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Will Sony fight with iPod or ZUNE?

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Usually I know exactly what I want to listen to

Me too. That's why there is ratings. :) I simply don't have time finding the music I want among hundreds of albums. Smart playlist can cycle my favorite songs automatically. The only thing I still find missing is BPM info from gracenote/CDDB. With that included in the tags, I will have fine-tuned mixes of my Eurobeat collections. :D

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I'm very much like Dinko. I don't care about smart playlists and everything that may want to decide anything for me. What I do care in a media player is ease of use in terms of library organization. For my listening habits, even SonicStage is better than iTunes. And WMP 11 is much better than anything else I've seen. I love how it displays piles of covers either by genre, composer, artist, album artist etc. and then, when you go to a particular list of songs, lets you jump to everything for that artist, genre or year just with one click. It's intelligent and flexible.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, it's been more than a week since I got the 80GB iPod and have been playing around with it, so I think it makes sense to give my opinion on it, from the perspective of someone who has owned the NW-HD1 and the NW-A3000 for the past two years. I still don't like the iPod, or better saying, don't like the aura that people attribute to it, the "I'm so cool it hurts" attitude that is especially prevalent in New York. I also find its design bland (actually, I like the nano, but not the regular iPod that I bought). Still, paying $350 for 80GB and gapless playback is a very good deal, and since I'm not using those iSheeep white headphones, I don't mind how the hidden player in my pocket looks (not counting the fact it fits better in my pocket than the A3000). Sony has much to go before offering something that can match that.

I've already mentioned I don't like how iTunes organizes its library, something that has to do with my preference for classical music and to be album-oriented. SonicStage works better in that sense to my tastes. I also had my share of problems with iTunes. Once, it bungled MP3 tags I've edited on it, making a 5 min track list as being 23 min long. I had to use VBRfix to correct lots of files. It also crashed once while updating the iPod, and then, when I went to use the player, some tracks were still in the library, but would simply skip. Had to reset it. That said, iTunes works better than SonicStage for transferring music to the player and to do automatic sync. Connect Player would update a file if you edited metadata, for instance, but you had to be lucky to have it working most of the time as iTunes does.

Gapless playback works fine on the iPod. In some files, I notice you can't seek a position just before track transition to check the gaplessness. It doesn't work. But when you play the track from the beginning, the transition goes smoothly. Nice job there, much better than what Sony does, since it's not restricted to a format.

Whatever some people say about the neutral sound of iPod or its many qualities, I find the Walkman noticeably better. It sounds more vivid. That becomes apparent when listening at low volumes. I notice I can't listen to the iPod at low volumes (say, less than a third of max) even at night, when ambient noise is much reduced. The sound becomes muddy, details get lost. That doesn't happen with the Walkman, using the exact same headphones, the Shure E3 and Ety's ER6. I use the Walkman without any EQ'ing, and the iPod on classical.

The interface of the iPod looks primitive when you think it's still behind, in some aspects, what Rio offered on the Karma three years ago. I don't know why they don't add a context menu. Instead of using the center button for adding tracks or albums to the on-the-go playlist, why don't they give you the option to jump back to the now playing screen, to alter the order of tracks, go to that artist or genre list of albums/tracks? And why pressing menu from the now playing screen always takes you back to the last menu you've seen, instead of the track list of the album you're playing? I understand that may have its uses, but in general it seems to me more natural to go back to the track list. It doesn't make much sense that you may have to click up to six times just to see what the tracks that you're playing are. Sony's interface for the A series have some quite interesting innovations that should be copied by others, like the ability to highlight artist, album or genre names and by clicking on them jump to their respective lists. I also don't think the click wheel makes it much easier than the A series' combination of vertical and horizontal scrolling to browse big lists, since, at least to me, the click wheel is more difficult to control to get to exact names. The whole thing, though, is that the iPod is better executed. There's nothing of those stupid lags you find in the A series to get to the menu. It's not a fantastic player, but does its job.

Edited by Beethovenian
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The whole thing, though, is that the iPod is better executed.

It's not a fantastic player, but does its job.

And those two phrases sum up exactly why some of us who believe the iPod to be an inferior player are probably going to get an iPod next time we're in the market for a DAP.

They also explain why the much-made-fun-of "average Joe" gets an iPod and never thinks back, making the iPod a near monopoly, while many who got burned by Sony, UMS or Windows-based devices end up buying an iPod.

Beethovenian, many thanks for your comments on the 80GB iPod.

