Thursday, October 04, 2007

iPod? Nah, Probably Not!

A couple of years ago, my wife bought me a fantastic MP3 player, the Creative Zen Touch. This nifty little device had a 40 GB hard drive which is room enough for a heck of a lot of music. I really loved this player, and had it loaded with about 3000 songs, numerous podcasts, and audio books. Earlier this year, it was stolen. It really pisses me off. Why do people have to steal instead of buying their own stuff? It's one of the major life lessons I tried to teach my boys as they were growing up...if it isn't yours, don't touch it without permission. Simple rule.

Well anyway, I am finally getting ready to replace it with a new portable music player. These devices have come a long way in a couple of years, as most come with color screens and can play video as well as audio files. Microsoft just announced the next generation of their Zune, and a few weeks back, Apple introduced the new iPods. Now I must say, I am tempted by the iPods, especially the new iPod Classic and its choice of 80 or 160 GB hard drives. That could hold tens of thousands of songs. Still, as tempting as it is, I probably will opt for another player. Here's why.

First, although I have no experience firsthand, I have read reports of the iPod being a bit slow, as well as not having the best audio playback, something pretty important in a music player don't you think? Secondly, Apple has lately been treating its best customers with less than stellar service. The company's recently introduced iPhone was introduced with much fanfare, then after about 3 weeks, the price dropped $200! Now although this is wrong, I almost think the buyers happily spent the money to be an early adopter of the latest toy. Products do have lifecycles, and generally drop in price, but that soon?

But the really bad thing is that Apple is pushing updates of firmware out to purposely ruin, or "brick", iPhones of customers who have used software to unlock the phones from AT&T, allowing then to use the devices on other carriers. These phones are not Apple's property, but were purchased for premium bucks by these customers. They should be able to do what they wish with them. I am leaning toward the idea that any company that would do that doesn't deserve my money for their iPod, regardless of how nice it is.

So, after some research, I found that Creative, the maker of my stolen Zen Touch, has a new, flash memory based, 16 GB Zen coming out in a couple of weeks. No, it doesn't have the storage of a hard drive model, but should be very durable without the moving parts of a HDD. Plus, it has some things the iPods lack, including a built in FM Radio and a slot for SD memory cards to increase the capacity. Reports of the similar 8 GB and 4 GB models already on the market, indicate the new Zens carry on Creative Labs' reputation of excellent music reproduction. Plus, the Zen can use more file types than the iPod, such as WMV files, and is not tied to Apple's iTunes. I won't buy from iTunes anyway since the files are locked with restrictive DRM (Digital Rights Management), disallowing many legitimate uses of the music you buy. I will go with's un-DRM encumbered MP3s if I want to buy music online. In addition, the Zen reportedly has a very good color screen for viewing album art, photos and video.

So it is looking more and more that I will sacrifice storage capacity for the yummy goodness that is the new Zen. Besides, 16 GB plus an SD card slot should take care of most of what I want to carry around anyway, and it's twice the capacity of the new iPod Nano's highest capacity device. Still, the only thing holding me back is that I liked having all that capacity on my Zen Touch. Once I decide and get a little experience with whatever I end up with, I'll do a review here. Stay tuned!

To get a look at the Zen, check out Creative Labs' website at

1 comment:

Ryan said...

The mp3 player I'm really drooling over is the Trekstor Vibez. The company has a spec sheet up at their
. It goes for about $200 on Amazon for the 12GB model. Yeah, the storage isn't as much as the ones you're looking at, but there's some other features I like that this player does that others have not:
-On the fly playlists.
-DJ mode where the player can choose from recently loaded, music you haven't listened to in x amount of days, genre, random for x minutes, and others
-Fully customizable five band parametric equalizer
-It shows as a hard disk in the Windows environment
-It handles pretty much all types of DRM's out there right now
-Insane (~18 hours) battery life.

I used to have the Rio Karma, this player's predecessor, and I was spoiled. I'll never be able to look at an iPod the same way again.

I've been saving pennies so I can get one. Almost halfway there!