“The new multimedia players that can play back music, photos and even video are pretty terrific, but most often I just want to listen to music. So portable music players — especially the little ones — have a secure place in my pocket, and maybe yours, too. My favorite has been the Apple iPod mini, but now there are other little hard-drive players I’ve heard are worthy competitors, in particular, the Creative Zen Micro and the Rio Carbon,” Linda Knapp writes for The Seattle Times. “Naturally, I have to try them… the Creative Zen Micro is the first portable music player I’ve seen that offers a viable alternative to the iPod’s classy style. Both players are priced at around $250, yet there are differences. For example, the Zen Micro has 5 gigabytes of storage, compared with the iPod mini’s 4 GB.”
MacDailyNews Take: All well and good, if it were true, but the facts are actually that the 4GB iPod mini is US$199 and the 6GB iPod mini is $249. So, for the same price, the Zen Micro has 5 gigabytes of storage, compared with the iPod mini’s 6 GB. Kind of takes the sheen off of Linda’s point, huh?
Knapp continues, “With 5 GB onboard, the Micro reportedly can hold 2,500 songs stored in Windows Media Audio format at 64 kilobits per second. However, saving music at 128 to 196 Kbps provides better-quality sound, and the player still can hold more songs than are in my entire digital music library.”
MacDailyNews Take: 64 Kbps encoding is not worth using for music, so forget abut the “2,500 songs” B.S. In addition, it sounds like Linda has a small music library. Most people who like music will fill up 4 GB, 5 GB, or even 6 GB rather easily. Devices within this storage range aren’t really for those that wish to hold their entire music library – you’d want an Apple iPod or iPod photo (20 – 60 GB of storage onboard) for that instead.
Knapp continues, “I go to Creative’s Web site, and under support for the Zen Micro discover I can download a firmware update that will install Windows Plays for Sure. This will enable me to auto-sync all my songs and playlists from Windows Media Player 10 to the Zen. I download the firmware with Plays for Sure, transfer my music using auto-sync, and everything works fine. (Plays for Sure is installed on all new Zen Micros now, so there’s no need to download it.) Another mini hard-drive player that’s worth a close look is the Rio Carbon… I’m happy to discover the Carbon already supports Plays for Sure. So, instead of installing Rio’s proprietary software, I open Windows Media Player 10 on my PC, connect the Carbon, and a screen message asks if I want to auto-sync the songs and playlists from Windows Media to the player.”
MacDailyNews Take: We don’t know what Creative or Linda are describing, but PlaysForSure is a logo on a sticker. It’s like a warning that screams, “Don’t buy me!” If your player has this sticker stuck on it, it will not function directly with the market-dominating Apple iTunes Music Store. If you visit an online music store with a PlaysForSure logo on it, music purchased from that will not work with the world’s number one portable music player line, Apple’s iPod, iPod mini, iPod photo, or iPod shuffle. PlaysForShit is a marketing scheme designed to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about Apple’s iPod and iTunes; it is not software or firmware. And, Linda, Rio’s software is “proprietary,” but Microsoft’s isn’t? Linda has no idea what the hell she’s writing about, but at least she’s blissfully happy to discover PlaysForSure stickers everywhere. We can almost hear her cooing, “Ohhh, pretty colors… Ahhh, it says Microsoft on it… Shiny…”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: We get the feeling that some will venture far beyond simply bending over backwards to construct a fantasy land where some also-ran music player combined with some other totally unrelated company’s also-ran online music store can compete with the seamless, fun, and enjoyable experience of Apple’s iPod+iTunes+iTunes Music Store. Why? So they can then bend over forward to accept Microsoft’s usual “experience” forevermore?