Headphones & Mp3 Players

General discussion

Buying my first MP3 player, advice needed!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 18, 2007 10:18 PM PST
Question:

I never thought in my wildest dreams, I would be considering
a MP3 player for myself, but here I am asking for advice on
one. Every where I go, I can't help but see ads for the iPods
and I'm very curious if this is the right MP3 player for me.
I don't want to buy an iPod just because it is the trend as I
want to buy something that will last me in the long run. Is
the iPod really that popular that it is a must buy? Forgive me, as I'm completely new to this type of gadget and I want
something simple to use and has low learning curve. Can you
suggest a MP3 player that will be small enough for me to
carry when I go for my daily walks? I also would like
something with a screen that will allow me to store pictures
of my kids, and one that has enough storage space for my
entire Beatles and Elvis CD collections. What are some things
that are a must to look for in a MP3 player and of course
what are things I should avoid or be aware of when I buy a
MP3 player? Any advice and recommendation will be helpful.
Thank you.

Submitted by: Nancy S.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:

Selecting a MP3 Player


Nancy,

Selecting a MP3 player can be a daunting task in today's market. The choices are staggering and it can lead to quite a bit of mental overload as one tries to wade through the myriad of options. I myself have been through the process of purchasing a MP3 player three times in the past three years and hope that some of my experiences will help you.

First, iPod is just one of many choices available to you. My first MP3 player was an iPod and I found it to be quite sufficient for my needs at that time. The current models are, from what I have read, quite competent music players and any one of the Nano models sound like they would meet your needs in that they are small enough to be carried around easily, will store and show pictures, and can hold your music collection with room to spare. In addition, the click wheel interface device is very easy to use and makes working with the Nano (and other Apple MP3 players) very simple. As you are a novice to the MP3 world I think you will find iTunes (the software needed to interact with the Nano) to probably be the best and easiest software with which to work. Not that there is anything wrong with the other options, but regardless of folks feelings about iPods (or Apple in general), iTunes has a solid reputation for ease-of-use, which would be good for someone with your lack of MP3 experience. Keep in mind though that Apple MP3 players must be used with iTunes - you cannot use their MP3 players with other software. Apple uses a closed system to ensure reliable performance between the requisite software and the MP3 player. This is neither good nor bad, but important to understand up front.

However, Apple isn't the only manufacturer of MP3 players and other companies make very good products as well. I'm particularly partial to Creative Lab products and currently own two (a hard-drive based unit as well as a flash-based one). My flash-based player would also serve your music, photographs and portability needs quite readily (it is the Zen V Plus). However, I am not as happy with their bundled software, which must be installed for use with their MP3 players. However, you do not have to continue to use their software if you simply want to load music & pictures onto your player. Other media player software options are available, including the well known Windows Media Player. Personally I don't think Windows Media Player is as intuitive as iTunes, but it's not difficult either. It is, in my opinion, simply not as polished. However, and as previously stated, you are not locked in to using the software which came with the player or with Windows Media Player. Other software is available on the Internet and much of it is free and will work quite fine with most any MP3 player other than ones from Apple.

Of course, there are other companies such as Microsoft, Archos, Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, Cowon, iRiver, and Rio just to name a few. And many of these afore-mentioned companies make very good MP3 players, but some simply lack name recognition in the market place. Searching for reviews on sites such as CNET can go far to helping provide you with an idea as to whether or not they meet your wants and desires.

As far as sound is concerned, that is always a matter of personal preference and can be very much impacted by the headphones that come bundled with whatever player you ultimately purchase. I think most persons would agree that purchasing an after market pair of headphones will do the most to improve sound quality as most players, across manufacturers, generally sound good to great, but that the bundled headphones are typically rather mediocre. Naturally, a feature that may be of interest to you would be the ability to modify the sound by using an equalizer, which would allow you to boost or attenuate a relatively narrow band of music frequencies. Some players include pre-set equalizer settings, while others include both pre-sets and the ability to allow you to create your own special setting (and to save it for use again and again).

