Final Chapter in Cammy’s MP3 Player Search

Yeah.  I’m one of those Apple people now.  It’s blue and shall henceforth be known as The Smurf.

I caved to recommendations from my brother, who was basically sold on the iPod Nano 5th generation being the player I needed.  He has issues with purchasing anything you can’t handle in a store first and my options either had not yet come out or aren’t carried by any brick-and-mortar establishments in my area. I gave in when I focused on the fact that the other two alternatives I was leaning toward both had touch screens.  And as I told a friend this week, touchscreens and I agreed not to see each other anymore because I’m in love with real buttons.

Given that the new nanos are now touch-screen only, I understand that when this player (inevitably) gives out, I’m going to have to adapt and reexamine my break-up with the touchscreen.  But until then, the Nano has given me the excuse to maintain a little more “time-apart” from the world of touchscreens.

I’m pleased with the operation so far.  It charge easily, loaded the initial dump of total crap and I’m happy to have the ability to set multiple world clocks.  I hadn’t expected to find games on the thing, so that was nice.  I’m getting used to the whole click-wheel thing–I had some misgivings about it when I started trying to navigate, but I think we’ll manage (it’s a much healthier relationship than the touchscreen and I had).

But, it’s not perfect.  There’s no good way to view what percentage charge the thing has while it’s connected–hell, you can’t use the thing while it’s charging, which is also a surprise to me.  And for the contacts?  Seriously?  I have to use Micro$oft “Look Out!” for my contacts?  Thanks but no thanks.  It’s bad enough I’m stuck using Apple’s proprietary crap, I’m NOT going to agree to use Outlook.  You can’t make me!  I already had to give up Songbird for iTunes, and bid farwell to my Ogg and FLAC files (until someone does a stable port of Rockbox for the Nano 5g).

And with that, The Smurf and I are off for more adventures in file syncing.  Then we’re going shopping for some kind of skin to cover the Apple logo on the back….

Well, That Was a Waste

So, as I mentioned earlier this summer, I’m in the market for an MP3 player.  Despite my severe hesitation about Apple, on the recommendation of my brother, and a few of you gentle readers, I set aside my prejudices and the iPod Nano was in the running.

But, since I’m a patient and slow shopper when it comes to major purchases (and anything over $90 is still major in my book), several folks suggested that I hold off and wait for the NEW iPod release in September.  Okay.  Fair enough.  The iPod Nano was growing on me and taking the lead on the contenders, but if a new one was coming out, well, then, it only made sense to wait for the latest and greatest.

So, when the announcement of a big reveal from Apple slated for 1 Sept. started floating through geek-world, I actually paid attention.  For the first time in my life, I actually gave a damn about one of Apple’s look-at-me brouhahas.  Time to find out what I was almost certain I would buy.

Yeah.

No.

Seriously?  I waited for that?

It’s a frickin’ Sansa Clip+ with pretty pictures.  It lost the camera.  It has a smaller screen.  It holds NO appeal for me.  Honestly, the new iPod nano redesign is laughable.  I’m not interested in the accessibility features, I’m not sold on touch-screens, there’s no way to watch movies on this thing, I don’t care about the shake-to-change feature (which, incidentally, was also something available in a low-cost Sansa Shaker Mp3 player years ago).

I wouldn’t care much if I hadn’t let myself get excited thinking it would actually improve on the prior version.  I liked the form factor of the previous incarnation of the Nano.  Liked the camera.  Was hoping for more connectivity you’d find in the iPod touch, without the size.

The only upside of my waiting is that other manufacturers generally release in and around September based on the Apple release schedule.  Archos and Samsung both have offerings either already out or coming out very soon which are likely to win out now–they both have the features I’m looking for and price points lower than Apple.  I gave it a shot, but right now, unless last-year’s Nano goes on deep discount sale now that the new model is out, I just don’t think I’m likely to wind up an Apple customer this time.

I’m thinking that I just don’t fit their market demographic.

I’m Not Sure I Want That Apple….

