Music sounds better with you

Published on 1 July 2008 in , ,

Well if my Rio Karma wasn’t broken enough already, one suspects it’s in a worse state this morning. I was casually putting it away outside the office after the morning commute, walking at the same time as I have done hundreds of times before, only for me to drop it, where it then bounced on the floor, straight into the water at the bottom of the fountain.

Cue one drenched MP3 player, now also with a slightly cracked screen to boot.

Yes, well. As it happens, the Karma’s replacement had already been ordered (online, not from Curry’s obviously) but my hopes of the Rio having some sort of post-daily-use afterlife seem remote now, bar some minor miracle.

But that aside, finding a replacement wasn’t particularly easy in the first place – for the simple question of a complete lack of choice.

When it got down to it, I had three purchasing criteria – one of which was Ogg Vorbis support, and frankly that seemed to be mission impossible these days, so it came down to just two – price and capacity.

Disk space really is the biggy – the Rio Karma has 20Gb, and whilst it’s not full yet, I’ve still got a few gigs of music files on my PC waiting to be sorted, and of course I keep buying more music so I’d be looking at 30Gb at least. But given most MP3 players do videos these days, I could easily fill that up with episodes of Red Dwarf or something, to help idle away the time on occassional long train journeys!

Unfortunately when it comes to high capacity MP3 players (well, above 16Gb), well there’s not much out there. You’re looking iPods and very little else. On the high street, PC World offer a 40Gb Archos for £199.99 – although this is a video focused device rather than music. Online at Dabs, you can have a 32Gb Creative Zen for £199.98 which compares less favourably with an 80Gb iPod Classic which comes in at around £151.28. John Lewis’s website lists only Apple products above 30Gb. There’s supposed to be a 40Gb iRiver model (with elusive Ogg Vorbis support) on sale, but I haven’t seen it on sale anywhere.

It’s a sharp contrast to the 1-8Gb level where there’s a huge amount of choice, and a large battle for the money.

I’ve nothing really against the iPod, although I find scrolling through artist lists slower than my Karma. However I’m someone who has an irrestistable urge not to follow the crowd (hey, I use Linux!) and not wear those white earphones. Like everyone else is. But paying more, for less, just for that kind of principle is rather pointless.

Why is there so little competition in the high capacity market? I refuse to believe that everyone who has a large music collection are all Apple-heads. And I can’t quite believe that someone couldn’t undercut, or at least match the iPod price if they tried. I find it rather strange that few people are doing – and that if they are, no one appears to be selling them.

And if there’s no choice, an iPod it has to be. An 80Gb Classic in black actually. Enough room for my music collection to grow, and enough space for more than a few TV shows to idle away train journeys to Manchester with. And maybe the odd episode of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue for good measure.

Of course I’ll have to get it running under Linux – I can’t stand iTunes. It’s a slow, horrible, klunky application – I especially dislike the fact you have to add stuff to your music folder via iTunes itself, rather than just copying the files into the directory and have iTunes automatically pick it up. I recently synced the same files up onto my Karma and Catherine’s iPod. The Karma was done in about four minutes – with the iPod it took about 20 minutes, and it was all iTune hassles.

iTunes obviously doesn’t run under Linux – you can run it via Wine, but Wine doesn’t allow applications access to USB devices, so you can’t sync an iPod on it.

Now there are ways of getting recent iPods running in Linux, but when I tried it last with Catherine’s iPod, it “wiped” the hard disk off. That said online instructions appear to have been improved drastically in the 8 months since I last tried it, then so I will be giving it another go.

Of course all this is a distraction from the one true question that has been outstanding. The name. Everything has to have a name. After all, my main PC is called humbug; the old laptop is muffin; the Rio Karma is gouda; the new laptop is edam; my gym MP3 player (a recent addition – more on that later) is called sprout. What do you call a black iPod then?


  • Kirk says:

    I was won over by iPods. After trying everyone else’s MP3 players, including the afore mentioned Karma, I tried someone’s iPod. It was like an epiphany.
    Now I’m on a touch. It quite simply is the best music player ever (except for no hardware volume control) and the interface is much better than the standard iPods. And the Shuffle is the second best music player ever.
    Every now and then, someone mocks my iPod and shows me theirs. It’s usually got a horrible UI, and is bulky and heavy. Even worse the people who use some godawful interface on their phones.
    I never liked Apple before I got my iPod either so I’m not a mad fanboy. Ah well.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    I haven’t tried the Touch, although I did have a play with the iPhone – took me a while to get used to it.
    On the main iPod, I think the thing that erks me most is the Artists and Album lists – when you have a lot of artists, there’s a lot of scrolling. The Rio Karma allowed you to break that down – show only the A’s or the Z’s or whatever. I haven’t seen that on the iPod and frankly it’s the feature I’ll miss the most.
    Still, it didn’t take long for me to get Amarok working with it – although it hasn’t put the album covers on which is a niggle, but not essential.
    As for the Shuffle, well I was going to come onto that one in another post!

  • Kirk says:

    Jump to a letter you say?
    The Touch takes a little getting used to, but once you are it’s much quicker than the clickwheel. And a much more fluid interface.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    There is one problem with the Touch though – well besides the cost! Nah, the bigger problem is that the hard drive ain’t big enough!

  • dennis binks says:

    do not buy from currys they are a compleat waste of time as you cannot get anything repaired after £20 worth of phone calls still havent got anywere lcd tv broken down just a week out of garrentee . you cannot talk to anyone it is like fort knox you cannot get in to any conversation with them wont buy from them even if it is my last resort a compleat waste of time once they have yore monney thats it they dont want to know