Portable MP3 players - I'm clueless

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jon_Are, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I'm considering buying a portable MP3 unit, primarily to by used while working out (including running).

    I'm looking for something less than $150, and I'm wondering about this one or this one. Comments?

    Also, what is involved with transferring selections from CD into the portable MP3? I guess I load songs onto my hard drive, convert them to MP3, then load them via USB onto the MP3 player? Am I correct in assuming that I use some (hopefully included) software to do this?

    Any info on what I should be looking for when purchasing this device would be greatly appreciated.

    Jon
     
  2. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    My personal preference are for the hard drive based MP3 players such as this from Amazon. In the case of the Archos HD products, when it connects to your computer via USB it is seen as just another drive, and you can drag and drop MP3s on it. The best thing about that kind of thing is you can take it to work and then move the MP3s your PC there without any special software needed. I definitely recommend that you check out whatever player you decide on to see if it needs special software to connect to the PC. My prior player, a Creative Labs Nomad, used their proprietary software to connect, and was a pain in the ass to deal with.

    As for converting your music to MP3, there are a number of programs that can help you. The player may or may not come with something. I recommend looking into MusicMatch as I find it quite easy to work with. There are other encoders out there, such as LAME which many prefer, but in my experience MusicMatch is the most straightforward and easy to use. One nice thing about MusicMatch is that once you pay for it, you get lifetime upgrades, or at least it used to be that way. And they've constantly improved over the last few years.

    The overall process of moving your music from CDs to MP3s on the player will depend on the product you buy. For instance if you bought a Nomad, you could use their software for everything. If you use MusicMatch and an Archos, you would run MusicMatch, specify a directory for your MP3s, put a CD in the drive, then with the click of a button it'd convert your CD to MP3. Then you'd just drag and drop the MP3s onto your player. Other products would work in a similar manner.
     
  3. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Keith - I guess I didn't realize that there are different types of MP3 players...how can the one you linked to hold 10GB while the others I linked to hold just 128MB?

    Is one hard-drived based while the other uses some sort of removable memory (similar to a digital camera)?

    The advantages of the Archos are obvious; are there any disadvantages to getting a hard-drive based player?

    Finally, would the Archos be feasible for use while working out?

    Thanks!

    Jon
     
  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Any of the MP3 players in the GB range (at least for now) use a laptop harddrive. The 128MB and similar models use some form of memory. I'm not entirely sure if the archos would hold up during running, but anything else, cycling, walking, perhaps jogging, should be fine. Check out their website, I'm sure it'll cover that.

    Another good thing about the archos is that you can use it as a portable hard drive. If I need to transfer a large file to and from work I can just put it on the archos. It's quite handy.
     
  5. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    Jon,

    I have an earlier version of the iRiver called the IFP-180T. Essentialy the same unit with 128Mb and a slightly different design. Works great, excellent sound quality and the battery life is much better than expected (only uses 1 AA battery).

    The iRiver came with Sennheiser ear buds that are ok but not comfortable or not very bass-responsive. A visit over to headwize.com helped me find the solution: "The Plugs" by Koss. $15 at KMart they sounded pretty good right out of the box. But after changing the cushions with Flents ear plugs ($3.99 at the supermarket) they sound awesome...The Flents really conform to your ear canal and make these $15 headphones sound incredible. There's even a further "mod" that I haven't tried yet but you can read about it here: Koss Mod

    The player is about the size of a Bic lighter and I use the carry strap to put it around my neck then tuck it under my shirt and it's very comfortable for running. The software included is very easy to use. Works like Windows Explorer with cut & paste or drag n drop from PC to player. For some reason you can't copy mp3 files from the iRiver to a computer only from the computer to the iRiver.

    Anyway I'm very happy with both the iRiver and the Koss headphones.
     
  6. Jay Heyl

    Jay Heyl Stunt Coordinator

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    Another option, though probably not appropriate for running, is a CD player that plays MP3s. I have two, both manufactured by iRiver, that work very well. They're a reasonable compromise between the small capacity of the fully solid state models and the hard drive-based models.

    Rio is about to release a 1.5GB player that uses a microdrive. It's not quite a small as some of the smallest solid state models, but it will still easily fit in a pocket (3"x2.5"x0.6"). Rio is also about to release a couple hard drive-based units that should give the iPod a run for its money. These units will do WMA, MP3, OGG, and FLAC. They have USB 2.0 on the unit, along with Ethernet in the base station. The base station also has RCA line out connections. Given the price point they've announced ($399 for 20GB, $499 for 40GB), this is definitely going to up the ante in the disk-based MP3 player arena.

    As for ripping/encoding, Music Match is easy, but there are a lot of people who are not happy with the quality of the rips. Ripping analog audio is not the trivial thing it would seem and ripping errors abound in tracks ripped with some of the less robust products. Most of those heavily into compressed audio recommend EAC or CDex for ripping and LAME for encoding if you're going to create MP3s. EAC and CDex can both be configured to go out of their way to ensure data is accurately ripped from the CD. EAC, CDex, and LAME are all free.
     
  7. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Some random thoughts...

    If the player uses USB make sure it supports USB 2.0. Transfers with USB 1.1 are painfully slow.