Lastly, pictures are really nothing more than a different type of file when compared to music files. You can transfer picture files as readily to most MP3 players as you can music files. Again, the software you use will be important because some software is easier to work with than others. You shouldn't have any difficulty loading your player with pictures of family and friends, but be certain to look carefully at pictures that are preloaded on many MP3 players so that you can compare and contrast the quality of the image between players while you are looking them over before buying.

I sincerely hope any of this information helps you in your research and best of luck selecting a player.


http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=272424&messageID=2640036#2640036

Submitted by CNET member forkboy

If you have any additional advice or recommendations for Nancy, please click on the reply link and post away. To view all member submitted replies, just scroll down and read on. Thank you!
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mp3 player choices
by filmtex / November 19, 2007 3:42 AM PST

Nancy, It really is not just about the player, but the software you use to get your music into the player has a lot to do with it as well. In this regard, the choice by far for most people is iTunes. It has a great interface, works really well, and is fun to use. It uses the QuickTIme engine to play not only mp3's but just about any other type of audio and video it runs across. The reason the the iPod became the defacto choice for players is because of the attention to detail that apple used to develop the whole system. I have a 3g (third generation) iPod that my wife gave me for Christmas in 2005, I just recently had the battery replaced (beg deal- $54!) and now it's like brand new again. It has been with me on all my travels throughout the world and continues to "just work". And that, in a nutshell, is why the iPod is the best choice for most people- it just works.

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mp3 player choices
by apkamal21 / November 30, 2007 2:36 PM PST
In reply to: mp3 player choices

Nancy, It really is not just about the player, but the software you use to get your music into the player has a lot to do with it as well. In this regard, the choice by far for most people is iTunes. It has a great interface, works really well, and is fun to use. It uses the QuickTIme engine to play not only mp3's but just about any other type of audio and video it runs across. The reason the the iPod became the defacto choice for players is because of the attention to detail that apple used to develop the whole system. I have a 3g (third generation) iPod that my wife gave me for Christmas in 2005, I just recently had the battery replaced (beg deal- $54!) and now it's like brand new again. It has been with me on all my travels throughout the world and continues to "just work". And that, in a nutshell, is why the iPod is the best choice for most people- it just works.

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Get a Zen
by altennant / November 19, 2007 3:55 AM PST

Go get a 4gb Creative Zen V plus. It's got an OLED screen that is colorful and bright, it has easily navigable menus, and if you're into audiobooks, it easily allows you to set bookmarks. Add to that its low cost, a battery that lasts forever, and the included FM radio and you have a winner. The Zen's software is easy to use, or you can just drag and drop out in Windows.
If you are a casual user, 4gb should be sufficient; i'd avoid anything with a hard drive (i've had 3), and try to stick to a flash player.

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MP3 Players
by katonc / November 19, 2007 3:58 AM PST

This is going to be short, but to the point. Ipod, and any apple mp3 players are good. I can't really say anything bad about them, EXCEPT they monopolize their players to use Itunes music or system to play on their units. I myself will never use their system because you have to use their system to play music from another source. I'll give you any example. I have over 5k songs and a friend of mine wanted a few songs. They would not play on his ipod without first d/l to his computer and then running it through his itunes first, before it would play. I would get ANY ( I say "any" in regard to freedom ) player so that I can choose to get what ever song from what ever source to play, without going through a monopolized program ! There are plenty of excellent mp3 players that are out there to choose from. Some are Archos, Toshiba Gigabeat, and others. With them, you load on the things you want and go have yourself a good time. You won't have to go home and run them through itunes to get it to work.

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Ipod good!!
by statue311 / November 19, 2007 4:02 AM PST

I was in the same boat 2 years ago. I believed the hype and I am glad. My Ipod has help well for 2 years now and my son is on 2nd mp3 player and complains about this 2nd on getting corrupted files. He is putting up with until he can afford his first Ipod. I know there are good mp3 players, but the Ipod has a great interface and they are overall a reliable player from experiance. Itunes has been a great help too.

