Analysis: When Apple Waits, Competitors Strike | iLounge Article

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Analysis: When Apple Waits, Competitors Strike

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004
Articles Categories: Features

July 2, 2004
By Jeremy Horwitz

Though iLounge’s mission is to cover news of interest to the iPod community, we’d be remiss if we didn’t occasionally glimpse outside to see what Apple’s competitors have been doing. Starting a few months ago, we began to look at new offerings from Microsoft and Sony to see how they might fare against the iPod. Since then, it’s become increasingly apparent that Apple’s officially in every major electronics company’s crosshairs, and even the companies themselves are openly admitting it.

In the absence of news from Apple this past month regarding either a next-generation iPod or price cuts on existing models, competitors have had the mainstream media’s spotlight mostly to themselves. Creative, Dell, and Sony have recently attracted attention - some positive, some negative - with new offers aimed directly at current and prospective iPod buyers.

Since last we looked at competing products, Creative announced its latest device, the Zen Touch, which parrots the iPod’s white casing and touch-sensitive controls. Dell made a few headlines by offering to buy old iPods in exchange for its cheaper Digital Jukebox players. And Sony been on a rolling rampage of product releases in recent weeks, announcing or releasing five separate hard disk-based devices under different brand names and product lines. While none of these companies’ announcements may actually impact the iPod, each raises the same question: if Apple stands still, will its competitors tear it down?

Creative: You’ve Got the Touch (thanks, Stan Bush)

We’ll confess, we have a soft spot when it comes to Creative, makers of the Zen series of iPod-competing hard drive-based players. We really like that the company thinks about things like replacement batteries, longer battery life, integrated FM tuners, remote controls, and real-time speed adjustment of audio files. Sure, we didn’t like squinting at the Zen’s screens, how often they used to crash, the relative complexity of their controls, or their comparatively (not offensively) bulky bodies. But for techies, the Zens can be great players. And they’re cheap.

picA couple of weeks ago, Creative announced that it would update the Zen line with the Zen Touch, a device which clearly (but unimpressively) mimics three features from the iPod: casing, touch-sensitive controls, and general size. Zen Touch drops the prior generation Zen’s all-metal case for a two-tone white and gray plastic shell, and incorporates a single vertical touch strip to navigate through menus. Well, that and ten buttons (just in case you wanted dedicated buttons for “random” and “back”). And it’s almost the size of the iPod - it just looks bulkier because of the oddly shaped case.

Otherwise, the Zen Touch is like its Zen predecessors: same small blue and black screen, interface, and functionality. But it has an attractive price (20GB for $269.99) and boasts 24-hour battery life, which Creative typically actually matches in real-world performance.

We’d like to say that the Zen Touch is Creative’s best shot yet at taking market share, but we would be surprised if it presented a contest for anyone but Dell. Creative excels in value and battery life, but they’ve never won critical acclaim for style, ease of use, or reliability. Hard drive failures are surprisingly common, perhaps a result of the low prices Creative persistently offers for these products. Like its predecessors, the Zen Touch looks like a good alternative for those who are willing to deal with inconveniences, but it’s not a replacement for the iPod.

Dell: Dude, Where’s my Rebate?

Dell had an interesting idea: what if someone offered a deal where you could take your old iPod and trade it in for a discounted 15GB Dell Digital Jukebox? Nevermind that the interfaces are different, your legal downloads for one won’t work with the other, and oh, that one’s an iPod and the other’s a Dell Digital Jukebox (DJ), the device a reporter from Fortune Magazine once called Bizarro to the iPod’s Superman.
pic
If that sounds harsh, sorry: it’s reality. As such, Dell’s announcement was viewed by many as a desperate ploy to attract publicity for the DJ, which has suffered from slow sales despite a price tag and design expressly engineered to undercut the iPod.

Available in two sizes (15GB at $199, 20GB at $279), the DJ is a physically larger and less attractive device than the iPod but tries to emulate its simplicity. With a horizontally mounted scrolling wheel and five face buttons, the DJ also has an iPod-like remote control and a good monochrome screen. Besides price, twenty-hour battery life has been Dell’s main selling point for the product, but unlike so many of Dell’s other offerings (and even the iPod, when the company sold it at incredibly discounted prices), the DJ just hasn’t taken off.

