Tell me about iPods

Look let me get this out of the way: I totally get that I might well have titled this “What is this new personal computer or “PC” I hear so much about? Or “Beta or VHS where stand you on the ongoing debate?” In short, I understand that me asking these questions in June 2005 is preposterous.

All I can say is that when Apple introduced the iPod in 2001 I ignored it as trendy and tried to continue to in that vein, long after it was completely apparent that I had been LOUD wrong. Now I am hopelessly clueless and out of touch - and it is accelerating. I do download music (from iTunes) but I burn CD’s for my discman or car CD player. So, uh, help please.

Most of the iPods I see new are circa $250 or so. Is this a reasonable price? Is it best to buy them from the Apple store? If not, where do/would you go? Is there any sense in looking at used iPods? If so, what features must I have?

I have a fairly extensive iTunes library - is there any sense at looking at other MP3 players (i.e. will they “take“ my iTunes music)? If so, which ones do you suggest? Where would you buy them?

Speaking like you would to a 6 year old (or man who landed here from the 1850‘s), Can you explain a bit about Podcasting? I heard (I think) that you can download some Sirius satellite radio programming and listen to it in an iPod … is this right? How does that work?

I would like to thank you folks for teaching me about this and your other wonders … like your fancy indoor plumbing.

Here’s a brief tidbit that might get lost in the iPod vs. every other MP3 player debate that may crop up here. iTunes will work with many (lots?) of other MP3 players besides the iPod. However, if you’ve actually purchased music from Apple, those files will only play on an iPod unless you’re willing to do lots of hoop-jumping-through.

iPods range from $99 to $449. The best place to compare features would probably be the Apple Store online. Or maybe look through the excellent Buyer’s Guide at iPodLounge.

Pork Rind got the main point… you’ll have a hard time using anything BUT an iPod if you bought music via the iTunes Music Store. Sure, you could do it, but it’ll be kind of a hassle.

If your collection is extensive, as you say it is, I’d avoid the iPod Shuffle and iPod Mini and head straight into a standard iPod in a 20 or 40 gig variety. There’s also the Photo ones with a color screen, although if you’re only looking for music, that’s an extra cost for not a lot of added functionality.

Podcasting is when people do an audio show and put it up in a format easy to throw onto an MP3 player. I can’t comment on Sirius content being Podcast from anywhere, but I wouldn’t doubt it. My favorite Podcast is TWiT(This Week in Tech) performed by the old TechTV crew, talking about various technology stuff that happened over the week. Engadget and various other blog sites also have Podcasts, as do more “alternative” blog sites that don’t get a lot of traffic or listeners. It’s still a cool thing to get into, both for the blogger and listener. You certainly don’t need an iPod to listen to Podcasts… a computer or any other MP3 player will due.

Note that the next iteration if the iTunes program (available soon?) will have built-in support for Podcasts. You can add them to your library, and set them to sync with your iPod so new 'casts are downloaded when they’re available.

Just to clarify, the crux of the problem is Itune’s download format. When you download from Itunes you get AAC files – that is, not actually mp3 files. The ipod supports MP3, WMA, WMV, AAC audible, and Apple Lossless. Most every other mp3 player only supports mp3. wma and wmv. (flac?)

And to get right down to it, the problem isn’t the AAC format (also known as MP4), as there are a few other players that can play those files. The problem is the ‘copy protection’ (a DRM scheme called Fairplay) that Apple inserts into those AAC files to make sure that only authorized people can listen to the music. That’s what no one else has licensed yet.

I, too, am in the market for a 20 gig iPod for my hubby. What is this I’ve heard about batteries not being replaceable? Is that still true with the 4th Generation 20 gig? The best deal I’ve found is $279.99 from Costco, will their incredible unconditional guarantee. Any thoughts?

Whups, you’re right.

What other mp3 players play AAC? I did a quick look at the zen micro, iriver H10 and rio carbon. I didn’t see any aac support.