I am calling Mac now for my endorcement. LOL

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MP3 player
by billcarroll2004 / November 19, 2007 4:04 AM PST

Whether to buy an MP3 player or Ipod apparently depends on what you wish to use your new equipment for. When I bought my MP3 player a year and a half ago it was because I found out that the Pima County Arizona library system now allows a library card holder to download audio books to their computer and then to the their MP3 player. As I was preparing for a many month motor home trip I wanted to be able to do that because I love listening to audio books as I drive.

When I queried the Pima County library I was told that only MP3 players would have this access and was warned that if I bought an IPOD I would not be able to access this service. At the time I did some surfing for information and selected a recomended IRIVER MP3 player and have been successful in downloading an audio book to my computer. I haven't yet subsequently
downloaded it to my MP3 player because my planned trip has been delayed and I still have access to picking up the audio books at the library. I have been happy with my MP3 player though for listening to FM radio when I take my walks or use the treadmill at the YMCA. It appears to be adequete for me. But I'm sure there has probably been a lot more sophisticated MP3 players developed since I bought mine.

Bill Carroll, Sr., Oro Valley AZ
billcarroll2004@mindspring.com

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MP3 Players
by lrussell / November 19, 2007 4:05 AM PST

I was given an iPod Nano for Mother's Day by a dear friend. It was stolen from my car at a quick lube car wash place.(If you want specifics just email me - I'll be glad to share). I felt like I had lost a friend. I never would have considered an MP3 until I used one. I highly recommend the 4th Generation iPod Nano combined with the Nike+ chip. It is like having your own personal trainer. Luckily my sis replaced the one that was stolen and I am back on track - or on the track! Check out Nike's site to see how it works. You won't regret it.

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Don't think about an iPod...
by 5551234 / November 19, 2007 4:10 AM PST

I have an iPod...but I regret it. If you download music from iTunes, you can't put it on a cd and put it in your car or put it on a travel drive to put in your stereo. I just don't recomend an iPod for the reason. If this doesn't make sense to you, I think someone else will also talk about this, too.

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Yes you can!
by cysound / December 1, 2007 2:15 AM PST

I was amazed to see this post, as it is completely erroneous with the remark about burning CD's. You can burn anything from iTunes onto a CD, you just have to know how. Maybe you should look at the iTunes help file?
Also as a comment, iTunes was the first and is still the premiere music service that makes sure that artists get paid for their creations. As a lifelong musician myself, it is absolutely true that illegal downloading has ruined the music business.
Don't steal music!

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Yeah right
by rkinne01 / December 2, 2007 6:31 AM PST
In reply to: Yes you can!

Illegal file sharing has damaged the music industry? Baloney! Its the labels who have ruined the music business!

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taking ITunes music and burning them to CD
by perfectme7 / December 2, 2007 11:52 PM PST

Yes, you can download music from ITunes and burn them to a CD and play them on your cd player, you can also take that cd and reload it into Windows Media Player and convert your music file to mp3 or wav.

One advantage about getting an Ipod and using ITunes is that you can buy an ITunes gift card anywhere which makes for a great gift. However you can share your ITunes music through other computers on the network but you can NOT burn their music on a cd from your computer you have to be on the computer that purchased the music which prevents copyrights I guess.

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You can burn a cd!
by ouimetnick / December 3, 2007 4:43 AM PST

You can burn a cd! Just make a playlist of the songs you want to burn!
Then insert a CD-RW or a CD-R and click Burn in the lower right hand conner. You will need a compatable CD burner installed on you computer! Every computer has one these days!

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more FUD - ignore people who attack apple without ANY facts!
by zahadum / December 8, 2007 1:17 PM PST

first off, the obvious:

nancy, as you can see from these posts, the majority of replies mirror the considered opinion of the marketplace: the ipod -- as part of a whole, integrated, and well-designed system -- is the best choice for a mobile media player.

that is a no-brainer ...

which seems to be the same condition (ie no brains!) that leads "5551234" to make such a ridiculous statement that the apple does not provide an approved method for renoving the 'fairplay' DRM (digital rights management) on music purchased online apple's itunes music store -- which is what the fear-monger (5551234) actually was trying to say when he asserted the ipod system wont let you "burn a CD".