Staunchly convinced that the DJ is a winning design, Dell was most likely unprepared for the response it received after announcing the trade-in program. Analysts laughed off the promotion as a cheap publicity stunt. One person amusingly dubbed Dell’s offer the equivalent of a Porsche for Volkswagen swap. Instead of coming across as a good deal, the offer may have only underscored the considerable differences between the elegant iPod and the cheaper, clumsier Dell product.

iLounge would be more concerned about the mechanics of Dell’s deal than the value it supposedly offers.  In order to get your discounted Digital Jukebox, you have to buy the device at full price, then send your iPod to Dell and wait for a $100 rebate check to arrive. Unfortunately, Dell’s rebate process has historically included plenty of opportunities for rebate submissions to be “lost” or otherwise invalidated for no apparent reason, and so we’re not so sure that Dell’s promised $100 would make it here on time, if at all. Having dealt with these problems ourselves in the past, we would never again take the risk - or trade in our iPods. But then, you knew that already.

Sony: The Shotgun Approach to Anti-iPod Marketing

They did it with digital cameras, now they’re trying it with music players. After sitting on the sidelines of the hard disk-based digital audio player market for three years, Sony is using a familiar approach to gain market share: release a collection of similar products and see which feature differences attract buyers. Since May of this year, Sony has announced not one, not two, but three different hard disk-based portables, each marketed by the company as an iPod beater.

pic
First was the VAIO Pocket, a $500 40GB device with styling and branding reminiscent of Sony’s computer line. Larger than the iPod and equally expensive, the VAIO Pocket’s chief advantage is a color screen, which enables the display of digital photos stored on the unit hard drive. Unfortunately, Sony only guarantees that you can transfer photos directly to the device from Sony digital cameras, or from a computer with the VAIO Pocket’s docking cradle. Similarly, the device only supports native playback of Sony ATRAC3 format music files, not MP3s. An odd control scheme called Grid Sense (G-Sense in Japan) uses a square collection of touch-sensitive dots instead of the iPod’s intuitive wheel controller.

pic

The second announcement was more intriguing: only two weeks later, Sony debuted the HMP-A1, a $570 device featuring a large color screen and the ability to play back both audio and video. Even better, the device - which was not released as either a VAIO product or a Walkman - actually supports MP3 music playback, plus MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 video playback, amongst other formats. Digital photos can also be displayed on the screen. The only hitches: with only 20GB of storage space and 4-6 hours of video playback time (8 hours of audio playback), the HMP-A1 is likely to win over experimental early adopters but underwhelm average consumers for the price. But if we were betting on one Sony technology to win at a lower price tag, this would probably be the one.


picThird but actually not last, Sony unexpectedly showed the NW-HD1, the company’s first hard disk-based product to bear the Walkman name. Though prior flash memory-based generations of the Network Walkman have proved unpopular, the newest 20GB version is launching for $470 in Japan, then in August for $400 in the United States, with a slightly-smaller-than-iPod profile (thanks to Toshiba’s 1.8” hard disk) and a black-on-green screen. Sony’s proprietary Jog Dial will be used to navigate through menus, and battery life is said to be upwards of 25 hours. Yet the problems with the NW-HD1 may sound familiar: it only supports the ATRAC3 audio format, and it’s very expensive considering that it doesn’t do anything the iPod can’t do (it actually does less).

Lest you think that Sony’s products only sell for $400 and up, the company announced plans in January to have its lower-end subsidiary Aiwa release two hard disk-based devices called the HZ-WS2000 and HZ-DS2000. The WS version was set to become a direct (albeit screenless) competitor to the iPod mini, using an impressive business card-sized footprint and newly developed 2GB drives, while the DS version was bulkier, shock resistant, and had a built-in screen. Sony’s only problem was that they couldn’t actually manufacture them: both devices were postponed until May because the hard drives were failing, and the company actually had to downgrade the devices to a different 1.5GB hard disk model as a result. There’s a little good news: these devices support the MP3 format rather than ATRAC3. But the bad news: they sell for around US$307 in Japan. Who would have guessed that the iPod mini could ever look like a bargain?

picWill any of Sony’s new hard disk-based products out-iPod the iPod? It’s hard to imagine. High prices are consistent across Sony’s line, and the company’s use of ATRAC3 in certain devices has dramatically limited their appeal. But there are other concerns, as well.

