Should I buy an MP3 jukebox? If so, what kind?

I did some research this weekend on the various MP3 jukebox alternatives, from Archos, Creative Labs, Rio, etc. The idea of getting my entire CD collection into one portable device is really attractive, and Consumer Reports this month reviews several models favorably. But the reviews I read on CNET give me pause - even accounting for reporting bias, there seem to be an awful lot of quality-control issues on all of the well-known models. I’m also really not looking forward to having to learn somebody else’s proprietary software for creating playback lists, etc. RealOne, which I use for ripping my CDs, only seems to work with a few models - none of the the 10 or 20GB monsters that make me drool.

What do the tech-savvy Teeming Millions recommend?

OH, and this is not a place for discussing the Ipod, the superiority of the OS X for media (which I take as a given), or Mac v. Win issues.

Yes, the Ipod is very pretty and works very well. But it’s for Mac. I do not own a Mac, and am unlikely ever to own a Mac, because my writing must be in Word. Do not try to persuade me that converting from Word for Mac to Word for Windows is flawless. It’s software, therefore it isn’t; and the time it won’t work is when I have four articles all on deadline.

In sort: Stuff it, Mac users. Play with your pretty toy all you want while the rest of us try to get some work done! :wink:

Ya don’t have to tell all us Mac users to stuff it, you know. Mac user doesn’t always equal Mac zealot. Not all of us try to foist Apple products on others.

And it’s called the iPod, not Ipod.

Anyway, I think you’re talking about players where you download the mp3 to the player itself. I was going to recommend the Rio Volt, but it’s a CD-type player, and I assume that that’s not what you’re looking for.

      • A few questions for yourself:
  1. How much music/time do you want to bring along, minimum?
  2. How much time can you tolerate it requiring to transfer music to the portable media?
  3. Is the media removable, available separately, and how’s it priced? Will you want any?
  4. How do you use it? Will you want to load literally everything you own just once, or do you occasionally rearrange or rotate through with a smaller assortment of songs?

    Minidisc is a pretty good deal, IMO. The only big features it lacked were high-speed transfer and data/title transfer. New Sony models have high-speed transfer, and title info isn’t as important with the limitations of a single MD’s capacity. A MD only holds 1, 2 or 4 hours depending on compression/quality, but it only costs $2. MD recorders can record off a mic in hi-fi, stand-alone. - DougC

Audrey, bless you, you’re one of the very few Mac users who doesn’t turn into an Up With Steve Jobs! cheerleader. :smiley:

And DougC, to answer your (very valid) questions:

  1. I want never to have to use my CDs again. They’re heavy and fragile.

  2. I don’t care how long it takes to transfer data. I figure, one massive transfer overnight when I first buy the thing, then periodic small transfers after that.

  3. The model is that I buy a new CD, rip it into the computer, then copy the tracks out onto the jukebox. I then put the CD in a safe place, essentially treating it as if it were a software CDrom (which, after all, is what it really is).

  4. The rearrangement and rotation is important, and that’s my worry about this proprietary software nonsence. I want the jukebox to retain lots of interesting playlists, which I can scroll through and choose to suit my mood. Apparently some jukeboxes don’t save your playlists, which strikes me as a horror.

Hey, don’t get snippy with us just because you picked an inferior system. :smiley:

I created a DVD for my wife today; what did you do? (And no, “reinstalling Windows” doesn’t count :wink: ).

As someone who treats their CD library better than most people treat their children in the nursery, I have a suggestion:

Burn custom playlists onto 50 to 75 track DVD-R’s. (or even 80 minute Audio CD-Rs). I find that unless you have a very static taste in seques & styles, odds are most playlists you make on a PC or jukebox become stale after a few listens thru anyway. Blank media is cheap enough and there are alot of portable multi-disc capacity players out there.

Well, not to beat a dead horse, but there’s third-party software that will allow a PC with a FireWire port to connect to an iPod. The actual, honest-to-goodness, from-Apple version is reportedly in the works, but for now, there’s XPlay.

Aren’t DVD-Rs expensive, like $5 each? And if I’m not mistaken, they also require a special burner. So I don’t think burning tracks to a DVD-R is a practial solution. Besides, I don’t get the impression OxyMoron wants a removable-disc type player-- he’s thinking more of a Rio Riot or Rio One than a Rio Volt.

      • I bought mine specifically to allow hi-fi portable recording (Sony MZR700DPC). DAT’s and (the) portable audio-CD-R were far more expensive.
  1. What I meant was, how much music do you insist on having stored on portable media? 2 hours? 5 hours? 10 hours? 100 hours?
  2. You probably do care how long it takes to transfer data. A MD without high-speed transfer can only transfer in real-time: that means that recording 30 minutes of music onto a MD actually takes 30 minutes. You can play a MD out of order easily, but making one can take a while. In real-time transfer, you can use whatever media player software you want, it doesn’t even come with any but then it also doesn’t/won’t engage any present or future copy-protection schemes: if you can hear it, you can record it. —I do not know what limitations the high-speed transfer software of the new units has, if any. You could check the newsgroups on that one…
  3. What I meant here was, many solid-state MP3 players don’t support any removable media (memory cards), but even for the ones that do, memory cards are priced extremely high for the additional capacity they provide. Other HD music units like the iSpud are non-removable, but provide so much room that they assume you won’t easily fill it up. MD’s don’t have lots of space per disk, but by nature are removable and fairly cheap.
  4. What I meant here was, there is a tremendous convenience factor involved in having a device that has enough capacity to store all your music. You could record all your music onto MD’s or MP3-CD’s but with a HD unit, you never have to worry about which disks you grabbed, because there’s only one, it’s non-removable, and everything’s on it. (I do wonder how much CD-quality music they hold, though, -320Kb/sec MP3, f’r instance… um, anybody?) - DougC

Let me try answering your questions again.

