Seattle Times writer thinks also-rans can match Apple’s iPod+iTunes

“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?


  1. I just love it when people have no idea what they are talking about, but they just keep talking over and over and over. PLEASE STOP TALKING.

    This is so unprofessional to write an article about a subject you don’t master.

    She says: “Naturally, I have to try them…”
    Well, try them and speak ! Please, get some knowledge and then write your opinion.
    What pleasure do you find in putting unfounded information in people’s minds ?

    Journalists are so…
    Even Mossberg is going crazy these days.

  2. Well, I’ve read the full article and it appears she’s actually tried the other 2.
    So I’m sorry for what I said in previous post.

    But still, she has no clue what she is talking about in the whole article. Or if she does, well, then she has no taste for finding the 3 players “nearly equivalents in quality”.

    What’s more, she should at least have taken a look at to check iPod’s latest offerings (4 – 6 GB)


  3. If she can’t fill 5gb, I really do not care about her opinion on music players. She just does not like music enough for her opinion to be very useful (her opinion is certainly valid however).

    ….waitin’ for the 80gb ipod…..

  4. Yeah the article is very poor, but remember it’s in a SEATTLE newspaper, that’s just doing some PR to the Microsoft folks down the street…….

    It’s B.S really, politics and pandering that has become our ‘media’ today…..

  5. Without validating the author’s other claims, it is only fair to point out MDN’s typical knee-jerk, we-know-everything-and-the-author-is-purely-uninformed attitude is once again unwarranted in at least one instance; i.e.:

    Now, if you want to attack Zen for perhaps improperly co-opting the PFS campaign to name their soft/firmware updates, go ahead; but the author of this article, and consumers at large should not be held liable for gripping on to a term or phrase that, to them, simply means making their chosen purchase work with their choice of software, particularly when said phrase is handed to them by the makers of those products.

    Now, that said, I also think you misunderstand the whole of the PFS campaign, and I think you will find that, should you bother to research, even Zen’s use of the phrase is not incorrect or improper; even though you will rarely see it from here out as all such references will be internal as all non-iPod contenders wrap the PFS requirements within the brand and product, pre-consumer, if you will, as reflected on the badge and label.

    And, seriously, if you can’t see that this article was written and submitted before last week’s iPod updates; that the freelance author, like at most publications, has little control over editorial content or publication dates, and is no longer responsible for the article’s out of date context, let alone an inaccurate accounting of facts which were clearly true when she wrote it, then you are truly being even more disingenuous than I would care to believe.

    Frankly, I find her dispute of 64kb as acceptable encoding quality to be a serious effort in fairness to the iPod, whereas you use it to attack her credibility, not those responsible for the claim. Shame, MDN.

    Finally, please consider that it is possible for someone to think a different product fits their needs better than our beloved iPod, and it doesn’t make them an idiot or sycophant; whereas following the leader because you are uninformed can indeed make you as such. Ot at least appear to be so.


  6. What I don’t understand is why MDN has to interpret a simple article for us. Give us your take on it, put the link up and we can make our mind. Preaching to the converted can get old quickly.

  7. People must not realize how these RENTAL plans work or something.

    I mean, WHY on Earth would anyone want to pay a monthly fee to keep being allowed to listen to their music collection?

    Perhaps these sheep who are choosing the rental route instead of actually owning their music will get a clue when they lose their job and can’t afford to remain a member?

    Imagine how depressing it would be if you lost all you income and just when you really needed to escape into your music collection, it was denied to you.

  8. 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!”

    PlaysForSure on Windows-only = lock-in standard from Microsoft!

    I wish Apple would release iTunes for Linux so that the PlaysForSure propaganda beast would turnout to be even more of a mockery than what it already is.

    Of course you can run iTunes on Linux now (via CodeWeavers).

  9. It’s pretty clear that many reviewers just simply pore over marketing brochures or other writeups and paraphrase them to make it look like they actually spent time using the product. They have no idea how these things work, because they probably held the product in their hands maybe once or twice to check it out. Their editors let them get away with it because they themselves have no idea what they’re editing–not that they’re bad at editing, but not being familiar with the topic, they just simply end up editing for grammar, not content.

    People seem surprised that on the Internet people write complete bullsh*t and get away with it. The origins began hudreds of years ago with the invention called journalism.

  10. As is typical in the news world, she may have reviewed the other players a month ago, and it only just got published, so it’s not too odd that she’s not aware of the new iPod pricing or offerings.

    The fact that she thinks navigating the other players is comparable to the iPods is laughable, though.

  11. Fairness is First,

    Your screed would make sense if MDN hadn’t written, “We don’t know what Creative … are describing…,” but MDN did include “Creative,” not just Linda Knapp, so your point doesn’t work. Creative is using the term PlaysForSure idiotically and misleadingly, but a writer should have investigated what PlaysForSure really is before writing about it. Instead, as she seems to be a MS shill, she swallows whatever Gates and his minions shove down her willing throat.

    And an article dated today, should have up-to-date pricing information as of today, especially when it is being used as a differentiator between the products being written about.

    Seattle Times = Rag. How much advertising money does MS pump into the Seattle Times anyway?

  12. wotcher,

    Yes, journalism is like one-way communication. Whatever they say, you can either accept the idea or… well that’s it actually.

    You can’t even disagree. Even if they spread the world with the worth lies, nobody will have the opportunity to point it out.

    Even though we do not quite realize it, we are being brainwashed by the media who own the world and control people’s way of thinking.

  13. ” And, Linda, Rio’s software is ‘proprietary,’ but Microsoft’s isn’t?”

    Excellent point, MDN. Why do many “tech writers” assume that because it’s from Microsoft it’s not “proprietary?”

  14. These kinds of articles will always come out. Part of being a tech writer is trying to show how much more you know than your readers, as well as all the other tech writers. This means finding something through which you can differentiate yourself. This quite easily translates into:

    1. Identify something everybody likes/is popular
    2. Point out how it is not all it is cracked up to be
    3. Profit!

    In this particular case: 1=iPod+iTMS, 2=price/storage/interoperability/format/quality/whatever, and 3=prove to the world that you are not very smart. Mission accomplished Linda.

    /note: the 3 steps above also describe many Mac arguments against PCs. Not saying the formula is flawed, just pointing out Linda’s failure to make it work.

  15. To those bashing MDN’s take: it is really difficult to have adequate respect for a review with basic factual errors, which are then used as points of comparison.

    It invites ridicule, don’t you think?

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