the itunes 'eula' (end user license agreement) *specifically* allows you to use apple's itunes software to make copies of the music -- both with the DRM (and not just on your own computer but also on several other computers of friends & family!) or also without the DRM (usually on 'burned on CD'), in which case apple expects you to be on the honour system viz copying to other people ... indeed apple has taken the lead in encouraging the big music companies to ship music without any DRM at all (and several have followed suit).

the lesson here is this:

when you see people make wild claims about what apple products can not do, be on your guard! this kind of disinformation is usually the result of classic microsoft 'FUD' (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) which was part of the reason that the USA department of justice and the EU competition commission both prosecuted microsoft as a cyber-gangster - FUD is a marketing tactic designed to stall for time when you have inferior products: by scaring off potential customers from competitors' products, microsoft either buys itself time to improve its own mediocrity or it starves smaller companies of the cash until they die.

while microsoft is now legally prohibited from practicing FUD tactics in order eliminate consumer choice, there are still legions of people outside microsoft (sometimes just simply ignorant, but also many times deliberately lying) who are conditioned to smear other products with misinformation - especially apple's.

like any other empire - commercial or political - that is founded on lies, the microsoft regime cracks when it is exposed to the light of day.

[ for more background on microsoft's wider war on media competition, see the excellent coverage at Roughly Drafted:
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/5F0C866C-6DDF-4A9A-9515-531B0CA0C29C.html
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/8AA115DC-2398-456E-9319-FE5842A41BD1.html ]

the results speak for themselves: as apple has entered into new product categories (eh ipod, iphone) that have not aleady been distorted by microsoft's criminality, apple has been hugely successful in trems of awards, market share etc. This success is tangible proof that microsoft's dominance in the desktop category is a function of the historical inertia produced by the illegal behavior of the 90's - indeed the 'halo' effect from apple's 'unencumbered' products has helped bring attention back to the inherent superiority of apple's own desktop products (the macintosh & its operating systems - jaguar panther, tiger, leopard) ... as is witnessed by the 20% retail marketshare that apple now enjoys in laptops.

nancy, the bottom line is that the big difference in the hype as between microsoft and apple is that it is usually false for the former & true for the latter.

but 'hype' is NOT the same as 'fad'! ...

in annual customer satisfaction surveys (eg J.D. Power) apple almost always places first.

this _FACT_ is the reason for such high customer loyalty.

choosing apple because it is now so 'popular' is NOT an act of mindless jumping on bandwagons ...

apple is popular because it really _is_ cool (not the other way around).

the ipod (iphone/imac/ibook etc) ... it is the real deal.

the 'brand promise' is great products that "just works" (and apple generally goes to great lengths to keep that promise. )

in other words, apple's success is based on offering customers a superior value proposition that its competition cant or wont match because its competition usually doesnt have the brains or a passion for excellence to do so.

so, nancy, ignore the fools & the liars.

look at the facts (which are the enemy of all ideology!) -- they usually will lead you to correct decision Happy

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Ipods
by bdreading / November 19, 2007 4:16 AM PST

I have an older computer that I bought 4 years ago. While it still runs like a top, I can't get the Itunes software to cooperate long enough to put any songs on the Ipod I recieved as a gift last year. It's just an Shuffle player which would've been ok for me, but I don't know if it's the computer that's holding me up or what. I did buy a cheapie on Ebay. It is a Perception Digital that only holds about 25 songs but that's long enough for a nice walk. It also lets me record voice which is a nice feature. I paid only about $20.00 for it then but I'm sure you could get twice the memory for about the same price now. The nice thing is I can drag and drop my music files using Windows Explorer so there's no confusion for this old lady! I'd love to be able to figure out why this Ipod won't work for me but will for someone else using a Mac, so if anyone has a reason, I'd love to hear it. Good luck to you Nancy. It really isn't a difficult choice. Just go with what suits your wallet.

