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Passions Fly Over iPod Essay

Wow. I seem to have touched a nerve with the Sunday story about my divided feelings on the iPod. I got many responses, mostly from tech-savvy individuals who at times lambasted me for not mentioning some relatively easy fixes to my problems.

One reader wrote, "You do know that you can burn CDs from the music you purchased on the iTunes Store, and then add them to the pile of your other existing CDs if you want to bring them into another MP3 player, don't you?"

Yes, I do. I simply don't have the desire to convert files all the time. But it's worth mentioning, for those who are also concerned about losing access to their music in case their computer crashes -- it makes it easier to recover all your music.

A lot of other readers seemed to take issue with my iPod battery critique, saying you can either buy refurbished iPods from Apple (with a warranty, even) or replacement batteries from the iPod site. It so happens that my iPod's earbud socket broke the same time it ran out of battery life, so it wouldn't have addressed my issue, but here's another reader's advice:

"Take your old iPod to Apple and get a new battery installed for $50. There are many 3rd party vendors that will do the same. Try Also, a little known fact is that you can take your old iPod to the Apple Store and get a 10% discount on a new one. Not much, but at least it is something."

Although no one mentioned this, you can also buy used iPods at a discount from Craigslist or EBay. Some of them even come with the seller's music collection which, if your tastes match, could be a big bonus.

Yet another reader mentioned that, had I had the foresight, I could have gotten an extended warranty from Apple, which would have saved me some grief and money. Also true. (But don't you wish you didn't have to spend more money to make sure what you bought holds its value?)

Also, I probably erred when I said that having the iPod Shuffle means you can't select your songs. As one irate reader pointed out, it does have two settings -- one that allows you to listen straight through the playlist, and one that randomly shuffles. My point was that, unlike the other iPods, with the Shuffle you can't actually see what's playing, and you can't shift between playlists or albums or genres.

My toughest critics appear to be the people who have far more technical knowledge than I have. It's very true that if you dig more than two layers below the surface, much of our consumer IT woes are fixable. Alas, when it comes to fixing things, I'm not a digger. In fact, in my experience most people who read The Post aren't like that. We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best.

Thanks to the readers for some very good insight!

By Yuki Noguchi  |  October 23, 2006; 2:00 PM ET  | Category:  Yuki Noguchi
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

If you aren't interested in learning how your machines work, you won't be able to get your money's worth from them, either. It's one thing to not know how to fix something like an iPod, that's what Google is for; but it's another thing to be so utterly wasteful of your money, uneducated in your consumption, and unaware of the thousands of collective hours people have contributed to making solutions readily available and easy to understand.

Knowing this, how you can suggest that 'most people who read the Post' are as unresourceful and lazy as you seem to be is beyond me.

Posted by: boink | October 23, 2006 1:31 PM

What many "techies" don't get--and most especially if they happen to be fans of a particular product/service/company--is that the problem is not so much that something can be fixed by the end-user, but that it NEEDS to be fixed at all.
No one would lambast the author if she'd written about commensurate problems with a new car. No one would say--"sew it yourself"--had seams on a brand-new pair of jeans started coming undone.

There has been an increasing lack of consumer care amongst tech companies--there is no reason for people to put up with it. The more people do put up with it, the less those companies will offer.

It is not difficult to offer products and services that are complete and finished. It is not difficult to offer good service and features that are useful to the consumer. But if a company is not going to do it willingly, there is no reason on the planet to support that company, because if you don't make them, they certainly aren't going to suddenly turn around and offer it out of the kindness of their hearts.

Posted by: Engineering 101 | October 23, 2006 1:38 PM

I agree Apple tries to present itself a a "higher technology" computer that is easy to use vs the "complicted" windows software. The Ipod and Itunes is a closed sytem that does not recognize anything other than itself. As for the battery problem Apple should ahve stepped up to the plate and fixed the problem for free vs gounging people with inflated prices for the repair.

I can swap and Ipod battery in about 10 minutes and I paid 12.50 each for the 2 I purchased Apple could have earned a lot of goodwill for a small amount of $$

Posted by: Fred | October 23, 2006 1:39 PM

The feedback you have received from your readers leave me flat, although it's been a good opportunity to see just how brand-loyal people can be for white plastic computers.

for 400 dollars, I can buy a washing machine, or a modest TV, a decent bookshelf stereo system, or any number of household appliances. If any one of those items stopped working after 2 years, I would have a right to be upset. How is an iPod any different? I bought the extended warranty only to find that it didn't extend far enough. Of course I can get the battery replaced. Of course I can convert files via CDs. Of course I can do all the things suggested here. But why should I have to? If we agree that it's okay to lower our expectations for Apple products, what's next? Disposable dishwashers?

Too bad Maytag doesn't make iPods.

Incidently, my experience with iPod has ensured one thing. I will never by an Apple computer!

Posted by: Hootch Wilson | October 23, 2006 1:45 PM

I am an admitted Apple fanatic. My home has three Macs in it, and we're about to add a fourth (no iPods oddly enough...). However, I agree with about half of Noguchi's underlying problem - a consumer device like this should be easier to problem solve.

The easiest way for Apple to do this would be to provide a separate sheet of paper with all iPods with the url of the tech support site, which has FAQ's that solve most problems, and the Apple forums, which have a large community of helpful people who are more than willing to help others out with free tech support.

That being said, if you want to get the most out of any purchase - electronic or otherwise - you have to learn how to use it. This is the same for a frying pan as it is for an iPod. There are techniques to using anything that will make it more effective, and make it last longer.

But guys, don't be so hard on her - look how lovely she is...

Posted by: Canada Man | October 23, 2006 1:46 PM

You go girl. Most just plain folks want something that's easy and flexible. I don't have the time to learn all the intricacies that the techies have programmed.

Applittes seem to think that one company has come up with the holy grail of everything techie and can do no wrong.

Get a life.

Posted by: Buzz | October 23, 2006 1:46 PM

iPod users! iFart in your general direction!

Posted by: Mr. Snappy | October 23, 2006 1:56 PM

The reason you have to burn files to CD's to remove the DRM has little to do with Apple and a lot to do with record companies.

And I stand by my previous comment - I don't expect anyone to know how to fix their car or sew their pants, but they should know some basic maintenance, like what type of gas it needs, how often to change the oil, and how to wash an iron them. If you don't learn these basic facts, your going to have to buy cars and pants much more frequently, and I don't see how you could blame the companies for it. If you ignore the basics of how to take care of your purchases, you're going to be spending more money on repairs and replacement.

That being said, a lousy product is a lousy product, no matter how well it is taken care of. I don't have an iPod, but I have only heard good things from friends who have them (all PC users by the way). Inevitably, with any mass marketed product, there are going to be defective units, that can't be avoided.

The one thing I've never liked about Apple is the need to buy the Apple Care program - it's over priced, and we should be getting a warranty longer than 90 days with the product to begin with.

Posted by: One more thing | October 23, 2006 1:57 PM

My biggest problem is with the "Music Organizers" these devices use. My "Music Organizer" does not permit me to direct the sequence in which various tunes are played. I find it quite disconcerting when the 4th movement of a symphony plays before the second or first. Somehow this are of MP3 play technology needs help.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 2:00 PM

Well, I have had an ipod since generation 2. Listening to it ALMOST everyday for between 3 and 8 hours a day. Have I ever had a problem? No. Do I think that the ipod should be put up high and worshipped? Heck no. But the problems you described only seem to point out how lazy you are. If burning a disc in a certain format is to difficult for you...well, maybe you should just turn off your computer and not deal with any other file format issues that happen every day (i.e. quicktime/WMP etc). Further, any device that has a battery is very dependent on how you treat it. If you dont read/follow the rules on charging the battery you are going to ruin its life. Then you go on to complain that you can't pick the the music you want by a screen on the shuffle. Oh ffs, scan through till you get what you want, or just get a different kind of music player. You did notice that it didn't have a screen when it was bought right? And you actually read how it operated prior to purchase? If not, I feel no sorrow for your ignorance.

Posted by: blerb | October 23, 2006 2:02 PM

The biggest problem with the iPod and iTunes is the DRM which the record companies and the RIAA have forced Apple to use in order to sell the music online. Until we all stand up and refuse to purchase DRM'd music, we will have problem with interoperability. The terms forced on Apple by the record companies is the reason that you can only use purchased music on 5 devices and the reason you can only sync 1 iPod with a particular computer.

