MP3 Player

I’ve never had one, and am looking to get one for Christmas. Are iPod Touches the clear choice at the moment? I’m guessing no one else has the all the extras like wireless internet browser and app support.

My first priority for a device is music and video playing. So it has to be decent at that. The only concern I have with the iPod Touch is having to convert all the DVDs and CDs I’ve ripped to something else, as long as that is simple I think it’s a pretty clear choice (I’m terrible with disks, download services like Steam have been a godsend.) If that’s not the case I was thinking about going for either an Archos or Cowon. But I’m not sure they have the ability to browse the web from my bed and all that.

Basically, is the iPod Touch still relevant with the iPhone* and iPad coming out? And are the hassles of iTunes outweighed by the apps and web options?

*Especially as this has more RAM.

I’ve had an iPod for years now and have been using a 2nd gen Touch for two years. I love it - I probably use it more than any other computer I’ve ever owned. Being able to browse the web from anywhere with a wifi hotspot is great (downside is that I don’t read books any more because I end up reading the internet in bed or playing games).

Someone’s going to jump in any moment now to contradict me but iTunes isn’t that much of a hassle. You don’t even have to use it as your primary music organiser - just set it so that it doesn’t keep your media folders organised and doesn’t copy your music to its own folder. That way you can use it to manage the music on your iPod Touch (or iPhone if you go down that road) and continue using whatever you were previously using as your main music player/manager.

If you ripped your CDs to MP3 then you don’t really have a problem. Anything else and you’ll have to reconvert. As for DVDs, unless you ripped them to simple profile MPEG4 then the chances are that you’ll have to re-rip or re-transcode them. I’d recommend using Handbrake to rip to MPEG4 from here on in regardless of what you actually end up buying since pretty much anything will play MPEG4 these days. Bear in mind that there are options for transcoding on the fly (and if you get in quick enough you might be able to grab the VLC app from the store -that’ll play almost anything other than network streams).

In terms of whether or not you should go for an iPod touch or an iPhone (or something else), that depends on you really. 3 do the iPhone 4 16GB on 24-month contract for €139/€40 p.m. or €29/€60 p.m.; an 18-month contract will cost you €209/€40 p.m. or €109/€60 p.m. You could opt for PAYG but then the cost of the phone isn’t subsidised and it’ll cost you €500+. Obviously the iPod would be a once-off cost and you presumably already have a phone. ‘All’ you’re missing out on by opting for a Touch over an iPhone is ubiquitous internet and location-based services.

As for other options, John Gruber is constantly bemoaning the fact that no one seems to offer an Android-based equivalent to the iPod touch. I’m not too hot on Archon or Cowen so I’m not sure what their offerings are like.

I love my iTouch and all but I’ll be honest … browsing the web on these devices is torture. If you’re thinking you’re going to be laying in bed and cruising around the web, get ready for a lot of awkward zooming and scrolling around trying to read things. It’s not a failure of the device, the screens are just small.

Great for music, great for apps, mediocre for web usage.

I think that’s a subjective thing Warren - I don’t mind it too much and being able to double-tap to quickly zoom in and out makes things easier. Bear in mind that regardless of whether Buceph goes for an iPhone or an iPod touch, the chances are he’ll be getting a Retina display.

That’s very true. I don’t have a retina display but from what I’ve seen they are way nicer.

I’ve used a Archos MP3 player, an iPod 5th gen, a Palm TX, and an iPod Touch 3rd generation.

Yes, the Touch is definitely the way to go. The big drawback to the iPhone is that there’s going to be a hefty monthly charge over what you’d use for a cell phone, assuming you want a cell phone. This is fine if you really want internet anywhere and no dependency on WiFi hotspots, but if all you really want is the device and perhaps browsing off your home network, the Touch makes a lot more sense.

The Touch is a pretty good browsing device for something so small. The Palm TX had browsing, but frankly it was completely unusable on any site not specifically formatted for mobile devices. While zooming and panning is sometimes inconvenient, depending on the site, the Touch really does handle any page, designed for mobile or not. In fact, on many sites I’ll switch from the Mobile version to the Desktop version because the mobile version is too limited, and I’m willing to zoom and pan in order to get the extra information. Amazon in particular. The Touch’s main problem as a browser is when you run into a page with text that’s hard-formatted and wide. You can zoom to text very easily, but it’s annoying if the text won’t fit into the window at a readable size.

I’ve experimented with movies on the 5th gen iPod, Palm TX, and Touch. The Touch handles video much, much better than the other two, but I find the small screen takes something out of action films. It’s fine for character dramas, but scenes like the Reaver chase in the Firefly pilot just lack drama on a screen that small.

Oh yeah, movies! I forgot about that. I watched Wall-E on my iTouch during my last long flight and while the screen was small it was definitely doable.

Thanks for the info. I’m pretty much decided, especially with Gus having experience of the Archos.

I’d use an iPhone and I would love the internet anywhere feature (although I might be tempted to go Android.) But I barely spend €20 every two months on my pay-as-you-go phone. And I couldn’t justify the increased cost when I’m being supported through a masters.

