has become synonymous with the portable music industry. There are many other brands and models, yet the iPod, by Apple, continually beats out the competition. Does their product really stand above the rest, and is the price tag really worth it?
I suppose I should start by saying that I have been a loyal Apple user for quite some time. I have been sucked into the company’s commitment to quality. Apple, as a corporation, works hard to make great hardware and software. Their operating systems are downright splendid and easy to use, their computers are sleek and user-friendly, and their technical support is fantastic. So when the time came to choose an MP3 player, I had little choice. Apple iPod here I come!
That was a little over a year ago, and here I sit, $400 closer to bankruptcy. Sure, I splurged and went for the 40GB model, holding upwards of 10,000 songs, but I couldn’t resist. Now I realize I could never, in my wildest dreams, use 40GB of storage to hold music. I have three and a half days-worth of MP3 songs, and I am only using 10% of my storage capacity. In addition, I am always deleting songs when I get bored with them, and adding new songs as I purchase them. I am stuck using a static state of roughly 1/10 of the storage capacity. It would seem, then, that I have wasted hundreds of dollars on an MP3 player and wasted its tremendous storage capacity.
Yet, Apple compensates by their recent release of the iPod Mini and the iPod Shuffle. Again, Apple is looking out for the consumer. Or, perhaps they are monopolizing the MP3 industry. Either way, the every day shopper is going to win. These products allow for those of you who need only a limited storage capacity, and their price tag is much more reasonable. The iPod shuffle starts at only $99.99 (which holds roughly 120 songs), while the iPod Mini starts at only $199.99. If you are willing to make that jump, you can select a model in a variety of colors, and its storage capacity allows for roughly 1,000 songs. These both are the perfect size for people with a casual music library. The great thing, though, is that you can sync your iPod with iTunes on either your Windows or Mac computer, and easily delete or add songs at your leisure. It is the most dynamic music library you can imagine.
How does the iPod compare with other MP3 players, you may ask? Well, when it gets down to it, an MP3 player simply decodes an MP3-encoded sound file, and plays it. The most important thing is sound quality, which is determined primarily by the quality of your speakers or headphones, not the MP3 player. In an MP3 player, the price range does not really determine the quality of sound. You are, instead, paying for the ‘extras’. Whether that be the ability to use the storage capacity of the player as an external hard drive (as is the case with the iPod), or you get a built-in FM Transmitter (Creative Labs Zen Micro Digital Audio Player), you are simply choosing the price based on the content of the product. In fact, the price is mostly based on the capacity of storage. 40GB MP3 players, generally, are priced in a similar range. This holds true for most capacities.
Choose an iPod, then, if you like Apple or are in need of fantastic technical support. They produce iPods with a wide array of capacities and extra features. Also, the iPod seems to be the ‘in’ and ‘trendy’ way to go these days, so if you fall into that crowd, I suggest you pick one up. If all you desire is an MP3 player that plays your tunes, pick a model and brand that falls into your price range, and choose the one you like best. Base it on color, shape, battery life, and extra features; when it gets down to it, though, every MP3 player is pretty much the same.