Posted by: Troy | October 23, 2006 2:04 PM

The simple way to put this: Why does it cost more to change the battery in your iPod than the labour to change the battery in your car?

Posted by: shepd | October 23, 2006 2:04 PM

Buzz...To say people who don't know how most technology works to a somewhat in depth level don't have lives maybe a bit far. I mean a large chunk of people who get iPods end up with 3 or 4 cd's worth of songs, yet they did not even know that other mp3 players even existed. Things like that are pretty sad, as 5 or 10 minutes on the net or chatting with a sales rep could open your doors to saving you hundreds of dollars or getting you a product you may like even more.
But at the same time, everyone can't know everything. Some people know of very practical every day things, some people know how technological devices work inside out. But more people need to start walking toward the middle ground in my opinion, and at least spend a LITTLE time on the net or somewhere to learn a little about problems they have, and solutions as well. With the age of the net, it is easier than ever too!

Posted by: Keth | October 23, 2006 2:05 PM

Here is yet another Post writer writing about technology that does not have a strong technical background. Can the Post please hire a writer with real technical knowledge? Is this too much to ask?

Posted by: Troy | October 23, 2006 2:06 PM

"Incidently, my experience with iPod has ensured one thing. I will never by an Apple computer!"
Posted by: Hootch Wilson

So the PC that you use didn't take some learning and tweaking to clean when it was overcome with spyware and viruses? Everything you buy has a learning curve, if you aren't adept enough at it you can always go and get a walkman off of ebay. The ipod has some technical issues that arise not from engineering deficiencies but from technical issues that no company has overcome. First you are dealing with (on the non-nano and shuffle ipods) a hard drive that has moving parts in a confined space so getting that drive to last as long as it does is a step forward and second you are dealing with rechargeable batteries that die on everything; your cell phone, your cordless phone, the rechargeable batteries in your kids' toys, all of them die go bad and have to be replaced.
Buy a Zune, I am sure there won't be huge problems with both software and hardware on that, its made by microsoft so I am sure Zune software SP2 will fix everything.

Posted by: Turner | October 23, 2006 2:08 PM

Yuki writes:

"Alas, when it comes to fixing things, I'm not a digger. In fact, in my experience most people who read The Post aren't like that. We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best."

My response: As a Post writer, shouldn't you try a little harder to know more than the average Post reader about the subject of your column? "Unresourceful and lazy", as boink put it, is an apt description of your Sunday story. If you're going to write about technology, please put some real effort into it. Otherwise, the readers may wonder if your daddy had to pull some strings to get you this job.

Posted by: Not an Apple employee | October 23, 2006 2:11 PM

Many of the supposed tech gurus who are teasing you for not wanting to burn your files to a CD and then re-import them will someday realize that the music they bought from the iTunes Store and burned to a CD is not actually CD quality at all. This is because tracks you buy from the iTunes store are not only DRM protected, but also compressed.

So when someone starts selling full bit rate, uncompressed music, your critics will suddenly realize they are stuck with huge libraries of lower quality music, with no path for upgrade. This is because when you buy a song from iTunes, you don't really own the licence for that track, just the file itself. In other words, the recording companies will never give you a "credit" to upgrade. So buying from iTunes is much like buying a cassette tape just before the CD was invented.

My advice for now... Just buy the CD. Then at least you have a top quality (non DRM) protected master.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 2:12 PM

Face facts, the concept of a tech savvy Apple user is somewhat of an oximoron.

The general public are driven more by fashion than common sense. The iPod is a latecomer in the world of Mp3 players, yet Apple would have you convinced they invented the concept of portable digital music. To be honest, it smacks of the Xerox fiasco.

There's another option available, upgrade your mobile to an MS Windows powered Smartphone with a pack of 2Gb SD cards. You then have a portable digital music device, with the processing power of a laptop, a web browser, video support, games etc etc.

In fairness, the average mac user will whinge about 'ease of use' being critical to the computing and leisure lifestyle choices of a not-so-bold new generation.

What is a mac these days anyway, an Intel based Unix platform ? But they've been around for years, they're called PC's. So what is a mac then ?

Well, it's about as revolutionary a concept as Gnome or KDE.

Anyway, it could be worse, there's only one or two viruses floating around on ipods... thus far.

Posted by: MaxNormal | October 23, 2006 2:13 PM

I doubt that perfection exists in any complicated tech toy, be a car, a computer or an IPOD, but you have to admit Apple has changed the world of online music with this device and they have sold over 20 million of them and may double that in years to come. Yes, there are battery issues (or were) and yes there are quirks and some breakdowns, but what a genious product and idea that has revolutionized the whole category and company. I ask you, who has done better?

Posted by: doug ritter | October 23, 2006 2:14 PM

I support you. I use a Creative Labs Zen, and I couldn't be happier. Apple's technology is opaque and inflexible, and my girlfriend's IPod has crashed too many times for me to ever consider switching.

Posted by: Vince Mareino | October 23, 2006 2:14 PM

These are supposed to be "tech" people disagreeing with you?

People with technical knowledge know the Ipod plays overcompressed crap on teensy little headphones. The sound is so distorted that anyone who really *loves* their music, can't bear the poor quality on these devices. THAT'S the real problem with them. The cheapening of sound quality standards.

Posted by: LJ | October 23, 2006 2:15 PM

along the same lines, I wish someone would make an iPod sort of like the "toughbook" computers. The iPod's a great part of my life, and I wilk 3mi outside every day, rain or shine. Sometimes I trip, sometimes I drop my happens. Why can't apple realize that for $400 I should have something that can be dropped, is waterproof, and is guaranteed for at least 5 years? Damn you, Apple, for coming up with such a needed device and for building it like a delicate flower. Arggggh! This is the place for a competitor to swoop in an make the MP3 player we all need.

Posted by: don | October 23, 2006 2:24 PM

You want easy? You want "works every time"? You want inexpensive?

Buy a Walkman-style TAPE player and stop whining. If an iPod and its' techie nuances are too much to handle maybe you should go low-tech. My guees is most folks who complain about the "it needs to be fixed before sold" issue probably still have a VCR that flashes 12:00 all the time.

Posted by: The Dude | October 23, 2006 2:24 PM

Not An Apple Employee writes,

"Otherwise, the readers may wonder if your daddy had to pull some strings to get you this job."

Listen, it's ok to criticize an article, but responses like this border on hate. At best, it's totally out of line.

I don't understand why people think a technology writer should be more knowledgeable than the average user. I don't expect a food critic to be a chef. I don't expect a film critic to be a director. People who want very technical answers in any field can find them in specialized sources (i.e. online forums). I hope newspaper columns appeal to the 30-year-old secretary as much as they do to the 70-year-old grandma. If you've got an IT degree or even just a solid amount of knowledge, why do you care what the Washington Post says about the iPod?

Posted by: Matt | October 23, 2006 2:25 PM

If you really want to write an interesting article, write about how iTunes customers are buying HALF quality (compressed) music for FULL quality prices, and with a non upgradeable license.

Your supposed "iPod experts" sound clueless to this reality.

Posted by: CD buyer | October 23, 2006 2:25 PM

I'm still waiting before I buy a portable music system for on-the-go listening. The earbud thing is a step below what I would prefer, ie external speakers. Thanks Audiophile for the info on the "compression". The jury is still out for me . . .

Posted by: Music Lover | October 23, 2006 2:27 PM

you should've wrote an article about the evils of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and why the RIAA cartel get to screw with us. Don't blame Apple, they have to play nice with the Record Studios or they don't get to sell music to entice you to buy their neat little gadgets like iPods.

It could've easily been with a bunch of songs off of Yahoo's music store and some compatible player for those music files. Or Napster's store and its compatible players.

Posted by: phi | October 23, 2006 2:28 PM

I'll never buy an ipod because of my experience with Apple's computers. My first few computers were Macs, and then it dawned on me that had I had a PC, I could easily upgrade components and more without having to buy a whole new computer. Talk about a ripoff!