Edited by Dinko
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You're right, Dinko. Sadly, because I think the iPod is an overrated product. It's a good one, no doubt, and does what it proposes to do better than others (ah, Sony...), but now that I own one I wonder why the little annoyances I face are never raised by the media, especially when the reviewers may complain about these issues when they talk about iPod competitors. There's an incredible goodwill towards Apple. Somehow it captured the "cool" factor so well that nobody seems to be willing to risk criticizing it, as if you could not be cool doing so. But indeed I see now very few reasons to avoid having one. To me, gapless was the dealbreaker. It stopped being one.

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Sony's got a really good iPod killer in the Vaio Pocket. I've had mine for over a year and it's great! I have had no problems with it. I don't hear much about it since the NW- series has come out, but are there plans to upgrade the firmware with video or anything else?

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  • 1 month later...

I've already mentioned I don't like how iTunes organizes its library, something that has to do with my preference for classical music and to be album-oriented. SonicStage works better in that sense to my tastes. I also had my share of problems with iTunes. Once, it bungled MP3 tags I've edited on it, making a 5 min track list as being 23 min long. I had to use VBRfix to correct lots of files. It also crashed once while updating the

Hi Beethovenian -

I myself have made the switch to iPod recently for the same reason you and others here have. I actually like the sound quality - to me it is on par with my HD-3. All is not equal though for my comparison since on my HD-3 I was using ATRAC at 105 and on my iPod I'm using 192 VBR mp3 (-V2 LAME). Why the difference? Disc space!

Regarding your problem with the time not being displayed correctly and having to use vbrfix - I encountered the same problem at first. I found that using the latest version of LAME that comes with the latest version of foobar2000 solved the problem. The latest version of foobar2000 also has a nice tagging facility. If you use foobar2000's tagging facility, make sure you have the latest version and check the "compatability option" in the tagging options settings. Otherwise you will get little boxes at the end of each tag. (Yes, just like SS, iTunes has its warts).

I agree iTunes isn't quite "all that"; there are things about SS that I like better than iTunes. However, this is trumped by the fact that I can use 3rd party tools such as foobar2000 and drag the results into iTunes. Because SS doesn't support gapless mp3 playback, you are forced to use it as both an encoder (no 3rd party ATRAC encoders out there) and library manager. No longer do I have to convert FLAC or APE files to WAV and then drag them an album at a time into SS and label them there. Now, I convert FLAC and APE directly to mp3 all at once, run the tagger to automatically tag, and then simply drag the files into iTunes.

My favorite capability of the iPod and iTunes is that I can maintain a playlist that is a subset of my music collection that is automatically sync'ed to my iPod. I can manage what I want on my iPod without the device even connected. Once I'm done, I connect my iPod and my changes are made automatically. And I can maintain a separate playlist that represents music to be uploaded to my wife's Nano.

When I first got my iPod, I ran into some frustrating issues like the track duration being off. And at first I thought "so what is everybody so ga-ga about iTunes for - it's not any better than SS!!". Yes, there was ramp up time just like when I first started using SS and my Sony devices. But the more I used it and understood how to get around some of the warts and grasped auto-syncing with specific playlists, the more I realized iPod was just better for me.

Hope some of this helps you.


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I'm simply waiting for the Video Walkman that should be announced soon. Hopefully Sony can get it right. I don't know why they aren't capitalizing on the busy Winter season to release it, very stupid move. But if this Walkman is great, then I guess it will make up for it. I have an iPod, I'm a basic music listener, so I think it's fine. However, I hate it's battery life (or lack thereof), I barely get more than 4-5 hours on a single charge. I don't want Microsoft products, so I'm not even paying attention to the Zune, hopefully Sony can make a killer product. Anybody know anything about it?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't have the numbers at hand, but we can safely assume that we, as Sony Walkman users, are just a marginal 'bunch' compared to the huge iPod community.

I have my reasons and explanations why iPod was/is this much successful. First of all, Apple managed to create a 'legend' around the product by joining forces with U2 and Madonna, which boosted the popularity of the device and its name. In addition to this, they have convinced car manufacturers to offer iPod interfaces for customers. Yes, they are called "iPod interface" and not Walkman or iRiver or Creative Labs.

Secondly, the concept combining the software (iTunes) and with $0.99 single-track purchase option was an instant hit. Like me, there are millions of people, who would love to have a single song, instead of buying the whole album.

To make the long story short, Apple successfully promoted iPod via various prominent names/brands. They are not an easy rival to defeat.

Just read the message on the forum that NW-A3000 have been discontinued. Sony had announced this player back in September, 2005. It 'survived' the market just for 12 months and now it's a part of the history. For me, this is an indication that things didn't go well for Sony in terms of sales figures.

Whether iPod is an overrated product or not, we have to agree that it's a huge commercial success regardless of the negative comments. Everything is running around iPod, it has a huge follower base, it has infinite number of accessories etc.

Now iPod is that what Sony Walkman was in the 80s.

That said, I love my NW-A3000 :)

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