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i-pod therefore I am!
by Tony Wood retired / November 19, 2007 4:20 AM PST

Nancy,

I am 65 and just retired. Like you I was apprehensive about going portable. I treated myself to a 60GB i-pod last year and haven't looked back.
I had a large collection of CDs and as the i-pod comes with it's own program, i-tunes, I was able to convert all my CDs to small mp3 files. I now have every CD on the i-pod. My entire collection only takes up half the available space.
Photographs and converted DVDs can also be added.
The 'young things' I see jogging every day have a smaller i-pod than mine strapped to their arms. If you fancy doing away with bulky CDs and their cases then I can recommend the i-pod for its ease of use and the famous Apple style and reliability. You can effectively take your entire music collection with you.
I hope you find my personal experience helpful.
Good luck!
Tony

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I'm with Nancy
by oregonviewer / November 19, 2007 4:21 AM PST

Nancy is not the only reader who is flummoxed by the MP3 player isues: the IPOD or what else debate. I am up to speed on other digital technology, but am clueless on MP3 and related tech. Inasmuch as Beratles, Stones and Motown tunes also ring a bell with me, I hope this doesn't sound like complaints of lame boomer tech-phobes. That isn't me-- and probably isnt Nancy, either. Thnx for discussion.

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iPod is not your only option.
by vxt / November 19, 2007 4:25 AM PST

The current generation hard drive iPods are known to have bad audio quality. Google "best sounding mp3 player" to get an idea of what players are being considered to best when it comes to sound. 2nd generation iPod Nano had really good sound. You can still find then on ebay.

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MP3 Player
by jenolesh / November 19, 2007 4:32 AM PST

I don't have an Ipod but I have purchased several Sandisk MP3 players. I have a 6G and 3 of my children have the 4G and the 512MB. I also purchased one for my mom and she can use it just fine. They are fairly inexpensive and the Sansa e series players can hold pictures and video. There is also a slot for a memory disc which lets the player hold even more video and music. The sandisk is easy to use. We use ours with Windows Media Player which is probably already on your computer. These players are flash players which means there is no hard drive in them so there is no chance of the music skipping. The players are fairly small although not as small as the Ipod nano. I had a problem with the 4G player but eventually Sandisk technical support helped me fix it and it has worked fine since then.

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Recommendations for your first MP3 player
by bdavison / November 19, 2007 4:32 AM PST

First off, Im very glad to see that you arent just considering becoming a lemming and going for a Ipod or Zune. Congradulations you have an IQ higher than 5.

Things to consider. Ipods have the broadest range of accessories. These accessories arent necessary to enjoying a MP3 player, but they can be very nice luxury additions. Things like additional speaker boxes, alarm clocks, cases, faceplates, etc.

I would suggest going with more "universal" MP3 players. Accesories can also be found for these types, although they are not "drop-in" modules like the Ipod. Search for MP3 players that arent limited to ITunes, or Rhapsody downloading.

Check out the Insignia NS-DV4G from Best Buy. Its an explosively rich MP3 player that includes many features that the Ipod does not. Two headphone jacks so that you and a friend can listen. Its not limited to specific MP3 vendors. Expandable memory, Video playback, Standard Radio, E-books, etc.

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Go your own way. You are not a sheep!
by Truckles / November 30, 2007 5:32 PM PST

Hi Nancy.

There've been two consumer revolutions since the early 1950s: the advent of clothing that is ready-to-wear. And the advent of clothing that is ready-to-read.

The hidden label that once testified to the provenance of the clothing has become the overt label that testifies to the provenance of the wearer.

Many wearers think that's great. "Look at me, folks. Look what I can afford because of the amount of money I've available to spend." Or: "Look at what I've got, folks. I'm exactly the person all those glossy ads were desperate to attract." (Insert: rich / discerning / sophisticated / young / attractive.)

There's just one word missing. Sheep. As in: "Look at me, folks, I'm a sheep that will follow any other sheep anywhere."

(Or even 'sheepish': because that's how you'd feel, were someone to insist you spent your life walking up and down Main Street in a sandwich board.)

To what extent the iPod's massive success is due to the number of sales to sheep is impossible to fathom. But sheep purchasers there most certainly are -- people who really are naive enough to think they are asserting their individuality through the adoption of ready-to-read clothing and consumer items.