I liken it to my dependence on AOL in my first 6 months of accessing the internet, once I knew I could do the same stuff without having to be with AOL, I did the smart thing. Sure, macs and ipods may look cool or whatever, but please, they're both ripoffs in that you practically have to buy whole new machines to fix/upgrade a part. It's their business model.

Posted by: You | October 23, 2006 2:35 PM

Hello Apple...yes I want...., OK, OK I'll click 1 then 4 then 5 OK....yes hello, tech training?

Yes I bought an Apple Ipod I am not a Certified Consumer Repair person, sorry....Oh, I see, well sure I would like to sign-up for the extended Maint and repair Course....yeah, the 6 mos long, no prior experience...sure I understand you can't guarantee my success...OK I'll send you a $500 deposit - Certified Check, sure no problem.... and then I'll be on your waiting the way can you reccomend a good old fashioned stereo player while I'm waiting?

Posted by: Pumpkin Pi | October 23, 2006 2:42 PM

To LJ and CD Buyer:

All of the major digital music vendors (including the soon to come Zune store) sell compressed, DRM encoded files. And of course even the few legitimate stores selling MP3s are, by definition, selling highly compressed music files.

Your arguments regarding compressed, DRM laden digital music formats are in no way specific to the iPod or the iTunes Store, and your suggestion that they are, is disingenuous at best.

Don't confuse "techie" with "audiophile".

Posted by: ged | October 23, 2006 2:45 PM

Ipods seem very annoying.

For the same price as an Ipod shuffle I got a Creative Nano. Same memory, with a screen and it is accessable as a straight USB drive. The radio is actually decent too. I've never recorded from radio or the mic, but having extra features I don't care about for no extra cost really doesn't bug me.

Oh, and it drives old fashioned headphones just fine.

Posted by: pinbot | October 23, 2006 2:45 PM

So are there any download services that will let you buy full-compression tunes that can be copied onto a CD?

Posted by: Noob | October 23, 2006 2:46 PM

To Music Lover,

I'm not necessarily saying don't buy an iPod. In my opinion, the iPod is fine for what it's designed for, which is a portable audio player. Keep in mind that you could always load full bit rate (uncompressed) music onto your iPod, even though it's a bit overkill for the quality of iPod's hardware.

The real problem is with iTunes, not the iPod itself. When you buy your music from iTunes, you will simply never have the option of listening to that song at audiophile quality on other equipment, such as a nice quality home stereo. That is because your master source is compressed and DRM protected. Invest in full quality music (and video) media because it will certainly outlast your latest latest electronics purchase.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 2:50 PM

For the guy who said he could replace an ipod battery in 10 minutes, see the link below.

Posted by: Diheedral | October 23, 2006 2:54 PM

Don writes "You want easy? You want "works every time"? You want inexpensive? Buy a Walkman-style TAPE player and stop whining. "

My question is when did quality products with life spans that went for decades not months go away?

I do not have an iPod because strangely enough the Radio (Newsflash: It is still relatively free) has plenty of choices for me to listen to. My CD collection can also fill in the gaps if I want to listen to a particular album or track at any given time.

The concept of spending $400 to be able to then buy music to listen to and replace my player about every 18 months is ludicrous. If they made a player that would last for ten years (batteries exempted) I would look into it.

Posted by: psdesertgeek | October 23, 2006 2:55 PM

To Noob,

Actually, you don't want full-compression, you want no-compression. Compression makes the file size smaller for download, but also makes the quality go down.

There are no uncompressed music download services that I know of at this point. The record companies are probably happy about this because they will profit when everyone comes back to "re-buy" the music they already bought from iTunes, and the like.

That is why I still buy CDs. In that sense, we are in the same boat we were in 10 years ago.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 2:56 PM

Truly tech-savvy individuals would tell you there are better music players than iPods. Creative Labs and Samsung both make brilliant players, for about the same price as comparable iPods. Plus, you can use Creative players with subscription music services, which is great if you download more than ten songs a month and are afraid you won't keep a song very long. There are tons of other great players out there; a tech-savvy individual might use an iPod anyway, but would know that they're not always the best for every consumer.

To Noob: I'm assuming you mean uncompressed, not full-compressed? No store will do that because uncompressed files are just too large. It'd take too long to download. If I've misunderstood you, I apologize.

Posted by: The world doesn't stop at iPods | October 23, 2006 2:57 PM

Correction - It was The Dude that I was quoting

Posted by: psdesertgeek | October 23, 2006 2:57 PM

Many of the responses revolve around comparisons to other appliances. Unfortunately every one of those comparisons is made to a single-function appliance like a TV, a car etc.
Following that logic there would be a separate "appliance" for every function that a computer performs, like word processing, web browsing, etc.
Ironically, products which have actually been developed along those lines, (dedicated word processors, web browsing "boxes" that everyone's grandmother can use etc), have all failed in the marketplace due to lack of features! Even single-purpose devices like dish-washers and clothes washing machines have an upper limit to the number of functions they can have before consumers begin complaining that they are too difficult to use.
The real problem is the interface. We can imagine any number of features and functions far more easily than they can be implemented in our 5-sense limited world. Or to put it more simply, machines can't read our minds. (This is without even getting into the fact that most engineers don't think like normal people :).
So as long we remain human, we will have problems with our technology...

Posted by: Itwerx | October 23, 2006 2:57 PM

To ged

We are in violent agreement. I don't buy from any online music service for this very reason. They all use compression. iTunes is just the most prominent to iPod users.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 3:01 PM

"No store will do that because uncompressed files are just too large. It'd take too long to download."
-- Anon, 2006

"Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM!" -- Bill Gates, 1981

Posted by: Peter | October 23, 2006 3:18 PM has inexpensive music. _You_ choose the compression level (uncompressed available for most recent music). It will work on any player, AND they have music software called "allTunes" that works like iTunes -- free 30 sec previews, etc.

Posted by: dirk | October 23, 2006 3:24 PM

The ipod is the AOL of mp3 players. Not great, but not bad. Good enough for most people.

Posted by: ipodambi | October 23, 2006 3:25 PM

You write in the article: " can also buy used iPods at a discount from Craigslist or EBay. Some of them even come with the seller's music collection which, if your tastes match, could be a big bonus."

It is also a serious crime, and you are being completely irresponsible by describing it as a 'bonus'. We're talking up to 10,000 counts of copyright infringement - for profit, no less. Sellers can be sued or jailed for this, and frankly they richly deserve to be, in my opinion.

You also don't mention that when you ship an iPod to apple to have the battery replaced, they send back not just a new battery, but a new iPod. THAT is a bonus.

Posted by: iPod giftee | October 23, 2006 3:31 PM

Thanks for the link Dirk. Good to know.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 3:31 PM

My toughest critics appear to be the people who have far more technical knowledge than I have. ... In fact, in my experience most people who read The Post aren't like that. We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best."

That's disappointing. One might think an IT column would be by leaders, by diggers, by innovators and power users... teaching the rest of us about the actual possibilities and limitations -- as well as, yes, the gotchas and the catches -- and not the PERCEIVED limitations.

Posted by: m | October 23, 2006 3:33 PM

I'm a pretty serious music listener. My home (2 channel) audio system cost almost as much as a sub-compact car, but my portable music flash player cost half what an iPod sells for. My IEMs cost more than the player, but I'd make that investment for any portable sound source.
I don't expect to get the same sound quality as my home system from my protable gear, but I also don't intend to pay Apple's outrageous fees for a severely DRM'd player and source material.
Listen to your favorite uncompressed music on a really good home audio setup, then compare your typical MP3 sound from iPod or similar products. No comparison. Apple has managed to market to a user group that doesn't know what good sound is. If the record companies have their way, this will be the norm from now on. I have to both commend and condemn Apple, Creative and other hardware manufacturers for their successful marketing and simultaneous degradation of sound quality.
I'll stick with FLAC or AAC from my CDs ripped to a non-DRM player. Too bad nodoby builds such a system off-the-shelf for the non-tech customers.

Posted by: Carbonman | October 23, 2006 3:34 PM

Dear m, i don't like your name, but i think i have a crush on you you r so hot and you r have a graet bod!