The company’s once legendary reputation for manufacturing quality has nosedived in recent years. (Try a Google search for Sony Recall.) Defects in products ranging from inexpensive PlayStations to its most expensive Qualia digital cameras have left Sony with black eyes, and the company is starting to develop a reputation for showing products it does not actually deliver on time or with the originally promised features. Sony has also developed a spotty history when it comes to measuring actual battery life, such that it’s now somewhat hard to believe any of the company’s bare claims without independent verification.

More troubling is that Sony has recently devolved to downright misleading marketing of the ATRAC3-based devices, telling people that their 40GB device can hold 26,000 songs by comparison to the 40GB iPod’s 10,000 because of “advanced compression technology.” But as experienced digital music listeners will attest, songs compressed with Sony’s low bitrate “26,000 song” ATRAC3 just sound poor compared to the 128kbps MP3 compression that safely stores 10,000 songs on the iPod. It goes without saying that the iPod could store 26,000 comparatively awful-sounding songs if it wanted to stoop to that level.

For now, we’re taking a “wait and see” attitude on these Sony devices. Given their prices and the questions they raise, they’re certainly not going to be at the top of our impulse buy lists, but if Sony can just convince a million people to buy one of their new players, maybe they’ll merit another look.

Parting Thoughts

Though this article may seem partisan, we’re certainly not closed-minded to the possibility that something could come along and really blow away the iPod. At the moment, however, we can’t help but be surprised that such major competitors have been embarrassing themselves with cheap knockoffs, weak promotions, and scatterbrained product designs.

Apple’s been more than lucky to date. It designed so well and acted so fast that the iPod was clearly ahead of the pack for two years. And we know that Apple has fantastic new things just waiting in its labs to be unveiled.

But as we’ve suggested before, even if the war over digital music players has already ended - which isn’t entirely certain - there are still important battles yet to be fought over other features, from photos to video and games. This past month hasn’t brought any serious challenges to the iPod, but who knows what this next month will hold? As always, we look forward to seeing what Apple has in store, and expect that exciting new announcements aren’t too far off.

Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.

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Comments

101

curse sony the only reason it can hold more songs is because! they downgrade the song quality!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ipod seeks excelence 10 thousand good sounding songs not 26 thousand songs that sound like total s***

Posted by marzw on July 9, 2004 at 4:35 PM (PDT)

102

Starboard, that was an excellent post. You are absolutely right in saying that the Ipod has a “mystique” to it. I’ve had three mp3 players, including my Ipod, and it is the one I like the most. Ever since I’ve heard about them, I’ve always wanted one. When I was at the Apple Store buying it, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. It was a great feeling, opening up the box and seeing my very own Ipod there. I didn’t have that with my other mp3 players.

Posted by Jeff C. on July 9, 2004 at 6:23 PM (PDT)

103

No matter what kind of copycat schemes the competition pulls, they can’t match the brilliant design and quality that Apple has shown!

Posted by iPodster on July 10, 2004 at 6:11 AM (PDT)

104

“No matter what kind of copycat schemes the competition pulls, they can’t match the brilliant design and quality that Apple has shown!”

TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!
TWO LEGS GOOD FOUR LEGS BETTER!

Posted by Bleating on July 10, 2004 at 6:49 AM (PDT)

105

nothing can replace e ipod. it’s like 20 yrs ago, nothing could replace the walkman. the status is there. now, they need to find another solution to the ever-hungry consumers. we need something more thn the ipod.

Posted by jm on July 10, 2004 at 7:59 AM (PDT)

106

Whenever someone one mentions that the iPod won’t play the most popular music format (WMA) I always get confused. I thought the iPod did play the most popular music format- mp3! Also Apple has a WMA converter, so if someone had those files, they could convert them. Apple also has built the ability to play WMA into the iPod and have stated that they will unlock it when they feel the market pressure to play WMA.

