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Thread: People are idiots (or... "why portable music players suck")

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    Comfortably Numb directhex's Avatar
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    People are idiots (or... "why portable music players suck")

    Who here has some kind of portable music player? What do you do with it? How do you use it, and where? On the bus? At home? On the loo?

    Now, ask yourself, "what do I want a portable music player to be able to do?". Which of the following come top of your list?

    1. Games
    2. Calendar
    3. Photo viewing
    4. Stopwatch
    5. Video playback
    6. Long battery life
    7. FM radio
    8. High quality DAC
    9. Usable album metadata (e.g. select tracks by a certain artist)
    10. Extensive audio codec support
    11. Color screen
    12. Fashionable form factor
    13. Read documents (e.g. .txt)
    14. Aural enhancements (e.g. parametric equaliser)
    15. Album (gapless) support


    Let's divide that list in two - the "portable music player" choices, and the, well, "not" choices

    Portable players should have these
    • Long battery life
    • FM radio
    • High quality DAC
    • Usable album metadata (e.g. select tracks by a certain artist)
    • Extensive audio codec support
    • Aural enhancements (e.g. parametric equaliser)
    • Album (gapless) support


    A good PDA should have these
    • Games
    • Calendar
    • Photo viewing
    • Stopwatch
    • Video playback
    • Color screen
    • Fashionable form factor
    • Read documents (e.g. .txt)


    So... What percentage of the first list do you have? What percentage of the second? I'll give the split for my current player, a Rio Karma: 71%:13%. I'd say that's pretty reasonable - I have no reason to care about the stuff on the second list really, since other things can do them better.

    How about other players on the market?

    iPod w/ Video: 29%:88%
    Zen Vision:m: 57%:50%
    iAudio X5L: 43%:63%

    Spot the pattern? No player, let alone the market leader, has any focus on what makes a portable music player worthwhile - music.

    My Karma is currently dying. It's not a massively reliable player. But I can't bring myself to buy a replacement from anything on the market - why is ti still impossible to play Pink Floyd on any current player bar a Sony with ATRAC3 files? What makes it so hard to support the most popular lossless codec, which any recent live recording will have been made with? Who the **** gives a **** about being able to play crappy games on their portable music player, further decreasing the battery life, when a DS or PSP can do it better?

    Call me a grumpy old git, but to me, it looks like the mobile phone market all over again - too much focus on pointless things like mobile TV, not enough on enhancing the main point of the device.

  2. #2
    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    I'm looking at replacing my Karma with an Archos AV500. Going for that one for a couple of reasons. I mainly use the karma when traveling (otherwise i use my K750 with 1gig card) and would like to be abl;e to play films too. Especially when i'm in Norway

    The second reason is i want the 100gig model so i can have my whole music collection (in MP3 or WMA, not decided yet) with me and have room to spare.

    Not seen anything else that competes for me

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    Senior Member pr0p4g4nd4's Avatar
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    People are stupid, that's been know for a while! I love my PSP and Zen Nano while on the go, both white to I'm looking into getting an iPod I just love apple's designs, their interfaces and their simplicity. Even though as a hardcore geek I should be getting an iRiver and playing oggs vorbis files *rolls eyes*

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    We all have what we consider necessary and unecessary. There is no *one* way to use any players.

    I could say that a stopwatch on a PDA is useless. Why bother with that when you have a watch? Oh wait, not everyone have watches. Some people use their mobiles to know for the time.
    Not everyone wants a PDA. But some people may for instance want to transfer pictures from their camera to some kind of hardisks to save them from carrying multiple memory card. It certainly would be a better option than to carry a laptop around when traveling. In this case, the person with a HD based player with that feature will be well happy. I am actually quite sure that some of the minor additions do not cost much money for the company, nor the consumer.

    Now don't get me wrong, I would trade colour screen for better DAC or any Optical out any day. Assuming it is otherwise the same player anyway. But perhaps that is just not how most people use their players. It doesn't make them, you or me any more of an idiot. At least no more than people carrying watches when they have a mobile phone.

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    unapologetic apologist
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    I want the Archos AV500 too, though will prob go for the 60GB version (AV560). Currys / Dixons / PC world were selling them at Christmas for 299 incl, but didn't have the cash at the time. 100Gb is too much $$$

    like the PVR aspect too. Friend has the 400 series 100GB, and while it's smooth, the screen isn't a patch on the 500 series for video.

    *longing*

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    HEXUS.timelord. Zak33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by directhex
    Now, ask yourself, "what do I want a portable music player to be able to do?". Which of the following come top of your list?

    Portable players should have these
    • Long battery life
    • FM radio
    • High quality DAC
    • Usable album metadata (e.g. select tracks by a certain artist)
    • Extensive audio codec support
    • Aural enhancements (e.g. parametric equaliser)
    • Album (gapless) support
    Long Battery life: Agreed
    FM Radio: Agreed but not if it insists on using the damn headohone wire as an aerial, cos when you lie down to mellow, you lose the damn station
    High Quality DAC: Agreed (and not much dough any more)
    Usable Album Data: Agreed ....fully and sincerely
    Extensive Audio Codec Support: Agreed
    Aural Enhancements: Nope....no good to me at all. If it sounds pooh, making it sound pooh in a wider arena makes it wide pooh...nothing more.
    Album Support: Agreed.