Posted by: hello, my name is...Apple Employee | October 23, 2006 3:43 PM

Ilove apple, I love mac, and most of all I love the ipod but do i love zac?
song by:jane
just 2 let u no i am getting married to zac the 3 on wednes day & i dont kno if i love him

Posted by: boinker | October 23, 2006 3:45 PM

hello my name is.. do you have a bf cause i think i love you

Posted by: bboinker | October 23, 2006 3:48 PM

boinker ilove you to do you want to go out

Posted by: hello my name is... | October 23, 2006 3:49 PM

Amen Carbonman,

It's common knowledge that Apple barley breaks even on their iTunes Music Store. The service exists mostly to drive demand for their hardware. And technically, the iPod is not totally DRM'd... it's mostly the media you buy for it.

If you're looking for a completely open, off the shelf system for your home, check out SlimDevices.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 3:50 PM

With three iPods (a 2G, a 3G and a Mini) and four Macs in our house, I qualify as an "Apple Fan."

I'm amazed by all the "problems" folks have. Kind of like buying shoes without knowing how to tie the shoelaces. You're going to trip someday. I guess that's how Velcro Shoes started.

My biggest issue with the pre-iPod iTunes was how to rip my 1,000+ CDs on a G3 and buy a large enough disk drive to hold it all.

What short memories we have!

Posted by: jon | October 23, 2006 3:51 PM

guys get over your selves this website is for techies only!

Posted by: hi | October 23, 2006 3:51 PM

Boink's comments are commendable in that they show he/she is an educated consumer.

Still, a company should not expect me to know how to conduct repairs on technological items that were designed and built by people with degrees in working with complex, compact technology.

It is reasonable for a car manufacturer to expect me to know how to change a flat tire or change the oil. It is reasonable for an eyeglass manufacturer to expect me to apply a screwdriver to the frames when they get loose.

It is unreasonable, however, for an oven maker to expect me to do anything more complex than relight the pilot light. It is even more unreasonable for Apple or any other technology company to expect that we be sophisticated enough to repair their devices.

In Apple's case (or SanDisk's et al.), it is designing a product that is designed to store information over the long haul. It also is a gadget. As such, support for when these things break down should be free, available and timely.

You cannot expect everyone to be an expert at every piece of hardware in their home.

Posted by: easymac | October 23, 2006 3:55 PM


EGE: My iPod battery should last FOREVER!

REALITY: ALL batteries need replacement at some point; for ANY electrical device. iPod replacement batteries are as cheap as $16. Like ANYTHING IN LIFE, either do it yourself, get a friend/relative to do it, or have someone else do it for a fee.

EGE: Music that I purchased on the iTunes Music Store is 100% LOCKED INTO APPLE'S MONOPOLISTIC, COERCIVE, PROPRIETARY FORMAT!

REALITY: This is not just a myth but a lie. iTMS music can be burned to a CD -- legally, up to 3 times! -- and the CD music version can be imported onto ANY MP3 PLAYER SYSTEM and into ANYONE'S iTunes Library <--- ANY!

EGE: But I don't FEEL LIKE burning a CD in order to LIBERATE my iTMS-purchased music.

REALITY: 'Don't feel like...' and 'Can't' may be EQUAL for YOUR generation, but they aren't in ALL OTHER generations as well as in REALITY.

EGE: But when I buy a song on iTMS, it's then MY SONG. I should be able to do with it whatever I want to do!

REALITY: Wrong, wrong, wrong Gen E'er! When you buy an iTMS song, you buy it under the iTMS contractual arrangement and the DRM restrictions. You buy it, upfront and with EYES WIDE OPEN, that the purchased song is ONLY to be played through these two Apple products: iTunes and iPod. But Apple even gives you a way to remove the DRM: it's called 'burning a CD'.

EGE: "But don't you wish you didn't have to spend more money to make sure what you bought holds its value?"

REALITY: The implicit agreement when one buys VIRTUALLY ANY ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT is a one-year warranty, an assurance that what you bought will hold its value FOR ONE YEAR. Translation: NOT FOREVER! If one wants to extend that assurance beyond one year, for MANY ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS, extended warranties are offered for a fee.

EGE: With the Shuffle you can't actually see what's playing, and you can't shift between playlists or albums or genres.

REALITY: If you want that ability, the iPod Shuffle is NOT your iPod product. And, yes, you have to pay MORE to get an iPod that has:
- a screen
- a battery that can drive that screen
- a bigger size iPod to house that screen
- internal tech hardware to manage the screen's output

REALITY: The iPod Shuffle is an iPod for those who are willing, upfront and with EYES WIDE OPEN, to forego the screen, and listen to downloaded music sequentially or randomly, in order to benefit from not just the low price point but also the extreme portability.

STATEMENT: "We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best."

EGE TRANSLATION: "My generation wants EVERYTHING just GIFT-WRAPPED to us ON OUR EVERY SPOILED WHIM and OWN SPOILED TERMS." "Apple OWES US AUTOMATICALLY any and all trailblazing, state-of-the-art technology, at DECREASING COSTS." "Apple also OWES US the technical ability to RIP OFF ANY COPYRIGHTED MUSIC, because, after all, it is TECHNICALLY FEASIBLE and we are the generation that was borne into this technical FEASABILITY."

REALITY: Any illegal copying of copyrighted material was, is, and will forever be one thing: STEALING. No matter how easy or sugarcoated or rationalized or entitled one feels to copying ANY much less VOLUMES and VOLUMES copyrighted music, it will ALWAYS be WRONG from the get go. Get over it.

REALITY: The incredibly CONVENIENT and 'COULDN'T-BE-A-LOWER THRESHOLD' WAY that Apple has presented to music and podcast lovers to buy music, SELECTIVELY!, and FOR UNDER A DOLLAR PER SONG! is a fact understood by the vast majority of iPod/iTunes users. The only demographic of the iPod community that DOESN'T GET IT is the one that has had almost everything handed to them for free!

Posted by: Reality Check | October 23, 2006 3:57 PM

iPods are overpriced fad items that are more about fashion than quality. If you purchase one of these items and are unsatisfied by the quality of music it plays... and the well know battery life issues it is known to have... and Apples overpriced upgrades, repairs and service contracts... because you didn't do a little research first; that's your problem. You blew your $400 on an inferior product. Better luck next time.

There are much better quality portable mp3 players out there that can actually play back high quality, uncompressed CD quality files - or even higher quality files, into the 24/196 arena. So if high quality music playback is what you desire, why buy an iPod that was specifically built to play low quality, compressed media??

You can get the same quality playback from a Samsung SCH-A990 telephone that can also take 3.2 megapixel photographs, videos, surf the web, access V-Cast from anywhere for music purchases function as an alarm clock, e-mail handler, stop watch, voice recorder, business card scanner, business calander and planner... etc etc... for LESS than the iPod.

I can't see a single reason to buy an iPod beyonf brand loyalty or being to lazy to research for better products in the price range.

Posted by: Detroiter | October 23, 2006 3:57 PM

Amazing how worked up people get by "sound quality", when as far back as Edison's first primitive player, people have had difficulty telling a recording from a live performance.

I know, I know, a well-trained ear and all. But for 99% of music fans, the difference between AAC, MP3, and your uncompressed music is invisible - they can't tell.

Posted by: audiophools | October 23, 2006 3:58 PM

People need to understand that you can't expect today's bleeding edge electronics to have the same lifespan as a car or refridgerator or other item that you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on. Just because you spend money on something doesn't (and shouldn't) make it as long lasting as every other purchase of similar price. Rule of thumb: the duration of the technology in the market is inversely proportional to the durability of the product.

Posted by: newcommonsense | October 23, 2006 4:16 PM

I suggest that everyone, including tech savvy folks, look into other MP3 players by folks like Creative and Rio. My iPod always cracks me up - the fact that they just corrected "gapless playback" recently (think the medley at end of Abbey Road with a bunch of spaces) and that it's still a pain to switch to and from shuffle mode or to create a playlist on the fly. These were basic features of my Creative MP3 players in 2001. What Windows 3.0 on a PC was to Macintosh, iPod is to Creative.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 4:18 PM

A warning regarding AllofMP3. AllofMP3 is a Russian company which pays no royalties to the artists or labels. Visa and MC no longer allow you to use their cards at the site. If you buy from you might as well be using Limewire as far as the RIAA is concerned. I expect the RIAA to begin to file suits against the customer's of as soon as the figure out a way to identify them.