When in fact, they've just lost their identity in the herd.

So: don't be a sheep. Don't be a sandwich board carrier. Don't buy anything because its advertising is glossy and the people in those ads, even glossier.

Buy an iPod for what it actually is, not the lifestyle-statement-of-a-sheep.

But only do so after identifying your specific individual requirements. And only after trying out, if possible, as many short-listed players from as many shortt-listed manufacturers as possible.

Me, I can't say if an iPod is good or bad nowadays. All I know is that when I looked for my first MP3 player, the iPod was out-matched by several rivals. And so I and my family plumped for a brand to which we've stayed loyal because we've stayed happy:

Cowon / iAudio.

It doesn't have the dubious cachet of iPod ownership. It doesn't have the $millionsworth of advertising the iPod has (advertising, ironically, that is funded from the excess profits Apple takes from the pockets of purchasers content, for whatever reason, to pay a price much, much higher than the darn things are actually worth.)

What the Cowon / iAudio range offered us was play-back file versatility, superb sound quality, radio reception infinitely better than anything Sony ever managed, and unfailing reliability.

I don't know if it still does because we've no reason to junk our existing equipment. (And certainly, we've no interest in looking at still or moving images on tiny screens. Not in the era of 50" TVs.)

Best thing, then, would be for you to Google for Archos, Creative, Zen, iPod, Cowon and iAudio (though the products are the same, the Cowon name only appears in some markets, only the iAudio name in others.)

Read the reviews. Don't rely on 'em exclusively though, rather view them as road signs along the route you're travelling to your hoped-for destination.

And if at the end of your journey, you settle on an iPod, then all well and good.

Because you'll know you really did follow your own star -- rather than the posterior of that big dumb sheep in front.

Good luck.

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re: Go Your Own Way - Sheep - Cowon
by xarophti / December 9, 2007 4:33 AM PST

When I first got interested in mp3 players, Cowon/iAudio was seriously in the running. Then I heard about their firmware file restriction problem. No matter what the capacity of the player, the firmware limited the number of files and folders that could be stored. Hopefully, they've solved that problem now...

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By what you will use not what's poplular
by Naxman / November 19, 2007 4:47 AM PST

One of the biggest mistakes most people make in getting portable entertainment systems (units that do more than just play mp3's) is to buy features that they will never use. Before you jump into the pool of options on mp3/video/internet etc units, make up your mind all the features that you want to address and then shop for the best deal. Also be aware that in all probability whatever you choose today will be
surpassed by the next model in 3-6 months so just be prepared to put your stake in the ground and have the unit meet you needs now and what you project you will need in the future.

IPODs are great. I have one and I love it but there are less expensive solutions. You mentioned that you want to listen to mp3 music and watch photos as well as hold your entire Elvis and Beatles collection. That last item could push you into the IPOD family on storage alone. There are several products with large capacity storage but when combining ease of use with that, IPODS are going to probably come out on top. It doesn't sound like you are a real techo gadget person so the IPOD classic is probably your best choice. Depending on the size of your music collection you can go with the 30g or larger. The other units might be too small for your storage needs.

But look at the future. Will you want to browse the internet as well as play music, look at photos and maybe even watch a video? Then consider the IPOD touch. The limiting factor here is that largest one only has 16g of storage. For just music and photos that might fit your needs but if your going to consider carrying some videos around with you 16g can go kind of fast.

There are other products like Zune, Archos, etc and each has its strong points and weak points. But the major key is what are you going to use it for now and what do you anticpate using it for in the future (+3yrs if that long because everything will have changed by then).

I wish you luck in your choice..

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Mp3 Selection
by marvells / November 19, 2007 4:52 AM PST

Sounds like you and I share some of the same interests and thus have similar uses for an Mp3 player. I recently bought an iPod Classic with 160 Gigs of memory. It is more than able to handle all of my classic music, pictures of my grandkids, movies and I've even backed-up the data from my laptop hard drive onto it. Oh, did I tell you that I still have 130 Gigs of memory space available.

