Ipod vs Rio Karma vs Creative Zen NX

Christmas is coming, and I’m in the market for a hard drive based MP3 player :slight_smile: .

I can’t spend more than $300 - ideally around $250.

I’ve narrowed my search down to the following:
Ipod 10 GB, or refurbished 15gb if I can find one.

Beautiful looks, great interface, I live Itunes, nice and small.

However, expensive for what you get in terms of storage capacity, and I currently have all my MP3s acrosss both my home and work computers (USB 2.0). I’m worried about the digital rights management that would prevent me from consolidating my files across all three machines (home, work and Ipod).

Rio Karma 20GB

Nice looking, great headphones, still nice and small, good interface, decent storage size, easily syncs with home and work computers.
Still not as sexy as Ipod, Rio quality is an unknown for me, don’t know if it has the scheduler and calendar features like the Ipod.

Creative Labs Zen NX 30GB

Massive storage for the money, removable battery (good for when it dies), great sound quality (better signal to noise than Ipod) according to reviews.
Big and clunky, dodgy looking interface, no idea of the quality.
So…any dopers have any experience with the above? know any more pros and cons? Know where to go for cheap sales, or alternative players?


Try looking at the MP3 reviews from IGN.

Some are a wee bit out of date, but the reviews are nice and comprehensive.

Sorry, no personal recommendations. Lack of money and all…

DRM is only an issue with an iPod for music you download via iTunes. If it’s more a case of ripping CDs then I don’t believe it has any impact (anecdotally, at least, it hasn’t reared it’s head with my iPod).

iPod plus features: small size and relatively light weight, ease of use (especially now iTunes is available, free, for Windows), storage capacity, file transfer speed over Firewire, nice design.

iPod downside: cost, short battery life, lack of an off-mode (the iPod sleeps, so the battery continues to drain even when inactive), appallingly bad headphones supplied, lack of easy compatibility with older PCs (non-USB2.0/Firewire).

I did a fair amount of research into the various options (bought a 256mb non-HD portable instead), but from what I’ve read the biggest advantage of the Creative Zen NX is that it has significantly better sound quality than the iPod. And it’s not just the headphones - better S/N, more power (drives nicer headphones).

None of the above.

Get this: http://www.neurosaudio.com

Plus features:
128 MB backpack AND 20 Gig Backpack
Easy-to-Navigate interface
Programmable presets
Headphone-jack Input
Internal Microphone
FM Reciever
Record MP3 format from any of the above sources.
FM Transmitter for when you wanna go fully mobile… plays your music over any FM radio within (admittedly short) range.
Record and Identify Online ‘any’ song heard.
Less than $250

Downside: Batterypack is built into the backpack, who knows how long it will last.
FM transmission range severely limited by FCC rules.

I just got myself one. It’s AWESOME. q;}

I love the features - but I’m not sure of the form factor - it’s pretty big compared to some of the other stuff. FM radio is the biggest plus in my mind.

I’ve started looking at the 40GB Creative Nomad Xtra, which is the same as the Zen NX but with a bigger display from what I understand. I can find it new online for $288, which is a ton of storage for the money.

he philips hdd100 is beautiful, but it looks like it has DRM stuff to deal with and the frimware locks up a lot. Shame, it’s really a sexy little player.

Any opinions on any HDD players would be great, there’s a lot out there…

I’ve had a 20-gig Archos Jukebox Recorder for quite awhile now; it’s always been reliable, and physically it’s relatively compact–not nearly on the iPod level, but few things with that storage capacity are.

However, it’s also heavy enough to use as a blunt weapon if need be, which may or may not be a concern.

As Crusoe said, the DRM only becomes an issue with music that you purchase using Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Any CDs you rip yourself will have no DRM whatsoever.

Music that’s purchased from the iTunes Music Store can only be played on computers that are registered to be able to play it. You can register each song with up to 3 computers (Mac or PC). You can play the music on any number of iPods. You can also burn the music to CDs to listen to the music that way. (And as some have pointed out, you could then re-rip the music files onto your computer, with no DRM and only a tiny loss in sound quality.)

I was under the impression that the iPod was a one way street - it can only download songs from a computer - you can’t then take all those files and upload them to another computer (in my case my work one).

I’d like to be able to consolidate my music on my home machine, and that involves grabbing a decent amount of MP3s from my work one (6 GB or so) and copying them to my home machine’s hard drive.

Is this possible with an iPod?

This is true for most MP3 players. Last I checked, Archos is the only exception. I believe this is a voluntary restriction placed by the designers to keep the record companies happy (or at least, no more angry than they already are). Also, I’ve heard of hacks that allow you to bypass this restriction but I don’t know anything about that.

If it’s a one-time transfer, you could do it. There are two ways to access the iPod: using a propriatory music file manager (iTunes or MusicMatch Jukebox), or simply accessing it as an external hard drive. Using the latter method you can copy any files to and from the iPod, but the iPod does not recognize the files as music files and will not play them back. So what you have to do is:
[li]Connect iPod to office computer[/li][li]Access iPod as external hard drive, and copy mp3 files from office computer to iPod[/li][li]Connect iPod to home computer[/li][li]Access iPod as external hard drive, and copy mp3 files from iPod to home computer.[/li][li]Start iTunes on home computer and import newly copied mp3 files into the music library[/li][li]Let iTunes connect to the iPod and transfer mp3 files to the iPod[/li][/ul]

Adding to what scr4 says, there are also freeware programs for both Mac and Windows that allow you to bypass the built-in limitations and freely copy music to and from your iPod. As long as you are using these programs to copy music you own to another computer for your own use, you may be bypassing Apple’s copy-protection scheme, but you’re not breaking any laws. One for Windows is PodUtil. The one I use on my Mac is iPod Access. These should allow you to do what you want to do.

If I load MP3s onto my iPod via iTunes, I can copy the MP3 files onto a PC and listen to them quite happily while still being able to listen to them on the iPod. If you did it the other way (copy MP3s onto the iPod outside of iTunes/MusicMatch/etc) then it might not work, but I’ve had no problems this way round.

fyi, Apple is planning an event this friday… they are supposed to be giving discounts on music related items.

There are also rumors of a new low end iPod… so maybe they will drop the prices of the high end ones???


Just as an experiment, I’m going to pretend to replace my iPod battery with one ordered from here: http://

Start the clock. 0:00

Let me get my iPod case disassembly tool out. If it looks just like a library card, well, that’s 'cause that’s what it is.

rummaging through wallet

Hey! I’ve got enough punches for a free burrito at Taco Del Mar!

more rummaging. gotta throw some ATM slips away. they don’t actually count as money.

Here we go. Card, ready. iPod, ready. Elapsed time 0:20

First I open the case by the headphone jack and the hold switch and then I work my way along the left side and then along the right side. Pop! Back of case now off. Time: 0:50

Here’s the battery. It’s a little sticky on the backside so pull gently, then tug on the connector. Battery out. 1:15

Now I pretend that the old battery is the new batteryand reverse the last two steps. 1:40

Slap the back of the case on and power up iPod. Success!

Total time. 2:10
Cost: 49.00 hypothetical dollars plus shipping.

That guy’s already been dismissed around the Mac community as a kook – not only will Apple replace your iPod battery for $99, not only can you buy your own replacable battery for $50, but most folks’ iPod batteries last far more than 18 months. Slashdot and Ars Technica have reports from other owners roundly dinging this guy for being a putz.