Posted by: Troy | October 23, 2006 4:19 PM

"I know, I know, a well-trained ear and all. But for 99% of music fans, the difference between AAC, MP3, and your uncompressed music is invisible - they can't tell."

Hmmm yea, this is probably true if you're into the American Idol music genre or Justin Timberlake. That's not my fault.

Posted by: Audiophile | October 23, 2006 4:21 PM

I don't consider myself an audiophile. I did recently change jobs, and my new budget has afforded me a mid-high end sound system. Even my unexperienced ears can hear the obvious difference between uncompressed files and mp3s. I can't tell the difference on my Bose radio, but it is clear as day on a good system (yes, I now consider my Bose systems 'the crappy ones'). I would encourage audiophools to do some research with something other than your factory car stereo.

Posted by: begtodiffer | October 23, 2006 4:25 PM

Some of these comments are hilarious... As are these strange 'brand lover' comments... As an IT manager I make use of both Apple and PC equipment, both of which have their flaws... Unfortunately Apple is surprisingly childish in its support and business practices - the recent 'Windows' virus is a prime example (ie take responsibility Apple, I dislike MS monopoly as much as anybody else but MS didn't create the virus or put it on your Ipods - that was YOUR error). All the comments slating other people for not being 'tech savvy' if they can't work their Ipods - thats ridiculous - does it say in the instruction manual that if you plug your ipod into a different computer you'll wipe it? I doubt it but if you bought a microwave and plugged it into a different socket and it exploded you wouldn't be very happy would you? My point is simple - as consumers we are accepting less and less as corporate money gets channelled away from quality products into marketing... The amount of crap that gets sold because its 'cool' (even though its an awful product) is a joke... I'm only 26 but even I remember the days when a product actually had to prove itself to become popular - unfortunately now we are dumbed down to the point of seeing something flash on the TV and saying 'I want one of those' without caring what the quality is like

Posted by: JBagg | October 23, 2006 4:34 PM

hey uh reality check, dude you got no life if you can spend that much time on that comment.

Posted by: Reality check checker | October 23, 2006 4:36 PM

Hey its yuki il ov eyou for ewrtiting all that stuff about my website

Posted by: me | October 23, 2006 4:41 PM

Thanks Reality Check... I'll try to do better - honest.

I'm at work 'dude' and just putting in my 2 cents worth... Isn't that what the US calls Freedom of Speech? Or do those freedoms mean 'free to say whatever you like and then get flamed by a retard with nothing constructive to say'

Anyway - almost 5 - off home to the Mrs & my nice 5 bed house... Enjoy the bedroom kiddy

Posted by: Jbagg | October 23, 2006 4:46 PM

There is nothing special about the ipod or apple computer in general. Don't drink the cool-aid.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 4:57 PM

sorry Jbagg i wasn't talking to you i was talking to "REALITY CHECk" no commen techie wants to read all that

Posted by: Reality check checker | October 23, 2006 5:14 PM

again sorry jbagg, really am your comment was one of the ones i actually read and i thought it made a lot of sense

Posted by: reality check checker | October 23, 2006 5:16 PM

What hasn't been posted yet directly -- though we got close with the reality check on .wav vs .mp3 -- is the ultimate ho-hum on the iPod: Wandering around by yourself listening to pre-recorded music in a couple of ear buds is nothing like hearing live music. Or even listening to a good sound system with a couple of friends. Sonically or in any other way. I could get into the technical aspects of flattened sound but that's not what I mean: It seems like we're going in the direction of walled-off isolation, and paying like good trained consumers to do so.

Walking around outside listening to the sounds of the world that we don't control with a computer chip... how revolutionary.

Sitting in community hearing music -- or even better, making it -- is magic. It's part of our DNA. Our hard wiring. The time spent screwing around with formatting file extensions and troubleshooting on a website, alone, could be spent with people, letting the music take you away. Letting life happen. Sounds great to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 5:19 PM

Who cares about the lack of perfect audio fidelity!? I mean, seriously, 99.9% of iPod users (or all other MP3 player users for that matter) will only ever listen to their music on EAR BUDS! On the rare occation they don't, they use whatever small speakers they connect to, their car stereo, or their computer speakers! If you are 'Audiophile' or 'bedtodiffer', digital music players are not for you. I used to hear music snobs go on about how they would never buy a CD for the same reason.

iPods are perfect for most of the population how they intend to use them. To the few 'audiophiles' out there, it's not for you. It's the same reason consumer level digital cameras work great for most people, and I use one for day to day photos, but I don't use one for my photography hobby.

Posted by: JustRon | October 23, 2006 5:38 PM

Apple fanatics have become as bad as PC users were in the mid-80's; arrogant and self-righteous seems to be the new "cool" trend. Congratulations for being as rude as PC users used to be.

Posted by: Yepper | October 23, 2006 6:23 PM

If only there were a resource where someone could look up answers to their problems that spanned web sites all over the world...

Google "problem"

"Read results"
"Fix Problem"

As for audiophile quality - guess what - you can import cds as cd quality, get some kick ass headphones and blow out your eardrums to your hearts content. Apple's systems and software work - just invest some time learning how they work before you post something.

Posted by: Duh? | October 23, 2006 6:52 PM

None of these issues are all-or-nothing, black-and-white questions.

Yeah, 128kbps AAC files (as sold by the iTunes Store) don't have the same sound quality as uncompressed files on a CD. But if you take a modest amount of time needed to encode your own music, you can achieve "CD-transparent" sound quality -- that is, musical fidelity that will sound indistinguishable from the source CD to the vast majority of listeners in blind ABX listening tests -- easily enough, at least two ways.

One is to use the LAME mp3 encoder at the V2 setting, which will create variable-bitrate files averaging around 180-210 kbps. Or, if you use iTunes (the free software, not the music store) you can use the built-in AAC encoder at the 192 kbps/VBR setting.

Most music lovers -- not necessarily self-proclaimed audiophiles -- should also consider upgrading the stock earphones that come with *any* MP3 player, the iPod included.

iPods, like other well-designed players, can sound quite good, even to the musically discriminating listener, if you just make the effort to encode your tracks well, and play them back through decent headphones, earplugs, or external speakers.

There seems to be a large amount of anti-Apple sentiment in this thread, which is perhaps understandable, but it's misdirected, in my opinion. iTunes and the iPod are very intelligently designed, well integrated, and potentially quite powerful audio tools. This is not to denigrate the achievement of other companies. But there are reasons beyond mere hype, beyond elegant design, and beyond the "coolness" factor that underlie the success of this constellation of products.

The notion that you're somehow "locked in" to Apple by using an iPod or the iTunes software is simply untrue. I've got a collection of some 31,000 audio files, none purchased from the iTunes store, most of which are in LAME/mp3 format (though as noted above, the iPod can also handle a variety of other formats, including uncompressed audio files for the "absolute sound" crowd), but I don't feel locked in to the iPod at all. I own a couple of iPods because I like them better than other players -- in large measure because I like the power and flexibility of iTunes for managing my library and creating "smart" playlists. The seamless integration between hardware and software has no equal among alternative products. Really the competition is not even close.

Posted by: kaspian | October 23, 2006 6:54 PM

I heart reality check.

All of you nimrods saying "get a life" - what are you doing here, reading all the comments? Kettle!

I am most amazed about the complaint re: the iPod Shuffle. Who the heck buys a shuffle and then complains that it has no screen and no control over the playlist?DUH! That's why I bought a Nano instead! I actually educated myself before shopping. As reality check said, "EYES WIDE OPEN." The author's thoughtless purchase is her problem. She sounds like she would actually believe the Nigerian email scam.

Posted by: hilarious | October 23, 2006 6:54 PM

I enjoy reading about technology on any level and I was looking forward to these columns, but I have to agree with Troy (above), that the authors really don't understand Information Technology (IT), or at least have trouble conveying it to their readers. I'm sure you're all very nice people, but your writing is like that of an end user (no offense to end users).

