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Next shopping question: music players
Old 11-10-2007, 03:11 PM   #1
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Next shopping question: music players

Ok, I've asked about TVs. Now I want to know about MP3 or whatever players. I have no way other than my computer to play music and an old portable cd player that skips all the time and where the little foam pads on the earphone thingies degenerated and fell off. I have some cds but not a whole lot. Most of my music is on old cassette tapes and I don't have a cassette player anymore. I want some kind of music player. I don't care about videos. Just music.

I like the iTunes interface on the computer and bought a couple songs as an experiment. Nice and easy. I assume though that there are music providers besides Apple. I see though that I can get the previous generation iPod nano for 80 bucks from Apple, reconditioned. That is about the upper limit I would want to spend.

I want something easy to use. Suggestions?
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Old 11-10-2007, 03:24 PM   #2
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Sheesh - if you weren't so advanced and had stuck with LPs you could take advantage of the Costco special and transfer all your music to computer. $75 at your doorstep. But no, you had to have a K-sette player, vinyl wasn't good enuf....
Costco - $69.99 After $20 Off Audio Technica LP Turntable to Digital Recording System
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Old 11-10-2007, 03:27 PM   #3
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I have a iPod 3G for 4 years and have loved it.
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Old 11-10-2007, 04:07 PM   #4
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Some quick basics mostly off the top of my head. Others can correct any old or incorrect info.

There are different formats for the music. You can convert your CDs to mp3 format that can be played on any brand player. I think iTunes sells songs in aac or mp4 format, which only iPods can play. The other download sites do mostly wma format with drm licensing, and iPods can't play those. So pretty much you have to decide whether to go with Apple iPods or not, and stick with that if you're buying a lot of music. I guess there are ways to convert between formats but I haven't figured it out yet. It sucks, it's like vhs vs. beta before it was clear that vhs would win out.

Some sites are starting to forgo licensing and sell mp3 format. Hopefully that will catch on and make switching easier. Of course there are all the free file sharing sites that you can get mp3 music from, but that's also not legal, and some sites are known for being virus prone. That's all I'll say about that.

Most people find that iPods are easiest to use. They are also more expensive than the other brands.

Then you want to decide between a flash memory player or hard drive.

Flash memory tops out at 8MB right now, I think. 1GB of memory gives you about 16 hours of music in mp3 format. If your goal is to put your entire collection on a player, a flash player may not be enough, though in your case unless you are going to buy a lot of new music it may be fine for you. And if you want to stay at around $80 it's about your only choice (but see my comment about a Zune later).

Hard drive players arent really good to use while exercising, because of the weight and also the bouncing can shorten the life of the hard drive. I have both kinds myself.

Pricewise, someone recently posted a Woot one-day special on a reconditioned Microsoft Zune 20GB player, I think it was $85 with shipping and tax. I got one even though I already had a Dell, as a backup/spare/whatever. So far I'm not liking the usability of moving music because it "syncs" music and I can't get it to find music that I've put on an external hard drive. I like the drag and drop method better.

Woot also recently had a 2GB Sansa player for about $25 plus shipping and tax. Also reconditioned. I picked up one to give as a gift, but haven't received it yet.

I think you'll have a tough time finding that low of prices everyday, and certainly not for new. I think $60-100 is more typical for flash players, and $200 or more for hard drive players. Amount of memory is a big factor, of course.

Both also have video capacity, which I don't care for so much (I can wait until I get home to watch movies or shows) except that it seems nice to store a few pictures, kind of like carrying photos in your wallet.
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Old 11-10-2007, 04:18 PM   #5
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So can I take the few CDs I have and put them on an iPod?
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Old 11-10-2007, 04:24 PM   #6
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Yes, definitely. The iPod should come with software to rip CDs to mp3 format. There are also a bunch of utilities online, many free.

I used Music Match, which came with the first mp3 player I bought. it got replaced by Yahoo Music Jukebox. There are probably better free utilities online. You can do it now and just keep the mp3 files on your computer (and try them out now) and then put them on whatever player you get.
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:11 PM   #7
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So can I take the few CDs I have and put them on an iPod?
I put every one of my cd's on my ipod. It was quite easy and it is really convenient. You can get a gizmo to attach to the ipod that sends out a radio signal, so that when you tune to right frequency you can play the ipod over your home and car stereos.
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:24 PM   #8
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You lose a lot of sound quality that way. Some people are fine with it, others will not be.

You can connect a cable from the headphone 3.5mm jack on the player to a auxillary line out on many new car stereos and power speakers or boombox type systems.
For my car that didn't have an aux line out I bought something to that plugged into the CD changer interface and then used the above cable to connect it in. It was a bit pricey, about $60. I think it was a P.I.E. adapter.