Posted by Ditboy on July 10, 2004 at 3:57 PM (PDT)

107

ipods are the best mp3 players out there in the harsh world of the mp3 player. in my personal view nothing and i mean nothing can out pase an ipod for design, storage space and useabilaty. i beleave apple have sean the market, at one stage and gone 4 -5 stages ahead of any other mp3 player.once again nothing can out pase an ipod.

Posted by sam matthews on July 11, 2004 at 11:09 AM (PDT)

108

The Apple Macintosh is a fine piece of technology.  As a photographer and graphic designer, I appreciate it. 


Out of the Box the Mac is designed to perform.  For instance, the OS is a quiet one.  Now, look at WIndows XP.  When spending hours working on photographs to prepare for large prints(some prints I have made, printed by WCI, are close to 5 feet tall), that are over three hundred megabytes each, one cannot help but use a simplified OS.  Look at XP’s Luna theme.  It distracts one from their color work.  Sure, you CAN change it, but still.  It looks like a 1st grader colored it. 

On the issue of reproduced color quality, it is a top, primary concern for Apple and they apply continuous, major R&D toward it. That is a major part of Apples market and they dominate in the professional printing, publication, and photography areas. On the other hand, Microsoft abandoned any serious effort to compete in that market after 1998 when the last version ICM 2.0 of their color management engine for Windows was released. They have applied minimal development to color reproduction quality in the last five years, using the same old ICM 2.0 engine.
Horse races are no more significant to digital image computing than they are in politics or who is the most popular celebrity. Nothing of importance is accomplished by who is ahead in a meaningless race that has minimal or significant affect in the real world of individual graphics computing.

Yeah, Macs have fallend.  Sure….

They control the photographic(professional, NOT the home “amateur Point and shoot crowd), print, and graphic industries.  So yeah, really bad….  Sure…

Posted by Thomas_S on July 11, 2004 at 5:22 PM (PDT)

109

One to watch out for….

http://www.idontipod.wanadoo.co.uk

Cheap site (free UK email and hosting from Wandoo) that’s not even started let alone finished…. Looks like they mean war..

Posted by MiName on July 11, 2004 at 11:50 PM (PDT)

110

@ Thomas_S

What your are saying is true (although the theme argument is rather silly, since the very point of Windows is that you can finetune & change the system as you wish), but I cannot really see the connection to the topic at hand.

Posted by Shrike on July 12, 2004 at 4:43 AM (PDT)

111

reading some of the above coments, i think it’s better to have add ons than built ins. somewhere along the line quality is going to have to be compromised over space. the only thing missing from the ipod is a tuner FM. transmitter? NO, they are illegal in the UK & probably most of europe? i got the itrip and it’s pretty cr*p with my car stereo, too many strong signals in the south of the UK actually overpower the ipod! sound quality with the ipod is awesome, mp3, AAC all good (i thought AAC was mpeg4 same as WMA?). Also itunes is great, so easy to manage your database & rename etc… plus i bought 3 songs so far! so my main point is add ons are fine, otherwise it’s a jack of all trades & master of none! even if other people go for the cheaper model, well the PC did not kill the MAC, i dont have a mac, but if you want serious multimedia, image, audio, video, you need a MAC, PC just too slow, even with AMD. never heard of 2.5 hour batter life, ive used mine continuos for 6+ and no probs, maybe you need to turn the backlight off?

Posted by mike uk on July 12, 2004 at 5:46 AM (PDT)

112

lol:
One more thing…‘What’s that in your pocket? An iPod?’
‘No, its an Aiwa HZ-WS2000.’ smile
let me add:
-how much did it cost?
$300.
-well, can it hold more than the mini?
no. it can’t even hold half.
-does it have a nice screen?
what screen?
-battery life?
well, aiwa said 24 hours, but it’s more like five.
-it must have some really cool software or something then, right?
-urrrmmm…. it works with this thing called sony connect. and when i buy a big mac, i get a free song.

