In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

A music service and player to fit my needs

Lately, I've been looking at the market for mp3s players.  I've yet to buy one before, so I'm not yet committed to any of the services out there.  However, I'm finding it difficult to fit a service + player to really fits what I'm looking for.

In the player, there are a few things I want or plan to use it for:

  • Video support... use it when I travel to watch a movie or some shows recorded on my Media Center
  • 30gb... enough space to fit enough of whatever I need
  • Some way to interface it with my car, even just an FM transponder... that way I can take a better play list than my limited CD holder and 6-disc changer when I go to the Bay Area (where the radio stations suck)
  • Good battery life
  • I will tell you right off the bat that the iPod/iTunes is out of the question.  I had turned my wife onto iTunes and was going to be getting here an iPod Nano... iTunes awakened the inner music lover in her, leading to a lot of recent purchases, and some of the songs are ones we already have as regular mp3s or on CD that she just didn't know about.  This kind of got me thinking.  iTMS is not for us.

    What I want is a subscription service.  Flat rate, covers all our musical tastes, various spurges, and everything.  In my opinion, there are several advantages:

    • When you "buy" a song, you never actually own it.  You lose it, have to buy it again.  So don't view buying a song as getting anything tangible.
    • No need to build up your musical library with hundreds of dollars.  It is all right there.  It evolves with.  It handles your splurges for the days when you feel like 80s music.
    • Like entertaining guests?  Always have the music you need for the occasion.  No need to buy anything else.
    • Have songs you like listening to only once in a while, and never often enough to want to "buy"?  It is there whenever you want it.
    • Have a wife who "buys" odd songs and goes on buying sprees?  No extra costs as a result.
    • So I have my heart set on a subscription service above all.  That completely eliminates any Apple product.

      Now, what about the Zune that came out yesterday?  Don't think it will be my answer.  For starters, it uses it own Zune Marketplace, which only works with the Zune.  My wife would prefer a smaller player, about the size of the iPod Nano.  Can't get that with Zune Marketplace.  Then I would need to pay for two subscription services.  No thanks.  The Zune looks cool, but I don't buy the whole "social" aspect.  Having wi-fi is not really a selling point for me.  So what advantage does it have?  It certainly doesn't have compatibility.  On top of the Zune Marketplace let down, it also requires its own software.  Why not build on WMP11?  No... had to create their own Media Player-ish program just for the Zune.  I downloaded it and tried it... not impressed.  First, it doesn't support Vista (hello?  brand new device doesn't work on their own brand new OS?) and even on XP, it was sluggish and locked up on me.  It seems Microsoft took a Toshiba player, made it incompatible with everything else, slapped together their own software, and went to market.  In my opinion, they should have:

      • Taken the Toshiba player (yeah, it looks good... works for a first gen)
      • Made it compatible with PlayForSure
      • Not write their own software for it, and never thought of Zune Marketplace
      • Had it rely on WMP11 and Urge for the subscription service (especially since Urge is integrated with WMP11)
      • So this brings me to what my final decision will likely be.  I will likely go with Urge, since it is right there in WMP11, which I already have.  It works on Vista no problem.  I think it may even work through Media Center.  It supports tons of devices.  And the devices range from regular palm sized to mini nano/pocket sized.  I can get one my size and my wife can have her smaller one.  I am leaning towards the Creative Zen Vision:M and think the SanDisk Sansa would fit my wife best.

        Apple would have won if they had a subscription service... maybe someday.  And perhaps the second generation Zune will look better... the device itself looks stellar, but looks like Microsoft made some bad decisions on the other details.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

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