    I'll second Keith's points regarding player software -

    In addition to the specs / price point on the player, pay attention to which software is bundled with the player. There are a lot of options for producing MP3s from your CDs ( I use Exact Audio Copy and LAME ), but your options for software to transfer files to the player are likely to be very limited due to the proprietary nature of the players.

    The Rio models sound nice, but if they are still using Real to handle the file transfers ( the Rio Riot used an older version of Real Jukebox to handle transfers ) then I would advise you to avoid the Rio players like the plague. Admittedly I haven't experienced any of the Real software in some time, but older versions of Real software were infuriatingly invasive and were extremely "nagging".

    Edit:
    Found this over at CNET

    - Walter
     
  8. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Thanks, everyone...

    As usual, after having gained a bit of knowledge about something, I find myself more confused than ever.[​IMG]

    1. Are there just two main types of portable MP3 players? I assume one is hard-drive based; what are the others (the 128MB capacity, for example) called?

    2. The prices do not vary much at all between the two. Why would someone settle for 128MB when they can get a model with a hard drive, which will hold 100x as much data yet cost about the same? Is it a portability issue? Are the larger capacities new technology and just coming onto the scene?

    3. One of the models I linked to uses "internal flash memory". Does "internal" mean non-removable? Does this mean that I'll have just two hours capacity at all times, and will have to continually add and remove songs when I want to change my listening preferences, due to the limited capacity?

    I guess I should make it clear what my goals are:

    I want a fairly small, dependable, higher-capacity device for less than $150 that will hold tunes that I will acquire from my CDs. I will use it almost exclusively while working out.

    Thanks again,

    Jon
     
  9. Andrew Grall

    Andrew Grall Supporting Actor

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    My wife and I have owned several players now, in search of players good for running.

    The Nike one that you linked up there... my wife had that one for a little while. GREAT design. It is small, has a great armband so that it doesn't stick out from your arm at all. It is the ONLY water-resistant portable mp3 player. Basically, she loved it. The problem? It didn't work. More to the point, it claimed to support both mp3 and wma files. wma files are nice because you can get similar sound quality in a smaller file so that you can fit more music on the player. Her player locked up frequently when using wma files, and a "fix" on the website didn't work. After a little more searching on the web, we found out that a lot of people had this problem with the Nike player. It was also a pain to set up on the computer for transfers.

    We have also had (and I still have) a Rio Sport mp3 player. It has lots of features, although its integrated radio doesn't pick up stations real well... I have been very happy with it. The only negative is that it is not really water resistant, so you have to be a little careful if it is going to downpour. You can transfer files either with the included software, or with Real player or Windows Media Player (which is what I use...).

    My wife eventually settled on the Muvo 128. It is extremely light and small. It doesn't have a lot of features, but what it does, it does well. It slides apart so that you plug it directly in to a usb port and transfer files directly to it as if it were a drive on your computer. It can double as a portable memory stick. Plays music very well. You can either order an armband separately, or if you order online, it comes with an armband. It is so light and small, that my wife usually just puts it in her pocket while running.

    Anyhow... my two cents. Take it as you wish. [​IMG]
     
  10. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    It costs a bit more than $150 (well, double that, actually), but the Apple iPod is the best MP3 player on the market. It's small, simple to use, works with both Macs and Windows PCs, rechargable, and holds a ton of music. I've had mine for 2 years, this November. The 10GB model is now $300. I paid $400 (or was it $500?) for my 5GB model, of which I bought two. One was for my fiancee, and she still claims it's the best gift she's ever received. I think she likes it more than her engagement ring.
     
  11. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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  12. Mark Schermerhorn

    Mark Schermerhorn Second Unit

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  13. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    IPOD is king, and the older 5 gig can be picked up for around that price used.

    -V
     
  14. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Me:
     
  15. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    Jon,
    I'm sorry you didn't find my post helpful. I was just telling you what I felt was the best portable MP3 player on the market. Sometimes paying extra is worth it. I certainly felt it was when I bought both of my iPods, having looked at many other portable MP3 players.

    Also, someone else may also be shopping for a portable mp3 player and read this thread. They might like to consider options that you aren't.

    Also, Vince suggested looking for an iPod used. That's a great idea, and one that I admitedly didn't think of.

    Oh, and my name is Don, not Dan.
     
  16. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    The iPods are perfect for someone with an active lifestyle. I've used mine biking, running and in-line skating with absolutely no skipping. I've carelessly managed to drop it three times and the hard drive still works flawlessly. You can by one used and/or refurbished for $150. Or you can buy a second-tier player (like the Archos or Nomad units) new for the same amount of money and pray that you get the same reliability and functionality.
     
  17. Mark Schermerhorn

    Mark Schermerhorn Second Unit

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  18. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    Just be aware of this with any of the not-brand-new iPods: You will need a firewire connection to your computer, so chances are you'll need a firewire card.

    My first iPod was the 5 gig version. I have the old 20 gig version right next to me as I type this, and I love it!
     
  19. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Hey Don,

    You're right, and I apologize. I was just cranky that day.

    (You're the first person I've ever rolled eyes at.[​IMG] )

    Take care,

    Jon
     
  20. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I'm a little late to this thread, but why not an MP3 player that loads the MP3's off CDROM like jay suggested? I prefer to spend 25 cents on a blank CD to the cost of laptop drives or solid state storage. The ones I've used all load the MP3 into memory and spin down the CD, so skipping shouldn't be a concern.
     

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