Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Sage ruminates on MP3 players.

The Sage is naming names.

The Sage is in possession of no less than 3 MP3 players. The first was presented by the junior-most Minion, when he acquired a newer one for himself. This one, by Cowon, works very well and holds a charge a long time. It has an LCD display, but only has .5 Mb of storage. This was quite sufficient for the Sage at the time, until the Sage tired of replacing the MP3 regularly or else listening to the same tunes over and over. However, this easily randomized the entire library of tunes.

However, one day the Sage was perusing the clearance row, and acquired a Zen Stone Plus. Again, a fine player. The first one had a display problem, so the Sage returned it on warranty for a new one. The new one arrived promptly, but the Sage was saddened that the gimmicky color option which attracted the Sage to this player was not available for the replacement. This one had 2 Mb memory, much more than the Cowon. However, with the LED display, the charge didn't last as long. This player was only able to randomize the tunes in a given album, not the entire library.

Shortly after this, the Sage acquired a new radio for the Trancendental Carriage. This radio had two types of connectors for MP3 players, along with an "iPod tagging" button. The Cowon, sadly, would not play through either connector, but would charge through the MP3 connection. The Stone Plus played through the MP3 connection, and the Sage was able to search not only through individual songs, but also through entire albums with the push of a button.

The Chief Minion, however, felt that the Sage needed to be able to employ the iPod tagging feature, and found an excellent price on a Gen 4 iPod Nano, with 16 Mb of storage. The Sage initially was extremely pleased. However, the Sage's delight was not to last long.

First, the Sage has yet to finish working through the onerous instruction manual which accompanied the Nano. The tagging feature works well, and the Sage has even worked out how to view what has been tagged. At least 2 videos have been recorded, and there are 3 pre-installed games. However, the Sage is far less than pleased with iTunes.

Additionally, while the Sage is able to play the tunes through the radio, the iPod will not scroll through albums. Rather, the Sage must scroll through every tune contained within the 16 Mb to access desired tunes or albums. While the Nano randomizes the entire album, it appears to randomize the tunes in the exact same order every time. Nor can the Sage figure out how to get the recorded videos from the Nano to the compiter.

Worst of all, the Sage does not enjoy having to resync the entire 16 Mb every time the Sage wishes to add or delete a tune, involving searching through the entire computer's library of audio files, including such things as telephone messages saved for legal purposes. With both of the supposedly lesser brands, the Sage merely adds or deletes tunes or albums at will via the computer, or hits "delete" on the player itself whenever the Sage decides that a given tune should no longer be in the collection.

Bottom line, the Sage strongly endorses the other products, but highly recommends against the iPod.


  1. Oh Great Sage, this lowly seeker humbly recommends a brand of MP3 player for your consideration in the future.

    Despite all the nasty jokes about the Zune by Microsoft, I've loved mine from the moment I bought it. It's easy to use, stores plenty of songs, I have the 8GB, and works with my car MP3 jack just fine.

    Also, the Zune software is MUCH more user friendly. (Almost anything Apple makes reduces me to tears within 15 minutes. I have no idea why this is, or why I apparently use things differently than 90% of the population.) iTunes it a special sort of hell, and I hate using it at work to store music.

    So, next time you're a at a store with a Zune on display, I would recommend trying it out.

  2. The Sage appreciates the recommendation and will consider this when making the next MP3 player purchase. Are you able to scroll through albums, or only tunes?