Monday, March 20, 2006

Sidetracked but successful

To back-track for a moment, before I started looking at the iPod Mini, I was sidetracked by a non-iPod Flash memory based player - a Sandisk Sansa - on sale at a local store. Cheaper than a 1 GB iPod Shuffle, it has a display, as well as an FM Radio. (No iPod that I know of has an FM Radio - although FM is not really a factor for me, as I am unable to listen to commercial radio because of the commercials). The 1GB Sandisk Sansa had fairly good reviews online, so I got it. It isn't as sleek as the iPod Nano, but it is small and light and has a readable mono display. The controls are quite simple too figure out. Downloading songs didn't require any special software either. The problem is, it didn't take me long to fill up 1GB with songs. This was especially true since the Sansa supports subscription music or "Music To Go", and I started a free trial of one of the subscription services.

What's subscription music or "Music To Go"? Basically, for a monthly fee you can download as much music as your portable device can handle. Then, as long as you keep on paying the monthly fee you can listen to the music. The players use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to disable playing of the songs if you don't synchronize with the music service as a paid up subscriber. The songs also cannot be burned to CD and cannot be played on devices (including computers) which are not "Authorized" by the subscription service. So, of course I filled up the player with songs I liked but don't have on CD, and albums I'm considering buying as well as music from artists I haven't yet heard.
CNET has a whole article about it here.

Okay, so 1 GB wasn't enough, so I begun looking at higher capacity MP3 Players, and that led me to the 4 GB iPod Mini. I made the mistake of buying a refurbished one from eBay. If I'd shopped around more I would have found a refurbished one on for cheaper. Oh well..

Oh, and how is the iPod? I had to read the manual to learn how to use the controls, but once I got them they were intuitively easy. The sound seems better than the Sansa. Best of all I discovered that the accessories for the iPod Mini are deeply discounted since it has been discontinued, so I was able to get an FM transmitter (iTrip) for less than $10. Now I can listen to the iPod in the car or on my home audio system.

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