Basic iPod Questions

Why should I get an iPod rather than a basic mp3 player? Can I put my own mp3 and cd songs on it or must I use itunes exclusively? If I have $500 worth of itunes on it and it goes kablooey (under warranty) will Apple reimburse me for the music? Is there anything else good or bad that I should know? I know nothing about them but can get a fairly good deal on one with loyalty points via catalog so there’s no salesperson to answer questions. Thanks.

The main reason I am coming up with nowadays is accessories. Third party hardware made specifically for iPods instead of generic hardware that may or may not work with your player. Oh, and the iPod is a “basic mp3 player” as far as most people care for their use of the product, it’s just the most well known.

You can use your own music. iPods predated the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), and there’d be hell if you couldn’t use your own music.

The real question to ask is whether Apple will cover you if your computer hard drive crashes and you lose all the music stored on iTunes as bought on iTMS (and I don’t think they are too helpful in this regard, but I’m just not sure).

iPod/mp3 player purchase advice threads show up on these boards two or three every month. Running a thread title search on “ipod” is a great start.

Personally, I love my Creative Zen that’s two and a half years old now, and it does everything I need a player to do. I dislike not having Zen-specific accessories (as my generic FM transmitter went to crap pretty quickly), but that’s not that big a deal. I like having a large hard drive player to store my entire music collection, and the Zen does it well.

But I am seriously considering caving to the juggernaut and going with an iPod Nano in the not-too-distant future. Why? It’s an attractive high capacity flash-based player for a decent price break. Flash is safer for active use, as a hard drive player can slip a drum and become a big paperweight if it gets violently jarred (like, y’know, dropped by a clumsy stupid owner).

Oh, and as a PS, what iPod are you considering? Shuffle, Nano, or Video? It makes a difference on comparing to other brands, as well as assessing your needs.

iPods will play MP3, MP4, and Apple Lossless (did I miss any?), and since last week, these video formats: H.264 and Mpeg4 (at 320x240). You can also load up your photos if that sort of thing interests you.

Yes, you can load any kind of audio file or video file (not just the ones purchased through iTunes) so long as it’s in the formats mentioned above.

If you’ve purchased music through the iTunes Music Store, it will download the files to a specific place on your computer. You then, copy those files to your iPod. So if your iPod randomly explodes, you’ll have the backup files on your computer. Think of them as any other ordinary computer file. It’s a good idea to burn the files to disc, so you’ll have them in case your computer blows up too.

And no, Apple will not reimburse you if you lose your music. But that’s not unreasonable. Would you expect Best Buy to reimburse you if you lost a CD or DVD?

I’m currently on my second iPod (60GB iPod Photo) and love it. Had my last one for 2 1/2 years, without ever changing the battery, and I used it every day for at least an hour or two.

I love the way it’s integrated with my Mac and iTunes. No fuss, really. Just slam it in the dock, it charges, and automatically shows up in iTunes. Never had a problem. And they’re sexy to boot.

Obligatory iPod link.

iPod has some nice features that are advantages over most mp3 players. But also some things that are negative as well.

intuitive user interface
good interface with iTunes – things like automatic updating and podcast support
looks nice
size – I have the 60GB version
keeps track of play count and ratings
can make “smart playlists” – i.e. put everything with Genre=Rap, Year=1990, PlayCount=0 into a playlist. As soon as you listen to a song (playcount=1) it’s removed from the list.
Only device that will play iTunes AAC downloaded music

annoyingly popular / become a fashion accessory. You better have a properly tagged collection.
Out of the box transfer functionality is one way only – i.e. you can only copy songs TO your iPod, but not FROM. Also, it’s tied to a music collection, so you can’t put songs onto it from 2 different computers. They want it to be 1 to 1. *HOWEVER, there are several free programs that get around this limitation. *
More to the point, you have to use iTunes (or some other software) to transfers songs back and forth for playback. It’s not drag and drop through “My Computer” as many other mp3 players are.

Sorry, something got deleted here. What I was trying to say is that iPod only organizes music by the mp3 tags – album, artist, genre – not by directory structure.

So, you better have a properly tagged collection.

Apples and oranges.

Would I expect a piece of physical media to be replaced because of my own negligence? Of course not.

Would I expect a DRM’d packet of ones and zeroes without any physical medium like a disc to have some sort of guarantee from the distributor in case of computer failure? Yeah, and I know of at least one download service that does keep a record of your downloads and allow you to redownload songs to the same computer.

On the other hand, depending on how you set things up, you can have iTunes automatically sync/update the music on your iPod whenever you plug it in. This can be done either across your entire library (if your iPod has the capacity to hold everything in your collection) or across specific playlists of your choice. Manually transferring songs is done only if you want to do it that way.

You make a good point, and I agree. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Apple starts offering this as an incentive to buy from the iTMS. But who knows what kind of legal hoops they might have to jump through in order to achieve this. I’ll bet it could be retroactive too, if they started doing something like this now.

Holding my breath…

‘MP4’ is kind of ambiguous. To cover them all, an iPod will play WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless on the lossless side, and MP3, AAC (with or without DRM), and Audible on the lossy side.

Also, supported Mpeg4 video resolution is 480x480 (like VCD).

Photo formats supported : BMP, TIFF, PNG, JPEG, GIF.

Absolutely fantastic input from everybody. Thank you. I have an incredibly better understanding now.