that made me choose it over an iPod. iPods are nice players but why does everyone who owns one think that they're just the greatest thing ever made?

#12 of 33 ElevSkyMovie

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Posted March 28 2005 - 06:05 AM

Quote:
why does everyone who owns one think that they're just the greatest thing ever made?


Because they haven't tried anything else? Posted Image Posted Image

#13 of 33 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted March 28 2005 - 06:31 AM

Quote:
gapless playback

What is this about playback gap on the iPod?

_Man_

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#14 of 33 Matt Fisher

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Posted March 28 2005 - 06:33 AM

I don't know about elsewhere, but on my campus here, it's become more of a social statement than a functional music listening device. It's like you gotta have an iPod to look cool, everyone has one, I think it's a bit ridiculous that I know people who are getting them just because they think it looks cool and they think Apple is some sort of like "indie movement".

#15 of 33 Brian L

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Posted March 28 2005 - 07:04 AM

Quote:
What is this about playback gap on the iPod?

If you rip a CD like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", there will be a slight pause between tracks, even though much of the music on the LP is meant to be played back continuously w/o any pauses. Its no different than Clasical stuff, or even live rock where there is applause between tracks.

The only way around it with iTunes/iPod is to use the "Join Tracks" option when you rip. It will then be treated like a continuos, single track. Downsides to that include shortenned battery life, and loss of individual track access.

But, music ripped with "Join Tracks" enabled will play back without any pauses or gaps.

This is a total deal breaker for some users, but for me it is totally insignificant. I do use "Join Tracks" for stuff like Floyd, thus hearing my music as it was intended w/o any gaps, and don't worry about the shortenned battery life or loss of track access.

BGL

#16 of 33 Jack Briggs

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Posted March 28 2005 - 07:43 AM

Please post hardware-related questions in the appropriate hardware area. Thanks.

#17 of 33 Michael St. Clair

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Posted March 28 2005 - 10:04 AM

I'm thinking of getting a new player, as my 20GB Karma is always full.

Has the gapless playback issue still not been addressed on the iPod? Posted Image

What about other MP3 players?

I'm sorry, but I'm not giving up track access, and I'm not going to go back and re-rip all of my albums that segue (tons of stuff from Zappa to Floyd to live albums to jam bands to classical, etc). That ship has sailed. Any player I buy needs to work with my existing digital library.

It's absurd that most 2005 MP3 players are missing some of the functionality of a 1983 CD player.

#18 of 33 Chris-V

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Posted March 28 2005 - 10:14 AM

While the Ipod is a good player for many users, there are many other options out there that are worth considering, particularly if you want something that will do more than just play back music you've ripped/downloaded. Be aware that the only DRM-enabled tracks an Ipod will play are those you download from Itunes. Similarly, Itunes files won't play on non-Ipod players, so if you have a large library of DRM files, you might want to think about the source before deciding which player to buy.

If you want a hard drive-based player that does a ton of stuff, consider the Iriver H3xx series (if it's still available), which is larger than an Ipod but absolutely loaded with features (photo viewer, color screen, FM radio, recording from any source, video capability (if you're willing to give up DRM - PM me with questions about that), text viewer, etc...). He Iriver H10 series seems set to replace the H3xx, and also has a lot of great features with improved ease of use.

If you don't care about the extra features but don't want to pay the premium for the Ipod, think about a Creative Zen (depending on the battery issue mentioned above, which I did not encounter on an older Zen model). The successor to the Rio Karma (which many people swear by) is due out this spring, I think. The advance word was that it was supposed to set the curve for blending functionality and ease of use, but I haven't heard much about it recently.

Having had a couple of different players, I would tell you to be cautious before rushing out to buy an Ipod simply because so many other people have them. It may be the best option for you, but give some thought to other available features you might want, as many players that compete with the Ipod have them at about the same price or lower prices.

#19 of 33 Ted Lee

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Posted March 28 2005 - 10:45 AM

one thing rarely mentioned is the VAST amount of accessories available for the thing. whole house docking stations, car audio interfaces, etc. these are possibilities that do not exist (or are hard to find) for other mp3 players.

having that much flexibility in finding accessories for your gear is half the fun/benefit.
 

#20 of 33 Tim Markley

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Posted March 28 2005 - 10:48 AM

Quote:
Because they haven't tried anything else?
Exactly!

Quote:
I'm thinking of getting a new player, as my 20GB Karma is always full.
Unfortunately I'm in the same boat Michael. That's the only problem I have with the Karma. It's just not enough space for me. I guess that I'll have to do some looking into the Karma successor that Chris-V mentioned. Hopefully it'll be available in a >20gb size.


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