That means no minidisks, either, which to my mind is just a shrunken CD.

As I understand, most jukeboxes use a USB cable, which is slow for massive transfers but acceptable on a day-to-day basis. Note that I used the term “jukebox” intentionally, since that seems to be the industry’s word for what is in essence a portable hard drive. It’s actually more accurate, since the Riot is a jukebox that uses a hard drive but can’t be partitioned, and thus can’t take data, whereas the Archos and Creative Labs models do.

There’s no need for removable media under this model.

This is the major hesitation with jukeboxes. I don’t know how well they save playlists; some reviews I read said certain models don’t. But I’m not sure that’s correct, since many of the reviews (even those that were favorable overall) criticized the software and the manuals that come with these suckers, so it may be that the software does save playlists but it’s too damn difficult to figure out how.

I’m also looking for an mp3 ‘jukebox’, and based on reviews and talking with other people, the iPod does seem an excellent choice…if ungodly expensive. I have a laptop (with docking station/ port replicator) running Windows…but I don’t have a FireWire port. So, what exactly is a FireWire, is it feasible/ possible to get one, or should I stick to burning CD’s for my Discman?

The way I see it is that there are no options that are particularly good. The iPod seems to have a lot of the features, but the cost is too high, and most of the other models that have larger capacities use 2.5" hard drives which are larger than the iPod’s, thus making it impossible for them to beat the iPod’s size.

I suppose your best bet would be to go for Creative’s new Jukebox 3. It’s pretty impressive, considering it has Firewire, USB, 20 GB capacity (possibly more in later versions), 11 or 22 hour battery life (with optional second battery) and a plethora of inputs and outputs. Sounds nice, but of course it’s gonna be big and heavy compared to other models (except the older jukeboxes). Another downside is that the old jukebox had a long load time and poor/slow interface. This should be fixed, but we’ll have to wait till the jukebox 3 is actually out. Lastly, creative’s software isn’t the best.

Personally, I’m gonna wait till there’s a 20 GB, 10+ hour, Firewire enabled, iPod-sized clone available for the PC with a quality interface and software for $3-400. It would be nice to have OGG Vorbis support too. I might have to wait for a while, but that’s fine with me.

On a side note, maybe you might want to look in to using something else like LAME to encode your MP3s. I’m not sure of the quality of RealOne’s encoding, but Real’s software in general seems to be pretty crappy. The encoder makes a difference-192kbps with the Xing encoder sounds much worse than 192 kbps with LAME. Let your ears be the final judge.

Hoo boy. Adding FireWire to your laptop, plus the cost of Windows software, plus the cost of the iPod itself…I hate to say, but that kinda pushes it into the realm of unreasonability. Unless, of course, you’ll be using the FireWire for other things as well. Plus, I don’t know that a third party laptop FireWire adapter would necessarily supply the power that the iPod needs.

FireWire is just another way to plug stuff into your computer. It is most useful for high-speed, high-capacity applications, more like hard drives and digital video cameras and less like printers. It has some major pluses over other interfaces. For one, the cables are simple little six-wire jobs with no thumbscrews, like our four-wire cousin USB. For another, FireWire is hot-pluggable and -disconnectable, just like USB. But unlike USB, the transfer capacity of FireWire is 400 megabits per second, with plans to go as high as 1.2 gigabits per second. Filling up the 5 GB iPod takes about 20 minutes. A MP3 jukebox similarly connected to USB would take…well, I’ve heard different estimates. Probably about 6 hours.

Well… 100, 200, or 400 megabits per second. Few pieces of technology go past that first level. But it’s still a good sight faster than USB.

The nearest is the latest Archos Jukebox, with 10 gigs of space and a USB 2 connection. Best part? Costs just over $200. 'Course, you need a USB 2.0 card… but use the extra cash you save to spend $100 on a USB2/Firewire card (two of each port).

Funny this thread should revive itself now. On Saturday, I placed an order for a Nomad 3 jukebox, as recommended above. For $356 (including tax & shipping) I get 20 mb of space, much improved software interface, vastly increased battery life, all in a less pretty but more robust body than the i-pod. Oh, and a lower price per mb - the Ipod’s running about the same $$ for 5 mb.

The Archos had been in the lead until I read CNET’s review of the Nomad 3, which touted the interface. Even positive Archos reviews noted its software was problematic. Since the 20 mb Archos was running around $325 anyway, I figured the extra $30 would be well worth it.

Firewire was completely irrelevant to my decision, because I’m only going to be transferring enormo-data once - when I first get it. That can percolate along one afternoon or overnight.

My only concern is how long I’m going to have to wait for it! It’s not totally clear whether my order went through while the seller still had it in stock. But honestly, if it’s back ordered that just gives me more time to rip my CD collection.

Thanks, Max. I had a feeling such a setup would be unrealistic for me, so thanks for the confirmation.

Are there any sites people can recommend for reveiws? I’m going to look at Cnet, seeing it mentioned here; I’ve read Amazon’s reviews (the Archos reviews were not positive, to put it mildly).

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Or, you could buy a Mac now with an iPod and get $100 off.

(Or as someone deviously suggested, buy the Mac and the iPod, photocopy the UPC for the Mac, return it, then send in the stuff to Apple for the $100 rebate…)