*sighs* the competition is SO far behind.
:-D

Posted by chuck on July 12, 2004 at 4:30 PM (PDT)

113

“Oh, sorry for the double post, but I had to mention the fact that I did buy a 3rd gen iPod, only to have the hard-drive fail within 3 days. I returned it for a refund and bought the Dell instead. With the extra $200 I saved on it I bought a ton of songs from Wal-Mart, Napster and MusicMatch. smile

HA HA HA HA HA!!! I love it… Wal-Mart… what a ###…

Posted by O.G. Readmore on July 12, 2004 at 7:06 PM (PDT)

114

Does anybody know a site that will let me get a free iPod without having to need a credit card because I’m sort of scared of using my credit card. I’ve been a victim to credit card fraud 2 times… I really wouldn’t want to make that number rise anymore…

SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP!!!
email me if anything… please

Posted by Ivan on July 12, 2004 at 7:10 PM (PDT)

115

G’day

i am lookin to buy one of these small music players (for lack of a better name) and i have read this entire thread, board, thing. i only spend my money if i really think it is worth it and at the moment i am totaly confused…

i started wanting nothing but I-pod but after some of the comments here (battery life, faulty HHD etc.) i was having seconds thoughts. then i river came up now that looks good but a little pricey considering the lack of features and add - ons compared to I-pod but looked more reliable. then i found Dell DJ this thing looks pretty reliable and the price is pretty cheap i think (can someone tell me if Dell DJ, 20gb is $251 australian plz!) if it is, that is pretty bloody good compared to i-pod but again lacking the extras.

if anyone out there has a full on, unbiased, totaly honest opion of the best one out there i would really like to to know (and also the aussie price for Dell DJ) thnx

Posted by Evil Potato on July 13, 2004 at 1:03 AM (PDT)

116

Few things!
got my 15GB and love it,
switched to mini’ and w. few w. that some isue rising about it switched back to 15GB, still love it!
is it over priced? maybe little,
about sony!
had they mz mini disk players (3 different once), all bad, broke at their once convenience w. out any working and $ for repairs, might buy new one, at least ipod had only battery life isue.
Slowly getting read all of my sony products as seing their quallaty going down…
over all,
and again, it is just my opinion.
over all I’m pretty pleased w. iPod

Posted by peter.r. on July 13, 2004 at 4:14 AM (PDT)

117

“Jeremy Horowitz is missing perhaps the best alternative and competitor to the iPod. It beats it in every feature, except that you can’t play iTunes files.”

Therein lies the problem.  People love the iTMS!

Posted by The Raven in USA on July 13, 2004 at 5:54 AM (PDT)

118

Has anybody really thought about why the iPod is the one to beat? Obviously, all the added xtras on the competitors’ players are not enough to dissude most people from opting for the iPod.  Why do you think that is?  Well, its obviously not because   of price! 

The reason is in its name.  The word “iPod” has become synonymous with “digital audio player”.  It has been drilled into the heads of the consuming masses.  It will be hard, if not impossible, to unseat.

You will say, “but I’ve got an iRiver that has this and that.”  And I will say, “yeah, but it’s not an iPod.”  Then I will go to the iTMS and download some music!

Posted by The Raven in USA on July 13, 2004 at 6:11 AM (PDT)

119

give it up no one can surpass teh technological fortitude of the ipod

Posted by ronnie on July 13, 2004 at 3:16 PM (PDT)

120

I still son’t know. The Creative Zen Touch sounds like a pretty good buy and 24 hours compared to 8 hours….I’m still ‘kinda thinking it over. Help somebody. :-(

Posted by soccerkid656 on July 14, 2004 at 5:42 AM (PDT)

121

Go ipod.. Go!

Posted by Jaeboy on July 14, 2004 at 7:53 AM (PDT)

122

Um…..sorry but i got my ipod to play music…..i dont care bout all that other crap.  I think ipod looks better and performs better than all that other craps

Posted by Nick on July 14, 2004 at 8:24 AM (PDT)

123

The lack of iRiver is a serious oversight . I’ve just got myself a H340. Colour screen, displays photos, acts as a USB host (!) mic, FM radio and about a zillion other features. True, it doesn’t look as cool as the iPod, nor is it as elegant. But you get so much more for your money that you’d have to be a myopically slavish pod devotee (and many are) not to consider it.

