iPod and Windows PC compatibility

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Allen Hirsch, Dec 21, 2002.

  1. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Here's a question about using an iPod with a Windows PC:
    I have a Windows 98 system with 1st generation USB as my primary computer (we have a newer, Windows Me system on the other desktop in our house, but that's not where my Mp3 files are).

    The iPod specs say Windows Millenium or newer is required for the op system, and iPod has only Firewire, not USB.

    Am I therefore out of luck on both counts, or is there a converter that solves my incompatibility problem, both in op system and connectivity for transferring files?

    I know there's a program out there that served as a "bridge" for a Mac iPod to work with Windows PCs - anyone with experience who can share how well that worked?
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    just hook your computers up via Ethernet. You could buy a crossover cable and a couple of cards for under $30
     
  3. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Allen:
    I would first say that First Generation USB is wholly inadequate for file transport. It runs at something close to 1 MB per second, which means about 4 seconds a song. That might seem pretty fast, but with 300 songs or more, the time it takes really starts to add up.
    Firewire (and USB 2.0) is ABOUT 40 MB per second. That will give you (ideally) 10 songs a second - much better if you're transporting over a Gig's worth of music to and from your iPod. If you don't HAVE that much music, you might want to look into a CD/MP3 player instead, as it should have sufficient space for what you need, while also costing about half the price of the iPod.
    As for connection - You'll need a FireWire connection to get your iPod to work with your Windows computer. Apple has released a Windows-compatible version of its iPod, and its readily available at most major stores (Target and Best Buy jump immediately to mind). Your new computer MAY have a Firewire connection (it's easy to tell apart from USB, given the unique shape). If it doesn't, you can easily drop in a Firewire PCI card that should work quite well. These FireWire cards cost about $20 to $30, and it's as easy to install as just about any other PCI card.
    As an alternative, you MAY want to look at this - it's designed to pretty much go head to head with the iPod, and its a little less expensive than the iPod if I've heard correctly. It will also work with first-generation USB - though as I mentioned earlier, its not very fast that way. You pretty much trade the design quality for the price, but you'll probably get your money's worth no matter which one you buy.
     
  4. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, guys.

    I knew there was a Windows PC version of the iPod out, but the FireWire/USB issue and the Windows 98 vs. 2000 or Me sort of threw me.

    Brian, thanks for the link to an interesting alternative - I'll have to see if I can find it somewhere to at least demo it in a store.
     
  5. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Another Windows vs. Mac thing is that instead of using itunes to manage your collection, you use Musicmatch Jukebox.
     
  6. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Yes - MusicMatch I now have on my PC, because the Apple store persons at least informed me it was the iTunes non-Mac equivalent, required to manage my MP3s from the PC into the iPod.

    The Nomad Zen that Brian posted the link for is $100-200 less than the iPod (with the same 20GB capacity), per the chart on MP3 players in the latest "Sound & Vision", FWIW. And the Zen is only about 1/4" larger in 2 of the 3 dimensions than the iPod - so it's a real "iPod-killer", potentially, at least for Windows PCs. Only apparent downside just from the online specs: looks like it comes with its own software to manage MP3 collections with.
     
  7. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Allen:
    I think the Zen IS pretty close to being an iPod killer, but I think with the Zen you sacrifice design quality for price. I think it will take a couple of generations for everyone else to catch up with the ease-of-use that the iPod provides. Something to consider.
    Also, I'd wait a month after the Zen comes out to see if any price rumblings occur - another price drop may be in the cards for the iPod. [​IMG]
    Also, don't forget to consider the iRiver CD/MP3 player. It's a pretty good value, and it's quite thin to boot. Depending on the size of your collection (and the importance you place on player size), it might be a better idea. [​IMG]
    EDIT: If you end up with either jukebox (iPod or Zen), be sure to pick up a FireWire PCI card (or a combo USB 2/FireWire card). The time you save will be well worth the money you spend. [​IMG]
     
  8. John Telleria

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    My two cents on the Zen..
    I've owned a Zen for two weeks now and absolutely give it a thumbs up! I had been eyeing the 20GB iPod but couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money for an MP3 player. But then I came across the Zen at Fry's Electronics two weekends ago for $349, but a mail-in $50 rebate from Creative if you buy the Zen through December 31st.
    Yes, the Zen is a little bigger than the iPod, but it still easily fits inside my jeans and coat pockets. So I don't see much of an issue with size. My previous MP3 jukebox was Creative's original 6GB Nomad Jukebox which was the size of a portable cd player and not quite as portable as the Zen. Unlike the older Jukebox which used rechargeable AA batteries, the Zen uses a built-in Li-ion battery which gives you between 9 and 10 hours of play on one charge. And the Firewire support makes transferring tunes MUCH quicker than USB.
    For me, the big advantage of the Zen over the iPod, after the price, is it's support for the WMA format. I've been using the latest release candidate of Windows Media Player 9 to rip my cd collection to WMA format using VBR encoding (85-145 Kb/s). The results are outstanding, comparable to 192 or 256 Kb/s MP3. But smaller files, so you can fit more tunes on your Zen.
    If you don't like the Creative PlayCenter software that ships with the Zen, there's a much better alternative available, the Notmad Explorer from Red Chair Software. It integrates your Zen, or other Creative MP3 player, with Windows Explorer and has some cool features like HTTP streaming through a web interface. There's a free trial version available. The URL is
    http://www.redchairsoftware.com/notmad/
    There's also an optional wired remote available for the Zen which includes an FM tuner and microphone for recording in WAV format to your Zen.
     
  9. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    John-
    how is the read-out and playlist function, and how do the menus work on the Zen?

    That's what REALLY got me interested in the iPod - I liked the way the menus work with the iPod - genre to artist, to album, to tracks if you want to do an individual "call-up".

    I like the option of a mic and ability to record - the Zen could double as a dictophone for me while traveling.

    That's also good to know that Fry's carries the Zen (I saw that demos were being held at all the Fry's in the South Bay, but unfortunately, none are near me in the East Bay).

    Can anyone else comment on sound quality in the WMA format vs. MP3?
     
  10. John Telleria

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    Allen,
    The Zen menus make it pretty easy to navigate your music collection. Like the iPod, you can browse by Artist, Album, Genre, Track and Playlist. If you're browsing by Artist and open up a particular artist, all their albums will appear. You can add all tracks by the artist to your current Play Now queue, or drill-down adding entire albums or individual tracks to the current Play Now queue. The Zen has a Find Music search function that allows you to search by album, genre, artist, track name, etc.
    The Zen's display seems to be smaller than iPod's, but it's still adequate. If the track name is too long to fit on the display, you can scroll to the right to see the rest.

    While a track is playing, the current track display shows the track name, artist, album and progress bar showing the total track length and where it's currently at in the track. A detailed view shows additional track details including the file format (MP3/WMA) and encoding bitrate. One nice feature of the Zen is if you shut it down while you're in the middle of playing a track, when you later turn it back on it automatically starts playing exactly where it left off. I can see that being especially useful for listening to audio books and your own recordings if you get the optional FM Wired Remote with mic. There's also an option for adding track bookmarks but haven't tried it yet.

    Playlists in the Zen are best managed through your PC using either PlayCenter3 or Notmad Explorer. The Zen does allow you to create and manage existing playlists, but it's not as intuitive and takes more effort than using the software to do it.
     
  11. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    Well, I tried the local Gateway and Cambridge Soundworks stores, both of which were supposed to carry the Zen, per Creative's website. No luck - Gateway had two other Creative models in stock, but not even a demo/display of the Zen.

    Fry's may be the only place in the Bay Area that carries it.
     

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