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Go Cowon Iaudio
by N2XKQ / November 19, 2007 5:00 AM PST

I've done a lot of research on MP3 players and I find Cowon's line of Iaudio products to suit me the best. I currently have the G2 MP3 player which also performs as a voice recorder as well. I would love to someday upgrade to the Cowon D2 which would add video capability like you indicated. Show pictures, watch movies, listen to music and podcasts. Then add in the voice recorder and you have an incredible shirt pocket device! The iPOD never appealed to me in looks or functionality. I'm glad I took the time and did the research. I hope this answer helped you. Enjoy!

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POD CASE
by ricnwolf / November 19, 2007 5:02 AM PST

Apple does make it easy. Any MP3 player is going to require some type of program to get the music into it ? in your case either by converting from your CD collection, or downloading purchased music from the net. For the iPod, Apple utilizes iTunes, a simple (and free) set up program - you can download it now and see if you like it before you ever purchase an iPod!. iTunes will take your CD and automatically convert to MP3 tracks which will then automatically load onto your iPod. This program is also wonderful for creating playlists (a collection of songs that you select from your larger collection) ? you can pretty much create a playlist for every mood! You can also use iTunes to play your music/ playlists on your computer. Other conversion software for other players will do this, but Apple has brought it together into a very simple, intuitive format. You would also use iTunes to download your picture files (in JPEG format).

Some people have indicated that iTunes will not allow you to share your music (or at least allow a minimal number of copies). This is true for tracks purchased from iTunes (copyright protection), but has NOTHING to do with your own CD collection ? you are the owner, so there is no copyright applied through iTunes. You can make unlimited copies from your collection to CD?s, and copies of the MP3 files that you have ripped from your own CD?s.

Battery life has not been a problem - my oldest iPod is three years old and still going great - it lives permanately in my vehicle.

Other players may offer radio listening, voice recording, blue tooth wireless (stereo), interchangeable SD card memory ? these are things the iPod was not designed for. If any of these features are important to you, then the iPod is not your choice. I personally have not found any of this to be a problem.

As it sounds like your music collection is not large, you can probably get away with the iPod nano ? the midsized version of the group. It has a small screen for pictures and enough space to hold (conservatively) 60 albums worth of music. The iPod shuffle
is the smallest, excellent for walks and other activity, but no screen. The iPod "Video" give you plenty of space for just about any quantity of music/ video/ pictures you may care to download. If showing off pictures of the kids is really important, then try out the Touch (or even the iPhone) which undoubtedly has the coolest picture viewing ability, and would still probably be more than adequate for your music collection. Good Luck.

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re: Do I really need an IPOD??
by krwag / November 19, 2007 5:04 AM PST

Dear Nancy,
I am a 48 year old professional who works with people. I am a also a bit of a techno-freak...that is...I have learned how to build my own computer, have an HDTV home theatre system, upgraded the stereo in my new car within 3 days of owning it (and had an automatic car starter installed at the same time). All of my friends call me when they are having any trouble with anything electronic or technical because I really enjoy figuring things out in a realm that I am not supposed to know very much about(by trade, at least). All of that to say that I am someone who cares about quality of experience with electronics/gadgets/and sound.

My niece, Amy, is a graphics artist in Washington D.C. and has always teased me about owning a P.C. (with all of it's 'glitches') instead of a mostly problem-free Mac. But then Mac's and graphic designers go hand-in-hand, or so I'm told. Given that Amy loves and promotes anything made by Apple...and does so while "ribbing" me...(and given the fact that she was always talking about HER IPOD...I decided AGAINST getting an IPOD. (just to get her back) Wink So instead I got an RCA MP3 Player for just under $60 at the time- and was impressed by how good the sound was on it.

Over time, however, I noticed that I became increasingly irritated with it's lack of "user-friendliness" and my usage of it began to decrease.

Eventually...I will confess (Don't tell Amy) that I broke down (for some reason I don't remember) and purchased an IPOD at Costco. I got the 4Gb Nano. Let me just say that I still own the P.C. but I will from here on out ALWAYS buy an IPOD. I love love love it. It is user friendly, easy to navigate and once I figured out how Itunes works...(which just took a little patience and concentration for an hour or so)I was incredibly joyful about my decision. That was about 6 months ago. I have never looked back.

