iPod vs. Creative Zen Touch

I’ve been reading conflicting opinions one which one of these players is better, so, seeking an informed opinion, I put it to you Dopers.

So far the main pros and cons of the two players I have infered from various reviews are thus:
iPod (20Gb version):
Pros:

  • Better user interface with the wheel
  • Better software with it (iTunes)
  • They just plain look better
    Cons
  • Pricey
  • Doesn’t play WMA (I have a lot of WMA tracks), and I’ve heard the iTunes conversion process harms the quality
  • The volume doesn’t go that high
  • Crappy battery, have to replace the device after a year at extra cost

Creative Zen Touch (20Gb)
Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • Can use Windows Media Player to configure playlists and the like
  • Better sound quality with WMA
    Cons:
  • Uber-complicated interface
  • Crap software bundle
  • Slower rate of transfer to the device from the compy

So, I put it to you dopers, which of these devices should I purchase for my listening needs? Of course, feel free to throw in another player into the fray.

I’ve not used the Zen personally, so I can’t make a comparison. Although, I have heard good things about it, and already having a lot of WMAs certainly makes it weigh heavily in your favor. BUT, I would like to clear up a (unfortunatley, common) misconception about the iPod, listed in your ‘cons’. The one about the battery going after a year, and needing to replace to whole unit. I’m not going to say no iPod battery has ever died after only a year, but from reports I’ve read, that certainly seems to be an exception, rather than a rule. I had a first-generation iPod for well over 2 years, and while the battery life had decreased some over time, it was (and remains, according to the friend I gave it to) more than usable. I recently replaced it with a 4th-gen model, not because of battery issues, but simply because I needed more space.

The second part of that myth that I want to clear up is that you have to ‘replace the device’ after the battery goes. You certainly don’t need to replace the whole device. You can get Apple to replace the battery, but it is fairly expensive from them (I think it’s around $90), OR, you can do it yourself for around $30 from a place like www.ipodbattery.com. No, Apple doesn’t replace batteries for free; NO company replaces consumables for free that I know of.

Anyway, that cleared up, enjoy whichever player you end up with! Wish I could give you more first-hand comparison experience…

How many is “a lot” of WMA tracks? You could burn them to audio CDs, then have iTunes rip them in as either Apple’s AAC format or standard MP3 with no pesky DRM issues.

As for volume, the popular story is that Steve Jobs is a touch deaf, so he wanted the iPod to be able to play loud. And they are loud. That said, there appears to be a European health and safety standard (EN 50332-1) that legally limits the playback volume for headphone-based devices to 100 dB. As you’re in England, it may apply to you.

Re. the noise limits - some people do complain that the Zen is a bit on the quiet side.

I’ve heard that you can upgrade the firmware to the US version which will overcome the EU noise limits, but not 100% sure how accurate that is.

Everyone I know with a Zen loves it to bits.

Apologies for advancing the fallacy Anamorphic, I was going off some of the more negative reviews out there to get a fair view of the player.

gotpasswords, I’ve got about 300-ish .wma tracks.

Does anyone know whether the Zen Touch will play wma audio in both it’s ‘unprotected’ and ‘protected’ forms?

I’d like to throw in another player into the fray, the Iriver 20Gb - any good?

I’ve got an iRiver 40G (which I’m listening to right now in fact) and I love it. My only complaint would be that the interface takes a bit of getting used to-have to memorize some buttons. Other than that, it’s great. Lasts around 14-16 hours on a charge, depending. I can’t really compare it to anything else though because it’s the first player I’ve ever owned.