I’m facing a bit of a dilemma.  My Mp3 player is starting to act quirky and I fear the time to replace it is coming sooner rather than later.  The player is very simple.  It cost me all of about $35 when I bought it, which was great.  I needed a low-priced device to play MP3s–my budget was limited and my needs were simple:  play music.

But at this point in my life, I have a bit more disposable income and I can consider something slightly more upscale than the stripped down little player.  While I’m fine with just seen the plain text of the artist name and song on the black and white display, I wouldn’t be opposed to a little larger display that’s easier to navigate.  Which brings me to the real dilemma:

Do I want to sell out and get an iPod?

I’ve not consumed the Apple Kool-Aid, so I know that these devices are not without flaws which are to be considered in evaluating them against non-Apple devices.  But my problem is that Apple brings with it other baggage.  Baggage that shouldn’t matter in a detached and logical evaluation of functionality of electronic items, but which ultimately thrusts itself into every attempt to look at any item bearing the Apple logo.  It’s baggage that I used to find mildly annoying but which has become so onerous that I actually find it repulsive enough that I wind up dismissing Apple out of hand if I’m not careful.

That problem with Apple is its users.

It pains me to say it, but it’s like dealing with a friggin’ cult.  Even people that I consider close and dear friends seem to morph into pretentious monsters under the influence of these otherwise fairly inoffensive and innocuous electronic implements.  And it’s really not the device itself, it’s the culture that builds up around them.  If I get told that someone has an “Ap” for something during a dinner conversation as they whip out that iPhone, I will feed that someone their teeth.  And the iPad hype?  I was fine with the release hoopla, until an acquaintance, wielding his shiny new iPad (which, incidentally, if his financial bitching is to be believed, he really couldn’t afford–just like he can’t afford the iPhone he stood in line for this week), proceeded to mock, and deride netBooks in the face of the power of the iPad.  Beg pardon, gentle readers, but….Fuck that.  I happen to love my little Asus Netbook (she’s named Inara, btw) and while the iPad to which I was subjected to a forced introduction (I think it might actually have been an attempted indoctrination) was a nifty gizmo with some neat interface features, it could in no way, shape or form replace my Inara, who, ya know, has a keyboard–something I find essential for the amount of typing I do.  She also plays movies, surfs the net, plays Mp3s, games and does just about everything else an iPad does.  Yes, she might be slightly thicker than an iPad, but for that keyboard, it doesn’t matter.  And no, Apple users, the touch pad does not work for me.  I actually had a conversation with a computer engineer about this and he explained that touch pad interfaces, while vastly improved, are just not quite there for extensive typing like I do.  And apparently the frustration is compounded when one types quickly, which I do.  So, ya know.  Just not my thing.  Also, when I finally decide I want to ditch the Win7 Starter than came installed on Inara?  I can easily slap on Linux.

It’s a shame really, because about the time when Apple users started in on the widespread superiority kick is also about the time when I was finally starting to give Apple some real respect.  When the Mac OS when to X, which was a Unix based system, my opinion of Apple went through the roof.  I was starting to think of purchasing one.  The price has always been an issue, but I came close.  And, of course, even before the change to OS X, I was able to acknowledge the important role Apple played for film and graphics folks.  I fully expect that if I start working more with video I will look more seriously at Apple for a desktop machine, specifically for the power in video editing at a reasonable price.

But it’s hard to remember that when I find myself surrounded by the Apple-junkies who behave as though living without an Apple device puts one in the dark ages, and to even consider a similar device from anyone else is tantamount to pure barbarism.  I actually had someone look at me like I was a circus freak when they found out that not only did I NOT have an iPod, I had SOME OTHER BRAND.  Apparently it’s better not to have anything at all.  Who knew?

So with this kind of brand-cultism surrounding the iPod, I’m wary of them.  It might be a great device, but I live in fear that I’ll either spend that extra (because, let’s face it, Apple’s prices can always be beat, unless you’re comparing their video/audio/graphics software vs. other professional level systems, then they’re a friggin’ bargain) and not feel it was worth it, or, even if it is worth it, that I might, in possessing one of these items in public be mistaken for one of the members the pompous, brand-drunk tribe who consumed the Apple kool-aid.