I'm not an IT snob, although I do have a degree, certifications, and 22 years of experience being in the IS/IT field. So, it's somewhat insulting when I read, what is supposed to be a technical discussion, a group of non-techies picking out technology subjects to discuss, with really no substance or background knowledge in what they're writing about. Confused, I went to each of your profiles and discovered that none of you really have an in-depth knowledge of Information Technology, which is much different than "consumer technology".

I'm not trying to be insulting. I'm sure all of you are much better news people than I am, but honestly, you should change the name of your blog to reflect what you're really writing about so as to not mislead your readers.

Hopefully, you'll dig deeper into technology and get a better understanding of what you're writing about. But, if you're not a digger, as one of you admit, why even bother writing about this subject? I was once told in a writing class to "write what you know".

All this particular article did is reduce your readers to stirring up the never-ending debate of Mac vs. PCs. Anyone could that...

Posted by: Alan | October 23, 2006 8:00 PM

i love my 3 apple computers and my 2 iPods. And downloading songs from the internet radio - how is that different from recording radio on tape?

Posted by: mitoguitarman | October 23, 2006 8:12 PM

Thanks dirk for taking money OUT of the hands of working musicians like myself and pointing everyone to a site that does NOT pay me when they steal my music.

At least with the iTunes music store and other legitimate services, I am compensated for my work.

PS: Yuki, I am sending my resume to the Post. You relaly should have done a better job.

Posted by: Bigpoppa | October 23, 2006 8:25 PM

If you want a video iPod for $400, go for it, but I have a much cheaper, smaller 4GB nano. It holds plenty of songs, and I use it every day for at least an hour - usually while running. I've never had a single problem of any kind with it, or ever had to troubleshoot it at all. Even if it dies on its first birthday, I am perfectly satisfied and will buy another one.

I have no idea what to tell someone who finds an iPod hard to use.

Posted by: frogbells | October 23, 2006 8:33 PM

Your story resonated with me. when I bought my Lyra (over 2 years ago) ...I bought it and not an Ipod exactly because this 'new' player didnt come with any excessive DRM strings attached, and allowed me to move my current collection from my PC to the device will little to no encumberments. Plus, it was a better value (more HD space per buck). I dont need apple making things so 'simple' for me that I become dependant on thier technology, nor do I want them dictating the way I enjoy my music. Hands down, the ipods are the sexiest players, and certainly the best marketed. But I use my player to listen to music, not to impress my friends with some overpriced style accessory.

Viva la competition.

Posted by: javajoe5 | October 23, 2006 9:50 PM

I read her rebuttle, but admittedly only glanced over the responses. Yeah, she could have done better in resolving her issues.

But while Mp3 players did exist before iPod, there's a reason why iPod grabbed the market share:

It sounds like some of you need soemthing better to be angry about than Apple vs. PC.

People who buy iPods are just as much sheep as people who buy another brand just as long as it's "not an iPod".

Buy to your needs, not what you think they are - regardless of the manufacturer.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2006 10:00 PM

I like my iPod. It's not perfect. It cost way more than Apple should have a right to charge for it in any society that truly believes in justice. But I chose to buy it, so I must also accept responsibility for being a party to my own exploitation. And I would definitely prefer its company at the price of $400 to that of a typical Apple groupie at any price.

Posted by: Ben | October 23, 2006 10:19 PM

The solution to most of these problems would be buying a minidisc recorder/player.

Fraction of the price of the iPod or most mp3 players, removable 1gb blocks of storage, records in a variety of formats, the battery life on one AA battery is huge, and when you cant recharge that AA battery anymore, it doesnt take a website to tell you how to replace it. Oh yeah, and it also doubles as a USB hard drive.

That and a pair of high quality (not made in China bullsh*t Sony headphones) and you really dont have anything to complain about.

Posted by: marx2k | October 23, 2006 10:29 PM

To Audiophile:

If you were a true audiophile, you wouldn't own dare own a CD. Because, according to true audiophiles, CDs are too sterile and remove all the pyscho-acoustics that can only be achieved through analog sources such as LPs.

BTW, Creative's Xmod - X-Fi for PC & Mac can restore compressed MP3s "beyond" studio quality.

Posted by: Tom | October 23, 2006 10:30 PM

I used to work in consumer electronics retail at college and the one thing I could never assume is that people had the basic tools to problem solve electronic devices like ipods, cellphones or the like. For whatever reason a lot of people cannot or will not be able to solve problems that are easy to fix.

What I'm trying to say is that a lot of people just do not get electronics, and a device marketed to the mass consumer market has to be incredibly easy to use and fix. By all means you are all right if you say that most problems with iPods are easy to fix, I know this well having fixed many hundreds by simple resetting them or reinstalling the software. But you can't assume people will know or be able to do even that. Does this mean people are stupid? Sort of, but that is the market, and that is who must be catered to. The hardest thing I found was trying to explain the whole DRM thing to people and why that meant that it was easiest just to designate one computer as the iPod base station.

Posted by: Juanito | October 23, 2006 10:42 PM

The most important strenght of the ipod is that supposedly you don´t need to know a lot about computers (fool proof)... but, if you need special knowledge to fix little issues like making copies to another mp3 player, that strenght vanishes. I know two or three things about computers and that is why I DON´T have (and Im not going to have) an IPOD

Posted by: Leo | October 23, 2006 10:56 PM

Leo, thats the same argument as why people use linux/unix vs windows. If you just want to point and click and dont care much about the workings of the OS, use Windows. Linux is for hackers.

Same with the IPod (and the Mac)- If you just want to point and click but drop functionality as a tradeoff, you buy an IPod. Otherwise you spend a few minutes googling information and buy something a little more...hackable

Posted by: marx2k | October 23, 2006 11:01 PM

I wonder how you got a job writing about technology. This missive on the iPod was totally worthless and unhelpful to the average consumer.

Your iPod will play MP3s that you burn from your own CDs. But you don't feel like burning... so, your iPod will play any MP3 (and several other formats).

What is the problem other than that you want to be lazy and buy from iTunes Music Store without circumventing the DRM? As a writer, don't you respect copyright? Incredible.

You are not beholden to use the music store. You can get your own stuff from elsewhere and import it into iTunes. Of course, that's too much work, right?

You can't win, so don't write crap like this that misleads the public.

Posted by: scratching my head | October 24, 2006 12:18 AM

I work for a consumer electronics firm and sometimes I swear we need to publish two manuals that are gender specific.

I really hope we as adults can help young girls growing up to better understand things made of silicon, not that silicon, the other other silicon!

Posted by: David | October 24, 2006 12:47 AM

Just to sum up: ipod not closed. there are about 15 online stores (like emusic) that sell tracks that you load onto the ipod by dragging it into itunes or of course, any CD you already own or hope to own - the ipod will even go out and look for the Cd artwork AND is smart enough to realize if you have a Shuffle - not load that.

The advantage to the shuffle is its size so no screen - if you want a screen, buy a nano - that's like complaining you can't fit 5 golf golf bags into your subcompact. D'uh.

Only the ipod offer THREE Lossless formats so audio fidelity is NOT an issue - like with everything else, the CHOICE is yours. Nevermind that CD's are compressed digital files anyway.

The Ipod "locked" into itunes is like complaining you have to drive on rubber tires included with your car. itunes is free and is updated often and still FREE. It lets you drag in 8 different AUDIO formats and will automatocally sync with your ipod - are you leery of anything that just works? Why not take the hinges off your front door - it works too well?

And of course, the ipod is not perfect but name ANYTHING you can buy that is? You might have some psychological need to come up with reasons not to buy an ipod merely because it's popular but like drinking water, making friends and eating regularly - many things that are popular and done by millions of people do not make us idiots or dumb - that only you can see through the hype. It is your money and we're just trying to help you - if you don't want help and prefer to choose something inferior, good luck with you.

Posted by: jbelkin | October 24, 2006 12:55 AM

I'm mystified as to why an "audiophile" would bother to buy or criticize an iPod.

Apple has never marketed the iPod as an audiophile device. Nor has the iTunes Music Store ever been aimed at listeners whose primary interest is classical or jazz music, say.

Criticizing an iPod for not being an audiophile device is like criticizing a Mazda Miata for not being a Porsche. Who cares? It's not supposed to be a Porsche.

Nevertheless, in comparison to the most popular portable music devices which preceeded it (ie, the cassette or CD Walkman), the iPod is hugely superior in sound quality and/or convenience.