So, Nancy, I imagine there are several really good MP3 options out there that other users can tell you about. But I am very happy with the IPOD and just wanted you to know that...and that the product itself won me over after being an initially unhappy "convert". I've even eaten a little humble pie and told Amy how much I like my IPOD...to her credit...she did not gloat beyond her initial "SEE, I told you, Auntie!!"...

Take care,
Karen

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iPods are good, but there is better out there!
by joelstanier / November 19, 2007 5:17 AM PST

Nancy, first of all, you are right to be suspicious that the iPod is something of a 'trend'. Like many things, they sell primarily based on name/image, as they are very well marketed and therefore are the first MP3 player that pops into the average buyer's head.

iPods these days are actually quite good (although there is some debate as to how reliable they are - you get lots of reports of premature breakdowns, but this could be a law of averages thing due to the sheer amount sold). They are very easy to use, as per your requirement, and they do look attractive. The main issue is that there has always been better out there for roughly the same price.

The new kid on the block is the 2nd generation Zune, which offers better performance on pretty much all counts (battery life, sound quality, picture & video quality). The main gripe with us gadget geeks is the lack of an EQ feature (in which you can adjust the levels of bass, treble and mid-range to suit your tastes), although this may not be a major concern for you if you will be using your MP3 fairly casually.

My personal advice would be to go for the Creative Zen Vision, which pretty much since its earliest incarnations has had the upper hand on the other MP3 players, and particularly the iPod. It has the best sound quality on the market (although you may want to consider upgrading from the stock headphones to make the most of that), a far superior screen to the other players, and better than average battery life, more than enough for your usage.

The clincher for you, though, is going to be the sheer ease of use - whereas the iPod and Zune tie you down to their own software for transferring music, the Zen gives you the option of supplied software, synchronisation with various Windows-based music players (Windows Media Player, Winamp etc.), or you can even drag and drop files, so long as you are careful to keep them in organised folders.

It's perhaps not as attractive as the iPod or Zune, but that is really the only negative, and I very much doubt that will matter to you. It shouldn't.

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why I never buy ipods
by jeannetteld / December 1, 2007 12:06 PM PST

I have owned 4 different creative products over the last several years as they have evolved in physical size as well as gig size.
I am almost 50 years old and taught myself the music download process. I am no novice when it comes to audio quality, however. Ipod will always be the leader because they burst out with an incredible marketing plan and they are trendy and thought to be sort of the harley's of mp3 players. They are not however the best sounding player and i would challenge anyone to compare a creative zen to an ipod blindfolded and with some high quality noise cancelling head phones. Hands down, creative's audio quality is better than the ipod. Soooo, bottom line, if you are trendy and want to follow the herds, get yourself an ipod. If you are a true audiophile, and believe that all the fluff aint nothing if it don't sound good get something else.
Oh and last but not least, i go anywhere i want to get my music- the choices are endless.

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iPOD
by rtc513 / November 19, 2007 5:24 AM PST

The totally different aspect of iPOD is the interface. You slide your finger to increase/decrease volume or to select a menu item. The problem with the software is that it is recorded in only Apple's format and can only be forwarded to one other computer. The battery must be replaced by Apple unless you are an expert and it is not cheap. My wife and I each have one and love them.

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Depends on what you want to do with it
by daver / November 19, 2007 5:27 AM PST

If you want to integrate it directly into your home theater, or if you want to directly integrate it into your car audio then go with and iPod. It will cost you less to get a superior solution. For example, you can get a Drive+Play adapter for your iPod to use in your car with a dedicated seperate large screen showing you the iPod interface in an ideal location on your dash. It will cost less than $100. Same kind of situation if you want to integrate it into your home theater and then buy a remote 2-way RF interface for it so you can control it from, say, your kitchen. You can't do that with a non-iPod without paying some serious $.

If all you're going to do is take it to the gym with you while you work out, you should get whatever gives you the biggest bang/buck and has an easy interface. You might look at iRiver, and some others in that case.

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