You can replace them(aftermarkets are around 30 dollars). It’ll just void the warranty.

Costco’s unconditional warranty is only 6 months on electronics IIRC.

Some of the online music sites offer discounts on iPods and other MP3 players. If you’ll be buying music from one of them, check out their deals. iPod batteries are replaceable for $99, though I believe you have to send it back to Apple, meaning you’ll be without your iPod for a few days.

If you’re using a PC, you might want to think about going with the ipod +hp, or the hPod. iPods, and hPods are the same. Both are manufatured by Apple, but the hPod comes formatted for windows. Here’s some information on it.

If you do decide to buy a used iPod, make sure you buy one from the newest generation. The newest iPods have four more hours of battery life per charge. Here’s some information on telling the difference between the generations.

I don’t know why anyone uses any iPod bigger and more expensive than the Shuffle. It holds 120-180 songs (say 8 hours) and the battery lasts me at least 2 days between charges (listening maybe 4 hours a day). Assuming you get to the PC you use to refill and recharge it every couple of days there’s no point in anything fancier, and being all electronic it never skips, doesn’t get damaged if you drop it, and is so light and small it never gets in the way at all.

I suppose the one downside is there’s no display, but I know my music well enough not to have to be told what I’m listening to.

Because we don’t like listening to the same 100 songs.

Did you miss the bit about refiling every couple of days, ie before you’ve run through all the songs? True, that does assume you don’t have the thing on every waking minute.

If it makes you feel any better, I was thinking about starting the exact same thread. So there’s at lest two of us.

Also assumes you don’t mind picking out a new playlist every couple days. If I had an iPod[sup]*[/sup], I’d rather just copy all my music over and forget about it until I acquired some more.

Speaking of playlists, I can’t imagine it’d be easy to choose a particular song or album without having a display.

([sup]*[/sup] which might someday happen if my MP3 CD player breaks, or if Apple gives up their ridiculous vendor lock-in scheme)

Erm, so was I. I was figuring, ignore it and it will go away…but dammit, they’re now cheap and ubiquitous so I have to actually work out how the little things work.
And, um, iTunes? So there’s, like, a website you can go to and download songs onto a CD-R in your computer’s CD-drive?..Jeez I’m a Luddite.

That takes effort. :slight_smile:

I think a lot of the no-name players from China will play AAC now. I know for sure that my phone (Audiovox SMT5600) plays them. I googled and found a couple others, but it’s clearly not common amongst the well known brands yet. Also I’ve seen support for unprotected AAC files built into some of the home streaming deals like the Roku Soundbridge.

What’s this “hassle” people keep talking about?

  1. Burn songs to CD.
  2. Import songs back in as MP3, not AAC.
  3. Done.

I suppose if you have thousands of songs in AAC you could be busy for a while…

I, too, ignored the iPod for quite a while and didn’t buy one until I started using iTunes. Being able to download just one or two favorite songs from an album is what got me hooked. As long as iTunes is your primary repository of downloaded music I don’t see much of a reason to get anything but an iPod.

I have a 4gb mini. When I first bought it and started filling it up with what I thought I’d want on it I thought I should have gotten the 20gb one.

But once I started using it regularly and learning what I did and didn’t like to have on it, I starting deleting this and adding that and now I’m perfectly happy with it. I have 600-something songs on it at any given time, including dozens of extended classical pieces and extended jams.

I found that if you select iTunes to be your default mp3 player on your computer, once you download something not through iTunes, like a live show from Live Music Archive, and start to play it, it pops into your iTunes library. So now I have a whole bunch of my favorite Grateful Dead concerts on my iPod. I’m a happy guy now.

I like having the display and the shuffle function is terrific. I like the size of the mini, too. I get nowhere near the advertised battery life out of it, but I also use headphones instead of ear buds, so I have it pretty loud. There’s always something around that can charge it up - car, computer, outlet - so it’s not that big a deal to keep it charged.