For home stereo it's easier and cheaper, with this cable with a 3.5mm adapter on one end, and the standard RCA stereo red/white plugs on the other: Mini 3.5mm Stereo Male To RCA Male, 6ft, 10A3-03106, Ziotek at Cyberguys.com
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Old 11-10-2007, 11:25 PM   #9
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The Itunes music store sells a lot of DRM-free music now (not sure how much - I don't buy less-than-CD quality music anyhow).

If it is DRM-free, it will play on just about any player.

As already said, you can copy your own CDs to iPod (or any other player), no problem.

$80 for a refurb is a nice price. Sandisk players are highly rated and a good price too. But, if you like iTunes, you will probably find that the iPods integrate better with iTunes than other players. At least that was my experience - I had an iPod Shuffle, tried out a cheap Zen Stone. The Stone is fine, and has a feature the Shuffle didn't have, but it does not integrate as well with iTunes - iTunes does not 'remember' where I left off on each track, or what was listened to or not. These didn;t seem like a big deal to me, until they were gone (cue Joni).

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Old 11-11-2007, 07:47 AM   #10
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I have an I-River brand MP3 player... 1 Gig.. holds a lot of music...

One of the advantages I saw with this was that it used AA batteries which last for up to 45 hours. I have a number of rechargeable so I just change them out.. most of the others have internal batteries and not that long of a life... so you must continue to recharge them all the time and if you run out of power, tough luck...with mine, just throw in another battery and keep going..

You can rip all your music to your computer from your CDs... I do not know about cassettes though...

Good luck..
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Old 11-11-2007, 08:46 AM   #11
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We got a Zen V Plus there was a sale on reconditioned ones for 49.00 we also got a charger and a plug for our car so it would play over the radio...I use my computer to copy my cd's to it. It took a little figuring but I finally got it ..I don't download a lot of music but it comes loaded with different programs you can use to download music and vidos ...we figured we would get this one since Ipod was too expensive and if we like it well enough we can upgrade later..there are many out there to choose from Ipod sells the most stuff to go with it but they are making things compatible for more MP3 players now..

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Old 11-11-2007, 09:13 AM   #12
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MP3 players are one of those funny things where human interface designers are never allowed near the thing. Either that or I'm odd in not being able to easily understand that I should be okay with pushing a button so small it needs watchmaking tools while squinting at a screen that a 10 year old with perfect vision couldnt make out, while simultaneously standing on my head and mumbling 3000 year old Polynesian chants in order to listen to a particular song.

ipods arent bad for user interface and capabilities. The refurbs can be decently priced. The deal you found is a good one. The first thing that'll go in it is probably the internal rechargeable battery, and it'll probably be cheaper to buy a new one than replace that, so dont future proof it too excessively by buying one that has 10x the storage you need. If all you want to do is stuff 100 songs on something and then listen to them at random, a Shuffle is pretty good.

Other than that, small screens are harder to break than big screens, and screen breakage is a common malady. So unless you're going to want to sit and pick through lists of songs on a regular basis, something with a smallish screen will be slightly more disaster proof.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:24 AM   #13
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Martha - I have a Samsung K3 and I'm very happy with it - I have a post on my site that has some pretty pictures of it and a story of my MP3 quest

I check out CDs from the library - rip them to the computer's hard drive - then download to the MP3 - a little learning curve but it's quick and easy once I got the hang of it..
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:40 AM   #14
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Danny, I read your site and googled around a bit on the Samsung K3. It does have the upside of having an FM tuner. However, if you need to buy music where do you buy it?
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:08 AM   #15
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Danny, I read your site and googled around a bit on the Samsung K3. It does have the upside of having an FM tuner. However, if you need to buy music where do you buy it?
Sorry can't help you there, I don't buy just check it out from the library and rip my own. I'm sure you can buy.
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:20 AM   #16
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Doesnt itunes allow you to download from apples music store and then send a song to a non-apple mp3 player? Never tried it but I think it does.

mp3.com, allofmp3.com, emusic.com, rhapsody, virgin digital, musicmatch etc. Theres a ton.

I think you can also download from microsofts service and then load the mp3's in with whatever tool that comes with your player.
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:33 AM   #17
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Note that you can record anything that you can play on your computer. It's not always easy, and you might have to download a different sound card driver (e.g. the drivers that ship with most Dell computers don't allow it). In the worst case, you can connect your headphone jack to your line-in jack and record that way.
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:34 PM   #18
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I buy and download most of my music through Walmart.com. Much of it is in WMA format with DRM license so it doesn't work with an iPod, but they've started doing some in mp3.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:16 PM   #19
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Well I ordered the $79 second generation reconditioned 4gig iPod nano. Wanted blue but would have had to pay 20 bucks more for anything other than silver.

I do wish it had fm radio, but it just wasn't a big enough deal. In any event, it should help make those winter treadmill walks a little less tediously boring.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:19 PM   #20
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This is a nice toy for $40:

Buy.com - Sandisk Sansa e250 2GB MP3 Player, FM tuner, FM on-the-fly Recording, Built-in microphone, Video, Expandable Memory - Refurbished - SDMX4-2048R
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