BTW, I don’t think they’re available in the US yet.

Posted by rhymer on July 15, 2004 at 1:45 PM (PDT)

124

Apple has been at the top of the mp3 player market for almost three years. As much as i like the iPod, someday another product is going to wipe it off the face of the earth.

Posted by Jake on July 15, 2004 at 5:09 PM (PDT)

125

It is so funny, yet lame, when people try to use the word ‘liberal’ as an insult. I wear it as a badge of honor. Don’t they know Jesus was the biggest one ever? Yea, he was given the death penalty by conservatives of his time. Some things never change.

Posted by the veg dude in San Francisco on July 16, 2004 at 7:01 AM (PDT)

126

The iPod unlike all the other players was the FIRST to have touch controls, ease of use and a large storage capasity. Unlike a lot of companies Apple does one thing different. They for some reason are always the frist ones to do everything first. You see they are only worried about setting the standard, and then from there once everybody else see the attempts and sometime good products from other companies, they get to sit back and laugh.

Posted by M Bargo in Chicago, IL on July 16, 2004 at 8:21 AM (PDT)

127

Presumably much in the way they laughed when their brilliant and stylish but overpriced computers lost virtually all their market share to “inferior” competitors. They must still be killing themselves over that one.

Posted by rhymer on July 16, 2004 at 3:05 PM (PDT)

128

see you next week

Posted by Vision on July 16, 2004 at 7:05 PM (PDT)

129

Apple have done well with the iPod, but need to release something soon, to make sure they carry on that way.

However, there isn’t any need for more space and larger hard disks, who has 10000 songs anyway? The size of the iPod is pretty perfect, it certainly doesn’t need to be muich smaller, and as so many people have iPods which are small and hold a lot of songs, is there any point in trading it for something else.

I think apple have done plenty with the iPod, and should now turn their attention to a new product, possibly an iCam digital camera or something else along those lines, with the same styling as the iPod it would certainly do well, esbecially if it had a hard disk rather than a little card, that way so many photos would be able to be stored at an extremely high quality.

Posted by Richard Smith on July 17, 2004 at 3:23 AM (PDT)

130

The ipod is a good invention, in fact the whole iPod-iTunes experience is what sets it apart from the rest of the pack. It is indeed simple to use and the reason why it is the market leader is because it appeals to a large section of the community out there who want only to listen to music on a music player and not have it do a whole lot of other things , for which ther are dedicated devices to do the job. I hope that the company concerned “apple”, keep up their innovative spirit which has enabled me to enjoy music like never before.

Posted by bm on July 17, 2004 at 11:54 AM (PDT)

131

What some of you may have not noticed, is that unlike other companies apple ALWAYS sets the standard. They don’t just wait to see what other companies make, then try to make something better like Dell and Zodiac. No, they for some reason always have to set the standard for other companies to try to make better off of it. Have you also noticed how there is always talk about that ipod killer? The ipod can not be killed, it can only be in competition. For those retards who would think of trading in their ipod for a Dell DJ, let me put it this way, that trade is like trading in a porsche for a volkswagon. Plus, when i had a problem with my ipod earbuds, i filled out the form on apple support, and they sent me a pair of in earbuds in two days flat. I would like to see Dell put up that kind of relyment.

Posted by M Bargo in Chicago, IL on July 18, 2004 at 6:17 AM (PDT)

132

I think that windows is going with their same plan, wait to see what apple does, then make something slightly better and diferent. Then put the microsoft name on it. Which is exactly why apple is coming out with its new ipod in september, and microsoft is coming out with its “ipod killer”,lol. So microsoft will wait and see to copy and change.

Posted by M Bargo in Chicago, IL on July 18, 2004 at 6:52 AM (PDT)

133

what about the rio karma?
that seems to have run a small community of its own - its only down side seems to be a bad batch of hard drives and the fact that its near impossible to find! Any thoughts?

Posted by vanjab on July 19, 2004 at 5:54 AM (PDT)

134

THe 4th gen is here and yes, it does have a clickwheel and longer batt life as well as lower prices. I personally have a gen2 20 GB that I got on eBay for $200 and I love it. It just works and I can operate the basic functions all with one thumb in the dark while driving. Also, the battery life is great and charges VERY fast.

