Succumbing to the invasion of the iPod people.

I’ve joined the countless millions who have had their ears invaded my small white buds that connect to the infernal device pictured over on there on the right commonly known as an iPod. More specifically, it’s an iPod Mini which is a model they don’t even make anymore having been replaced by the iPod Nano some time ago. My subversion was originally scheduled to happen about this time last year, but the untimely cancellation of my contract by the folks at Ford Motor Company ensured that I wasn’t around to go to my contract house’s annual Employee Appreciation dinner where they handed these out in celebration of 20 years of business. Turns out, though, that they had quite a few more left over than they anticipated and now that I’m working in-house for the company my HR rep dug up the iPod that had my name on it and got it to me today. So this little 4GB instrument of hearing loss didn’t cost me a dime. Which, ironically, makes it difficult to judge its value.

I’ve kind of wanted an MP3 player of some sort for quite awhile, but not so much that I made a special effort to get one and I wasn’t particularly worried if it was an iPod. My opinion was that they seemed cool enough, but like most of Apple’s products, were overpriced. This is, in fact, the first Apple product I’ve ever owned mainly because I could never bring myself to spend the extra money when there were alternatives that suited my needs just fine for less money. Like I said, though, I hadn’t really made an effort to get any MP3 player because I do most of my music listening in the car where I have a perfectly good in-dash CD player. At home and work I don’t tend to listen to music all that often and I’ve not really stuck to any serious effort at exercising where having an MP3 player might come in handy.

I’ve only been playing around with it for a couple of hours or so and my initial impression is that it’s “nifty”, but has a couple of annoyances:

The first and foremost irritant is the necessity of using iTunes to load the damned thing up. I don’t care for iTunes as an MP3 player and I like it even less as a means of loading up an external device such as the iPod. My MP3 collection at the moment consists of some 3,400 files equaling around 16GB of space which is a lot of shit to have to sort through when you’re picking what you want to load onto your iPod. I thought I’d be able to just click the little check boxes next to each song and then tell it to load ‘em up and away I’d go, but it doesn’t work that way. So I went back through and CTRL-clicked on every title I wanted to load up and tried to drag and drop it onto the iPod only to have something not work right and it only copied one song. I didn’t really feel like CTRL-clicking all those files again and the little check boxes were still checked so I finally figured out a way to create a “smart list” that picked only the songs that were checked. In short, I didn’t find loading up the songs intuitive at all. Doing a little searching shows that there’s a couple of possible iTunes alternatives out there that I may have to give a try. I only own one album purchased through iTunes anyway and I don’t plan on buying any more songs from Apple due to the DRM they come with so I won’t need to use it all that often. Yes, I know I can strip the DRM with various software freely available on the net, but I’d rather not have to bother. There’s not that much new music I’m interested in anyway so I’ll just rip my CDs, which the majority of are from the mid-90s or earlier.

The other irritation is these damned ear buds. Maybe I just have funky shaped ears, but they feel like they’re about to fall out any second and the slightest head movement dramatically changes the sound quality as they shift in my ears. At the proper angle they sound great with good bass response, but then shift your head slightly and they sound like the cheapest transistor AM radio kit you can buy at Radio Shack. I suppose I just need to find the proper way of wedging them in so they stay in one spot. I sure as hell don’t think I can get away with dancing like they do in the commercials without them flying across the room.

Beyond those two things it’s not a bad little toy though the touch-sensitive shuttle dial takes some getting used to. It charges up pretty quickly (took about an hour or so plugged into the PC’s USB port) and it’s definitely much nicer to clip to your belt than the Walkman players of old which I used to own in my teen years. I’ve only loaded up 542.2MB out of the 4GB it has available and that’s already enough for 6 hours of non-stop music so that’s pretty cool. If you were to buy a similar model today it’d be the 4GB iPod Nano which runs around $249 and I don’t think I’d be willing to spend that much on this player, though the 512MB or 1GB iPod Shuffles for $69 and $99 respectively might be something I’d consider if I had to buy one. If you’re going to spend $249 on the 4GB model then you may as well spend the extra $50 and get the 30GB iPod for $299 and have a shit load more room.