Those improvements have been enough to convice tens of millions of people of the worthiness of the iPod -- which brings music to moments of their lives where they otherwise wouldn't have listened to music before.

Here's a little device that has done more to bring joy to the world than any other electronic gadget I can think of in decades.

Audiophiles who are interested in the highest sound quality only should stay at home in carefully controlled environments with components that make no compromise. Nothing wrong with that.

The rest of us who want a convenient player to bring more music into our everyday lives are thankful that Apple exists and does what it does so well.


Posted by: Paul D. | October 24, 2006 2:16 AM

Many users don't have strong technical background. Why should they?
However, they should pay for the services of the skilled technicians or they could save some money by learning stuff from the Net.

Posted by: The HUNgarian | October 24, 2006 3:43 AM

If you consider an ipod off craigslist with music already on it a bonus. Why dont you just download music? Why even worry about drm when you can just p2p it.

While there are 2 modes for the shuffle, the whole theory behind it is loading up your favorite music on it and not having to know whats playing because you know you already like whats on it.

The battery situation could be worse, I agree having to pay upkeep on an already expensive device is kinda lame. Still beats AAA batteries, and battery replacement is not much more expensive than rival companies.

Its amazing that after 5 years of ipods there are still so many misconceptions out there about them. I heard earlier today someone say they didnt want to buy one because it would only play songs on it from the itunes store.

Unless you're wealthy I dont see how you can shell out a couple hundred dollars without doing a little research.

Apple did a pretty good job of making an mp3 for the entry user. If people cant figure that out you might as well give up.

Posted by: Tad | October 24, 2006 3:51 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't get the point of the first article? Was it to educate the general consumer about, well, anything? Considering the misinformation and admitted lack of knowledge & research on the issues, this little tirade about "Jazzhands" really belongs in a personal blog, not in the technology section of a newspaper or it's website.

As for the general Post readership looking for the "easiest and cheapest..." and not being "diggers" people buy the paper with the understanding that you as a reporter have done your homework on a subject (or does that fall into the same category as the evaporated warranty). Insulting your audience might have gotten you noticed but whatever respect you thought they had is officially gone.

"Technology Writer" The Washington Post? Wow!

Posted by: A Real Technology Writer | October 24, 2006 4:43 AM

I don't care about the iPod (overpriced, overhyped, my mp3 player cost me $10) but your article has highlighted one aspect of the tech world. Capitalisation !

You put EBay when they write it as eBay. Same with iPod and iTunes and many others.

This attacks the rules of grammar, i.e. capitals at the start of sentences. EBay anyone. IPod. ITunes etc. etc.

Posted by: matt | October 24, 2006 4:45 AM

DRM does not apply to anything not bought from Itunes... I can import mp3's / CD's into itunes AND COPY THEM OUT AGAIN as mp3's. They're all there... in files and directories etc. and in the format they were imported in - NO DRM ADDED! I don't understand the bad press here when windows media player 9 rips a cd in wma format and stops you playing the ripped file on a second pc...

Posted by: tom | October 24, 2006 6:01 AM

I find the vicious sentiments posted here to be astonishing and depressing. Basically, if someone "has a life" they are not going to be trolling the net six hours a day looking for info on how to run Linux on their iPod. The author makes an excellent point about limitations of Apple's closed system. Unlike CDs, music you buy from Apple is FOREVER LOCKED IN to their overpriced music players. And they LOCK YOU OUT of playing music purchased from other services. Yes, there are utilities to strip DRM. Yes, you can rip your own CDs. Yes, you can burn to CD and rip from CD (if you wanna destroy the quality and have no-tags or manually re-enter the tags). Yes you can transcode WMA (again, if you wanna kill the quality). Yes, you can replace the batteries (if you want to pay through the nose for what should be an inexpensive part). But the bottom line is that these players are ALL about Apple and their profits, NOT about your convenience. Whether it's the cost of replacing and servicing proprietary equipment, or the cost of you having to track down all this technical minutia on the web, iPods are a lot more expensive and difficult to use than the marketing would have you believe.

Posted by: Bill | October 24, 2006 6:13 AM

I don't understand the bad press here when windows media player 9 rips a cd in wma format and stops you playing the ripped file on a second pc...

Dunderhead, that is an option you can turn on or off in WMP. None of the 10,000 songs I've ripped in WMA format from my CDs have DRM.

Posted by: Bill | October 24, 2006 6:16 AM

"We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best."

I've yet to see a single product achieve all three. Might as well toss in "and solves world hunger" too.


Posted by: fixwithreboot | October 24, 2006 7:42 AM

I bought 2 Apple IPods, costing 300. each, for my two older kids for Christmas. Both were broken in 8-9 months. On one the front panel control wheel broke, on the other the hard drive died. Apple replaced both under warranty, but it was a pain. I don't think I would ever buy one again. The rest of the family (wife, son, me) use a much simpler less complex devices made by Rio. With a single rechargable, removable AAA NiMH battery, it's simple and with a spare on hand, never dead for playing music. It's OK if I forget about it for a few days. Loaded with a 1GB SD cards, it has plenty of room for all the songs I need to bring along. My Rio Chiba has survived daily workouts in mixed weather conditions for a couple of years now, and never quit. It was under 100. and plays MP3 I rip, or most other downloaded protected formats. The interesting thing is I am a techie, having worked in the industry for over 25 years. I bought a product that met my needs and was inherently reliable by design, not because it was cool. I keep my music on outboard 250GB USB hard drives in FLAAC format, it would never all fit on 20 IPods. I spent my money on Slim Devices products, own 3 of their players. That's the way THIS techie did it. Apple products fill a need, but not for me. I don't need to be hip and cool.

Posted by: BobTech | October 24, 2006 7:56 AM

Some strange comments on both sides here. The facts are this: The ipod is a very efficent product in comparison with others in its price range. The menu design is sleek and easy to use. You can arrange the songs in any order you want with your computer, which is how its designed. There is simply no way to fit 20,000 non-compressed audio files on the hard drives currently available for these small devices. BUT if you're really an audiofile you can rip your CDs at full bit rate and put them on your ipod - you wont fit near as many, but it'll sound more hi-fi. But the ipod was made so people can carry their entire CD collection with them wherever they go, and most people find the lesser sound quality of AAC or mp3 to be a small trade off for the convience of having so much music in their car or on vacation or whatever their commute is. I dont think apple intended for it to replace $5000 audiophile systems. Burning a CD is certainly no harder than setting up your ipod collection. I dont know how many digital downloads you buy, but once you buy t, just burn a CD for storage, not very hard. you can then import it later if you feel the need, to any other device should you buy something else in the future. As far as build quality... Well its certainly not perfect, but unfortunaely in this micro-sized consumer catagory, its tough to make things that small and %100 percent flawless. Ever have trouble with your cell phone? And batteries? I wish they would last forever too. You can actually replace them your self in 15 minutes with a small flathead screwdriver. I'd compare that to checking your oil in difficulty.

Posted by: LDR New York | October 24, 2006 8:03 AM

The build quality is sub-par, the battery is a joke and the amount of faulty cases is ridiculous.
The ipod actually won a "shonky" award here in australia - given for products of a particlarly dodgy nature. I think apple owe it to their legions of fans to slow down on the technical upgrades until they actually refine their current and most fundamental ipod components

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2006 8:18 AM

i'm a professional musician and producer, and know about what sounds good - the bottom line is if the original song is recorded at very good quality, it's still going to sound good at 160kps mp3 - I work with 96/24bit audio (for the techies here) everyday, then I listen to Cds (44.1/16bit audio), and then i go jogging with my ipod shuffle - and it always holds true - if the final mix sounds great, it'll translate to all these different formats just fine.

By the way, I use the ipod shuffle because I sweat when I jog (really!), i don;t need to see a display, and....on and on....

For all those guys who can't stand Mac stuff - I've used Macs for 20 years (not the same one:-), and about every 3-4 (3 years if my wife lets me) years, it's time to change not just certain components, but the whole deal, because the technology is intertwined, both the hardware and software- is anybody still using windows 95? - probably not because your computer won't run it...