Posted by Dale Cosby on July 19, 2004 at 10:29 AM (PDT)

135

The stuff I’ve dl’d from
allofmp3.com, 40% so far has
digital extraction errors (pops and clicks)
Some are because they simply
rip’d a copy protected CD, and placed the result on the site…

I emailed them a list of all the errors,
and they wanted me to give Minute/sec
of where the pops are.  I told them to just
listen to a few them.  Some are just really
really bad.

I’m not going to take the hours to do their work for them.

Posted by Jeff on July 20, 2004 at 3:32 PM (PDT)

136

Both the iPod and the Nomad have their good sides and their bad sides. I can buy a 60GB Nomad for less than half the price of a 20GB iPod. Not only that but the Nomad has longer battery life and when the battery does eventually reach the end of its lifespan you just buy a new battery.

Over all, the nomad is better value as its battery is replaceable, its storage space is alot more than that of the iPod (if it is a Zen Xtra), has longer battery life, and supports WMA which is reasonably widley used (more than some of the formats the ipod supports).

Note: Just because i mention the support of WMA and the fact that I do use it does not mean that I like Microsoft. At this stage most things can not play AAC and WMA is still a better format than MP3 as it can achive higer quality with smaller file sizes. Evidently microsoft did not make WMA as it shows none of the charastics of other microsoft software (bugginess, slow, unstable, considerably worse than anything else available).

My probliem with the iPod is much the same as my probliem with all other apple hardware: it is way too expensive. Why pay so much for the iPod when you can get somthing better for less money?

Posted by someone on July 21, 2004 at 9:19 PM (PDT)

137

“What some of you may have not noticed, is that unlike other companies apple ALWAYS sets the standard….”

I did not have noticed. Perhaps because other players had 12h+ batter life, editable playlists, etc long BEFORE the Ipod had it. Would perhaps be a good idea to remove the blinkers you seem to be wearing….

Apples Ipod is becoming Microsofts windows of the HD-mp3 Players. Big marketshare, good marketing, big (sometimes rabid) fanbase, better alternatives.

Posted by Shrike on July 22, 2004 at 10:18 AM (PDT)

138

Apple is catching up with Dell. My friend’s Dell DJ gets 22 hours on a charge - so now the new 4G iPods get 12 hours, instead of 6, which is much better!

Posted by followers on July 22, 2004 at 6:55 PM (PDT)

139

I have now known 4 VAIO notebook computers which had different catastrophic failures (hard drive, motherboard, memory, all sorts of stuff) within 2 years of purchase and without any sort of abuse. I have become very skeptical of their entire line.

And you forgot to mention the tremendous weakness of both the Creative and Dell units—the MusicMatch sync interface blows, and when you compare it to iTunes it’s really downright wretched.

Posted by Cole on July 27, 2004 at 12:44 PM (PDT)

140

Vaio Pocket only offers 20GB, not 40GB as the article above suggests.
Source: http://www.vaio.sony.co.jp/Products/VGF-AP1/feat3.html

Posted by Bribb6 in Hong Kong on August 4, 2004 at 7:15 PM (PDT)

141

the problem with sony electronics is that they are now too big. they don’t specialize in anything anymore. long ago, they were seen as leaders in televisions, home and portable audio, but with all the changes in the world, sony has tried to expand into too many different areas(digi cams, computers, videogames, cellphones, etc..) and aren’t known to be exactly the best company to buy from in any of their fields.

i used to love sony, but now… their products are inferior to most of their competition considering the prices they charge.

Posted by gobugi in Toronto, ON on August 8, 2004 at 4:38 PM (PDT)

142

iRiver easily takes first position.

Posted by iRiver eats the pants off iPod on August 9, 2004 at 2:46 AM (PDT)

143

hutchy: iRiver has been around way longer than the iPod. If someone has copied something, its not iRiver…

Posted by Tessio on August 9, 2004 at 4:11 AM (PDT)

144

The company Iriver was formed before apple created the ipod

Posted by rick james on August 9, 2004 at 5:59 AM (PDT)

145

iRiver is a company name, it was in business prior to the release of the iPod.  They didn’t sponge anything…  check your facts.