    SO.....is there one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Advice Trinity by Knoxville
    "The second you aren't paying attention to the tool you're using, it will take your fingers from you. It does not know sympathy." |
    "If you don't gaffer it, it will gaffer you" | "Belt and braces"

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    Senior Member ajbrun's Avatar
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    As far as I know, my MP3 player (iAudio M3) has all the features from the first list, and only 1 (the text file support), or 2 if you think it's stylish from the second list. I really don't see the point in playing video on an MP3 player.

    However, a few years ago, I didn't see the point of a camera on a phone. Now that camera phone technology has improved, I'll probably be getting a camera on the next phone I buy. This is simply because although I have a camera, I never really use it, and all the picture I wish I'd taken were spur of the moment things where you never have you camera on you anyway.

    It all depends what you're after, and how you'll use it. Generally, all technology that was for one purpose a few years ago, is all merging together to be (almost) the same.

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    Comfortably Numb directhex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajbrun
    As far as I know, my MP3 player (iAudio M3) has all the features from the first list, and only 1 (the text file support), or 2 if you think it's stylish from the second list. I really don't see the point in playing video on an MP3 player.
    no gapless; directory-based rather than metadata-based browsing. and the DAC's so-so

    as is my understanding anyway

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    Comfortably Numb directhex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33
    Long Battery life: Agreed
    FM Radio: Agreed but not if it insists on using the damn headohone wire as an aerial, cos when you lie down to mellow, you lose the damn station
    High Quality DAC: Agreed (and not much dough any more)
    Usable Album Data: Agreed ....fully and sincerely
    Extensive Audio Codec Support: Agreed
    Aural Enhancements: Nope....no good to me at all. If it sounds pooh, making it sound pooh in a wider arena makes it wide pooh...nothing more.
    Album Support: Agreed.

    SO.....is there one?
    the karma does all but the radio - but it's unreliable and discontinued

    am i the only one frustrated that the market is adding more & more flashy ****e without fixing the fact that all players essentially suck at their basic function?

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    Seething Cauldron of Hatred TheAnimus's Avatar
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    as much as this thread makes me agree with hex (which is always scary)

    one thing i felt is missing.

    if its usb, its to present itself as a usb removeable volume, bob standard class, no driver needed.
    throw new ArgumentException (String, String, Exception)

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    Comfortably Numb directhex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAnimus
    as much as this thread makes me agree with hex (which is always scary)

    one thing i felt is missing.

    if its usb, its to present itself as a usb removeable volume, bob standard class, no driver needed.
    and as much as i hate to break my vow of ignore list, i think this is a relatively important thing to have - to a point. i don't want to be tied into a particular application for a particular os which might not exist tomorrow to transfer music.

    that said, the karma's java-based transfer app, which works on most things from macos to solaris, is a reasonable compromise as far as non-UMS devices goes, and it's preferable to having to use Sony Connect

    plus, the only reason i like UMS is it doesn't tie me to windows, and i thought you'd start a flame war if i pointed out i like non-windowsability in a player

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    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by directhex
    no gapless; directory-based rather than metadata-based browsing. and the DAC's so-so

    as is my understanding anyway

    Sorry but the iAudio M3 gets my vote as well. It does have gapless (or at least it claims it does) I've found it's as gapless as an Ipod and the sound quality is top notch with Shure EC2's, better than ipod and the like. May be not as good Creative but the build quality & reliabilty beats Creative, Rio & Apple hands down. Plus the fact that you don't have to get the thing out of your pocket to see whats playing or change track & volume makes it clear winner in my eyes.

    Shame they dont make it anymore.

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    Comfortably Numb directhex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimborae
    I've found it's as gapless as an Ipod
    worst accolade ever



    that's not gapless in any way, shape, or form.

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    Senior Member joshwa's Avatar
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    The worst thing about my current MP3 Player, the Archos Gmini XS200, is that if you are currently in the middle of a 500 song playlist, then switch it off, switch it on again, click resume, you then have to wait about 30 seconds for it to reindex all the tracks... however, it can actually remember it's position in the middle of a long playlist after being switched off, something the ipod can't do...

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    I'd say my W800i, using your chart, is about.. 80%:100%

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    Umm...

    W800i:
    * Long battery life - Check.. if you don't make calls that is.
    * FM radio - Check (I think you need to use the provided headphones don't you? I don't remember - I haven't found the need for a radio for years)
    * High quality DAC - Not really - better than some generic player but not going to win any award
    * Usable album metadata (e.g. select tracks by a certain artist) - I don't recall so, then again, I mostly put things from different artists on my w800i so I just use it like a Shuffle really. Play and forget.
    * Extensive audio codec support - MP3 and? ATRAC? I am not sure, but I doubt it does all the fancy Ogg etc. Hardly what one consider "extensive".
    * Aural enhancements (e.g. parametric equaliser) - Nope.
    * Album (gapless) support - Not there either.

    Don't get me wrong, the W800i has its place, but it doesn't quite meet directhex's need. Plus, going from a 20GB karma down to 2GB memory stick (and thats if you swap the 512MB it comes with) is quite a big downgrade there too.

    For my use, the only pre-requisite from his list I value is high quality DAC, MP3+Loessless support good UI (including metadata navigation), Parametric equaliser, Gapless, in roughly that order. But I have a few more things I would add to my own pre-requisite list. I don't have a need for a radio, 20+ hours of battery life is good but not a requirement, I don't really use anything else but lossless or MP3. But I do have some number of pre-requisite that I value on top of it.

    If we were all to design our ideal players (with restrictions.. a la when you design a custom character in an RPG), we'd probably all end up with something different.
    Last edited by TooNice; 29-03-2006 at 11:35 PM.

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