For free, though, it’s a great bargain so my advice is to get someone else to buy one for you. Then you can be a wicked cool hipster just like me.

18 thoughts on “Succumbing to the invasion of the iPod people.

  1. Congrats on getting the iPod mini!  It sounds like it was engraved with your name.  Silly of them not to give it to you earlier, as it would clearly be ‘regifting’ if they gave it to someone else. 

    I bought the 40 GB iPod (b&w version) for myself as a graduation present almost two years ago.  I use it almost every day when I bike to work, or when I do housework. I agree that loading and unloading your music onto a 4 GB version would be a pain.  The only real advantage of the mini and nano are that they are solid-state devices, so you won’t get any skipping if you jog with them.  Since I only run when chased, the hard-drive version suits me just fine. 

    Regarding the earbuds, I hated the hard plastic ones that came with my iPod.  The really hurt my ears after wearing them for an hour or so.  I found a pair of Sony headphones at Target that have earbuds that resemble the ends of a stethoscope.  Since they are made to conform to the shape of your ear canal, they provide a good ‘seal’ and block out the ambient noise while remaining quite comfortable.  They are on the high price end though (~$40-50), and if you lose one of the rubber/silicon adaptors (say your cat eats it, like mine did) you have to use one of the other sized adaptors in the package which may not fit as well.

  2. “I sure as hell don’t think I can get away with dancing like they do in the commercials without them flying across the room.”

    But I would sure pay to see you try!  wink

  3. I got a Shuffle for free last summer by opening a bank account at TD Canada Trust. I use it a lot. There is a little Python program I use to bypass any need for iTunes. Once I got that on there, I was very happy with the device. (I had to learn the hard way about iTunes though – it rearranged and renamed all my mp3 folders.) I still get pissed off about that everytime I look for a song by an artist I don’t listen to that often and find everything scrambled from my usual folder formatting. My white earbuds broke already. Like most buds they never fit my ears properly anyway.

  4. When I was forced to buy an MP3 player (due to a total lack of people offering to buy me one) I ultimately ended up with the Creative MuVo TX/FM 1GB player.

    For the money ($125 from zipzoomfly) it was a great value.

    I’d think twice, before getting one again, though. Mainly because the 250 or so songs that you can put on get ulwieldy without any ability to organize your songs—unless you are happy with the “shuffle”-like inability to really pick what you want to hear.

    Also, the max volume isn’t very loud..which means that soft songs can’t be heard if there is background noise.

    I gave it 4 stars when I reviewed it on Amazon. I’d probably drop that 0.5 to 1 star now, after several months of use.

    Still a nice solid-state player.

  5. Dude, you do know how to create playlists, don’t you? It’s drag-and-drop from the library window to the bar on the left to make a basic playlist, or make a smart playlist based on rules and preferences. You can then update by playlist, rather than by song. I’ve never found anything as easy as iTunes.


  6. Quasar, no it didn’t literally have my name on it, just meant I was on the list to get one. They do have a cool engraving of the company’s logo on the back though. I think they’ve been handing out the spares as promotional items to important clients. I may have to look for replacement ear buds soon so thanks for the tip.

    MoS, I’m not much of a dancer much to my wife’s dismay. I tend to look like an epileptic beached whale when I dance so I try not to inflict it on an unsuspecting public too often.

    Sadie, if you’re happy with what you’ve got then there’s no need to switch.

  7. Did snuck in a post while I was replying so I’m double dipping.

    Dragging and dropping song by song isn’t my idea of efficient. I’d much rather pick all of the songs first and then tell it to make a playlist. What the hell is the point of the check boxes if not to pick songs to go into a playlist? Fortunately it turns out the smart list has an option for only using checked songs.

    I suppose it’s a case of making it too easy to use getting in the way of a power user.

  8. I’m one of those people who cannot use ear buds.  They don’t fit properly and fall out too easily.  I picked up a pair of Sony’s that fit over the individual ear for about $20 that suit me just fine.  I’m still waiting for my iPod, though.