Posted by: Jman | October 24, 2006 8:22 AM

In a vain attempt to be on topic:

I had a Creative Zen (Nomad) player. It had certain features relating to sound quality that I miss - I could set it to sound best with my headphones, or for a small room, or for the car, right there on the device itself. I could also tell it whether or not the songs should blend together or have a gap between them.

Its battery held less and less of a charge over time, but before the battery death, the player crashed and failed in a dramatic way. Their customer support tried very hard to help even though I wasn't entitled to it after two years. I lost all of the music, much of which had come from CDs I no longer owned.

I bought an iPod. I miss the sound level features and some of the on-the-fly options, but I appreciate the seamless nature of iTunes (and I read all of the included help files before plugging in the iPod - that helped me to set everything so as to not erase my pod whenever I plugged it in, and allowed me to choose my preferred quality level and format in ripped CDs).

I also use iTunes to explore new genres, preview albums, and experiment for a cheap price. Most albums are terrible, with only one or two good songs. When I find an entire album I like, I buy the CD.

I've had this iPod for nearly two years. The battery is doing better than the Zen's, and the convenience/fun of iTunes is enjoyable.

There's no need for the tone and attitude exhibited by most of the posters. A true "techie" is capable of making his or her arguments with logic and reasoning, not exclamation points.

Posted by: Creative Pod | October 24, 2006 9:48 AM

I won't buy an iPod, because iTunes doesn't offer a subscription music service, for exploring new-to-me music. (Yes, a subscription, like cable television or satellite radio.)

I know. I know. Most iPod owners use something like Limewire to steal their music.

BTW, iPod is behind the times in the area of wireless. Zune offers (restricted) user-to-user wireless sharing, and will offer Wi-Fi hot-spot access in the future. Sirius recently announced a new portable satellite radio that includes Wi-Fi.

Posted by: JohnJ | October 24, 2006 11:55 AM

"We're just looking for what's easiest and cheapest and what works best."

Then stop your complaining, you found it. I mean, you have to pick 2. You can have easiest and works the best, but may not be the cheapest, or you can have the easist and cheapest, but probably won't work the best, or you can have the cheapest and what works the best, but it probably won't be the easiest. Overall though, the iPod is probably the best at meeting your requirements, and on top of that, the iPod looks good on you.

Posted by: Norm Miller | October 24, 2006 12:54 PM

JohnJ, I resent your comment "Most iPod owners use something like Limewire to steal their music." I think you will find the reverse is true. The iPod/iTunes solution has turned those who may have stolen music, into legitiment owners of music.

Personally, I don't understand why you would want to pay for a service that doesn't allow you to listen to the music you want after you stop paying for the service. I prefer to own my music;; to buy it ONCE and then be able to listen to it forever, not to have to buy it again month after month.

iPod will be behind the Zune player in terms of wireless, but then again the Zune is way behind the iPod in terms of market share. The Zune wireless will mean nothing until they have market saturation so that you can find another wireless user. Personally, I don't care what other people sitting in the coffee shop are listening to, I have my 20 gig of music, and that is more then I need.

Posted by: Norm Miller | October 24, 2006 1:01 PM

BobTech: Your 250GB would fit on slightly more than 3 brand new ipods. In fact, 20 is EXACTLY the number of wimpy 1st gen 5gb ipods. And your kids, well, they must be at least as dense as you were when you gave the damn things to them, for them to go and (predictabley) break them. Unless you're dealing with MENSA-grade youths, giving a kid an iPod is as stupid as giving them a fabrige egg. They wont appreciate it, and it will be broken *soon*

Posted by: natsneaky | October 24, 2006 2:09 PM

Anyone who gets an iPod and feels *really* hip is a moron.
Battery issue: 10 minutes at the *most* I was astounded at how simple the iPod is inside. Main Board, LCD, Hard Drive and Battery. Not rocket science.
But judging on a lot of the misguided posts concerning DRM, Batteries, Durability etc... I'd have to say that these articles are right up most Post readers allys. Go to arstechnica and let the morons hang out at dumbed down sites like this. PS im really, really bored at work, otherwise, jesus, i wouldn't even bother.

Posted by: natsneaky | October 24, 2006 2:18 PM

I recently bought a software product called Tunebite Platinum (I'm sure others make something similiar), which easily re-encoded my purchased iTunes .m4p files into .mp3,.ogg, or .wma files, without the need to burn them to a CD first. It will also re-code iTunes videos (such as TV shows) into unprotected .wmv files and MPEG-4 files that can be played back with Windows Media Player or other popular players. It cost $24.99 (34.99 if you want to encode the videos as MPEG-4).

Posted by: Tom R | October 24, 2006 6:37 PM

Posted by: You
"Sure, macs and ipods may look cool or whatever, but please, they're both ripoffs in that you practically have to buy whole new machines to fix/upgrade a part. It's their business model."

That is totally and completly wrong, ipods can't be upgraded sure but Macs are just as upgradable as any PC and you don't have any of those pesky driver conflicts.

Posted by: TT | October 25, 2006 2:07 PM

So when and how is the Post going to acknowledge that the ridiculous Van Halen on Mt. Everest article was essentially a paid placement? The author is 'sponsored' by Creative, the company that makes the MP3 player he highly touts.

Leaving aside the inaccuracies and the clear acknowledgement by Apple that a hard drive-based player will not work in those conditions, the Post should at least acknowledge that it failed to disclose the relationship between the author and the product he 'reviewed'.

Posted by: Bill | October 27, 2006 12:56 AM

taht was a little weird " iheart bill" cuse bill ahd nothing to say about families and hearts and stuff

anyway a little off topic

Posted by: umm... | October 28, 2006 2:52 PM

iFart iN tHe bAtthroom that is ass silly as aaying iPod I am an english teacher and please use correct grammar "techies" and "audiophiles"

Posted by: ipod | October 28, 2006 2:56 PM

Hi "iPod" if you are an english teacher than why ere htere so many grammatical mistakes?

Posted by: hello | October 28, 2006 2:59 PM

hi guys i was wondering what was so intersting about technology see i am an amish person and i was wondering if it was worthit to come out and be noraml adn have technology

Posted by: Anonymous | October 28, 2006 3:00 PM

iguess i would say no msot amish find it overwhelming to be "normal" which we arent

Posted by: Anonymous | October 28, 2006 3:02 PM

yeah i agree do not come out amish

Posted by: do not change our ways | October 28, 2006 3:04 PM

hey that was mean

Posted by: amish lover | October 28, 2006 3:05 PM

u know what ipods suck in general
-battery life is horrible
-stock headphones blow out easily
-scratches easily
-freezes often

Posted by: nick | October 30, 2006 5:45 PM

ilove ipods

Posted by: i love ipods | October 30, 2006 7:47 PM

amish... i would warn you that we are way ahead of you guys in modernity. yeah technology is way cool but possibly not worthit i wish sometimes i could have a simple amish life

Posted by: amish beware | November 2, 2006 5:25 PM

hi uh nick have you ever had an ipod

Posted by: josh | November 2, 2006 5:28 PM

For those who don't like the iPod, my advice is simple: don't use one. There are many more players that are different. I find that other players also have issues. But why do those people who go through boxes of disposable alkaline batteries somehow think that they are saving money? And why don't people complain about scratches, cheap controls, and poor headphones on other devices? Competitors that undercut the price of the iPod almost always have pathetic file management and hideous software. But if you like that, go ahead and support your favorite by using theirs and not whining about the iPod.

Two other recommendations:
- most of the used iPods full of music on eBay and Craigslist are stolen. If you have an iPod, record the serial number. If it disappears, make sure you check on suspected postings -- chances are your stolen iPod will appear in hours on eBay or your local Craiglist. You'd think that a reputable auction house would crack down on stolen merchandise, requiring postings to include serial numbers. But i digress...

- second, a recommendation to brand bashers: if you read the brand label before reading the specs or if you criticize without actually having experienced firsthand for a reasonable test period, then you are a shallow bigot. If you are claiming that any company -- Apple, MS, Aston Martin, doesn't matter -- is perfect, then you obviously don't live in the real world. Go back to your video game and stop typing pathetic and insulting brand-biased drivel (with your incorrect grammar and spelling).

Posted by: jsr | November 3, 2006 12:44 PM

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