Dermot: I was looking at getting an Android phone or iPhone back when I thought I was going to get a job. Meteor have the best deals in Ireland if you plan on using mostly internet things. You can get the phone for €130, then a non-smartphone package with 50 mins, 50 texts, and 300 webtexts for €15 a month, and can then get an add on of €5 or €10 a month for 2gb and 10gb respectively. They don’t advertise it as a way of arranging your bill, but if you ask in one of the shops they’ll confirm you can do it. And it’s a much better option for someone who really only wants mobile internet and the odd call or text.

This is the same approach I take to my cell phone. I was on a conventional, monthly plan for a couple of years. I found the phone indispensable in certain situations, but I hardly used it most of the time. So I switched to prepaid, and now I’m shelling out $100 a year (about 75 euros), and I still don’t end up using all the time I pay for.

One caveat about movies: I’ve used a couple of DVD rippers, and I’ve had a persistent problem with audio synchronization. It’s really, really distracting if the sound is a half second ahead or behind the image. It didn’t always happen, so it may have been an issue with the laptop I was using to do the conversion.

I used to get that with an old PC. Tried it on a newer laptop with all the same settings and the rip was fine. I haven’t tried ripping anything on my new PC though. I read somewhere that it had something to do with the processor and processor load. I don’t know if that makes technical sense but it seemed to make sense to me. If I was ripping something on the PC I’d often be playing a game or doing something else on the computer, and my PC was old and only had a Pentium 4 processor. When I ripped on the laptop I left it alone, and it had a C2D processor.

I think this is true, but from a technical standpoint it feels ridiculous. From the conversion software’s point of view, it should just be a data stream, and timing shouldn’t come into it. If the load is heavy, it should just take longer, not affect the result. Yet it does appear to be a real effect, because I’ve got some movies that did convert correctly, and I believe I encoded them on my desktop at the time. I was doing stuff side-by-side to reduce time. I was also probably doing stuff on the desktop, I don’t remember anymore.

Also, Tipard’s Blu Ray to iPhone / iPod converter is free until Dec 3rd.

EDIT: … and it gives me the audio issues I mentioned earlier. On a I7-950 based machine. Pfeh.

Just to throw a neckbeard opinion out there, don’t get an iTouch if you care about using FLAC or OGG. Otherwise, get the iTouch.

My neck is insufficiently hairy. What do those acronyms mean?

Also, since this thread indirectly prompted me to rip movies for my Touch again: DVD Fab + Handbrake works much, much better than the Tipard or Imtoo converters I used before. No sound issues at all after conversion from Blu Ray, and Handbrake actually uses the full capabilities of the multi-core processor.

FLAC is a lossless codec, so it produces large files that are the same quality as the source file. FLAC is mostly of interest to people who worry about the artefacts introduced by lossy compression (even at high bit-rates) which is fair enough. Doesn’t bother me and I find it hard to justify on a device with limited storage like an iPhone/Touch.

Ogg is a lossy codec, similar to MP3 and MPEG4 audio (AAC, the codec that Zylon thinks is proprietary to Apple). Both Ogg and FLAC are open and royalty-free, unlike MP3 and AAC but aren’t supported by Apple’s products. Depending on who you talk to, Ogg is either more or less on par with AAC and is largely of interest to people who lose sleep over their media being encoded in a format that will somehow magically stop working if the licensors find a way to shut down all of the open source implementations that are out in the wild.

So, for someone who does care about FLAC, what player should I get? I’ve been looking at either the Sansa Vuze or the Sansa Clip, but does the hivemind know of better options?

Both the Fuze and Clip are great. The only reason I don’t use one anymore is because they don’t have a dedicated line-out for feeding an amp. I’m using a chinese player (Teclast T51) that I do like for my needs, but wouldn’t really recommend it unless you’re willing to sacrifice size and user-friendliness for sound quality.

The new iPod Touch devices with the retina display are awesome for web surfing. Everything is super sharp and much more readable.

I’m on my 2nd iPod Touch, and yea, they are the way to go. The new 4th generation devices are significant upgrades over the old ones, as well. This is a good time to buy.

Apple does support a lossless codec, though.

I know, that’s why I specified FLAC and not simply lossless. For me it’s not really a matter of “open” so much as that I’m already entrenched (and hate iTunes with the fury of a million suns).

iTunes is mostly not that bad. I did some struggling with it today concerning transferring video to my iPod Touch, but it turned out to be two separate issues: it’s slow to acknowledge that you’ve checked a video for transfer, and it absolutely refuses to transfer videos which are larger than it believes the device can play, but doesn’t tell you why it’s not responding. No error message, just a failure to transfer.

It’d be nicer if Apple treated the iPod like a USB drive, which is how the Archos worked, but the device sure is nice in a lot of other ways, if you want anything more than just audio playback. At this point, it’s my primary eBook reader, the music capability is really secondary compared to its capabilities as very compact computer.