    Congrats, Les, and rock out!

  9. The ear buds that come with the iPod aren’t the greatest. I got the Shure E4C sound-isolating earphones, and they’re great. They are, however, rather expensive. There are plenty of less expensive alternatives. In your case, some regular headphones that cover the ear might be a better option.

    The other commenter above is right about Playlists. That’s the way to choose which songs to load to the iPod. It’s unbelievably easy.

  10. They’ll set up intrusive CRM to make it impossible for most of us, so we’ll just go buy our music from pirates.  Not to save money so much, as to protect our music investment on the hunch that when the CRM needs some update or something, we won’t be able to listen to our music at all.

  11. Congrats on the freebie!  Personally, I don’t have a desire for an iPod, but then, I find the color a turn off.  Not to mention everytime I walk by the accessories in Fried’s Electronics, I’m amazed by the freakin’ markup in price for audio gear that’s been around for ages that gets painted white and labeled as iPod. 

    I bought my wife a Sandisk 1G that has voice recording and FM reception for $120 a year ago.  What annoyed me was that the Sandisk only uses a AAA, and not a AA batt.  I was impressed by one (I forget the manu) that actually used a small cell phone Li-ion battery.  Yeah, I know you can use NiCads, but you have to pull the batt out, and most chargers require 2 batts to be plugged in to recharge. 

    About 15 years ago, when I got my first Discman, the headphones were the “sideways” earbuds, about the diameter of a dime, took getting used to, but had the megabass and sounded damn good.  My wife had another model Discman, and her “sideways” earbud headphones were about the diameter of a freaking quarter.  I couldn’t stand them.  But damned if she didn’t have a badass discman – I never found another like it.

  12. I thought I’d be able to just click the little check boxes next to each song and then tell it to load ‘em up and away I’d go, but it doesn’t work that way.

    I know there’s a way to make the iPod only load the checked songs, since that’s the way I manage mine. I can’t check from this PC, but I’m pretty sure it’s under “Edit | Preferences…” on the iPod tab, only when you have the iPod connected. It’s insane, however, that this isn’t the default setting.

    Ah. Here you go. (Click “Learn More”)

  13. I’m usually an early adopter on electronics, but for some reason, I had let the whole MP3 thing go by me.  However, After finding out that I was going away for several weeks on business, I realized I better have something to listen to. 

    I couldn’t bring myself to buy an ipod though.  Instead I picked up the Philips version which is $20 cheaper and looks so much cooler (black faced touch screen with blue buttons).  Anyway, its 30Gb and sounds good. 

    The earbuds are really iritating, so I just use my standard old Sony headphones that fit over the ear.  The sound quality is much better as well.

    Have fun!

  14. I’ve gotta admit—I sneered at iPods. Then, my husband received a Nano 2gb as a gift and since he already has a SanDisk and a Creative Zen (he uses them for his audiobooks), I commandeered his Nano. Hated the earbuds, so he gave me a SanDisk set which feel better. I’m not crazy about earbuds—they fall out when I walk the dog. At any rate, I love my Nano, though I too hate all the iTunes crap and wish I could just load my mp3s. I think that if my husband would’ve gotten another generic mp3 player, I would’ve been just as happy with that one.

    I just like being able to put my favorite songs in a tiny device and be able to listen to my music without having to change disks or tapes—it’s all there, whenever I want it. I don’t have to search for the CD I want to listen to … I’m not bothering buying too many songs via iTunes since I highly doubt I’ll buy another iPod when this one craps out.

    As far as adding the songs to the library or whatever on iTunes, I finally figured out (today!) that I can just load a folder and it automatically converts whatever is convertible to whatever dickwad format the nano requires—I was importing them one at a time until I realized it was faster just to rip the cds. And our public library has a fantastic collection of cds, so I’m building up a great collection of stuff I like and pretty much no cost. (My husband rolls his eyes at some of it, particularly Enya, but I never claimed to have a high music IQ!)

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