Posted by wrong20 on August 9, 2004 at 9:01 AM (PDT)

146

“iPod > everything out there.

There is no competition. It is simply the best player out there. Granted, it’s a best pricey, but well worth it. Probably the best purchase decision of my life. Worth every penny for sure.”


According to PC Magazine The iRiver H140 Is The Best… Here’s Proof

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1623828,00.asp

“While the iPod still delivers the most intuitive, elegant user interface, the best all-around player in the 20GB-plus class is the iRiver H140.”

IGN Said The Same…. So I Guess You’re Wrong But That’s Your Opinion. You Need To Play With An iRiver Product Before You Say Something Like That. That’s My Opinion

Posted by h0p3l355is4 on August 9, 2004 at 9:24 PM (PDT)

147

“I mean the iRiver…a lot of hd based players these days are sticking a small ‘i’ before the name to sponge off the iPod’s reputation.”

First of all iRiver came out before iPod did. iRiver was well known way way way in the beginning for their iMPs which existed before an iPod.. so i dont know what you’re talking about. Besides the “i” stands for company stuff…..

Posted by h0p3l355is4 on August 9, 2004 at 9:27 PM (PDT)

148

So who copied who? No one did. It’s just some company stuff…. before you say anything like that do some research… hahaha!

Posted by h0p3l355is4 on August 9, 2004 at 9:30 PM (PDT)

149

iRiver is the name if the company they came together before the iPod came out… Atleast know what your saying =/ They came together as a company 2 years before the iPod evern came out.

Posted by Elby on August 9, 2004 at 9:37 PM (PDT)

150

things that the iriver H300 series can do that ipod cant.(without buying add-ons for it):-
record-irvers H300 series can record from line in,in-built mic and radio.

Listen to radio

Play ogg,wma

act as removable drive (plug and play no software required

USB host

Line out

display pictures

look as good

Posted by medas on August 9, 2004 at 10:59 PM (PDT)

151

you people are nerds

Posted by Tim on August 10, 2004 at 12:04 AM (PDT)

152

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1623026,00.asp

With superlative sound and a multitude of special features, the 40GB iRiver H140 is the new digital audio player to beat. It goes far beyond the typical player, offering voice and audio recording as well as FM radio.

The H140 has a very articulate sound, with strong bass, good highs, and more EQ options than we’ve seen on any other player.

Recording quality is superb. The built-in mic is the best we’ve heard in a portable unit, although it picks up the hard drive’s whine when it spins up. The included lapel mic eliminates the whine and preserves quality. FM reception of both local and distant stations is excellent, as was its 10 hours of battery life.

Editor’s Choice:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1623894,00.asp

Posted by iRiver - Editor's Choice on August 10, 2004 at 6:01 AM (PDT)

153

if ipod did ogg, i’d be on the way to the store right now.

Posted by chris on August 10, 2004 at 1:18 PM (PDT)

154

I do not know why some people think the ipod is going to die out any time soon. I wanted to purchase the new 4 gen 20 gig. ipod, just to find out it was sold out in all the local stores. Not wanting to wait for the 20 gigs to be restocked I went with the 40 gig. The 20 gig ipod is now 299$ and the 40 gig is now 399$. So if ipod is on the verge of collapse why were the ipods the only hard drive music players that were sold out. I did ask the stores abot the other hard drive players and they were still on the shelf. While the stores were allowing people to reserve the 20 gig ipod for there next restock.

Posted by Josh on August 15, 2004 at 7:29 AM (PDT)

155

Heh, i remember the time i went to buy an iriver h120 few months ago. Frys was completely out except one. I asked the clerk and he said that very one that i was holding was the last one in the store. What do you have to say for that. Besides the 4th gen is new so of course there will be reservations for it.

Posted by h0p3l355is4 on August 19, 2004 at 5:37 PM (PDT)

156

sorry..until 2ng gen iPod OWNED!
now, it’s owned by others…zen has more sound quality, more options, and value! simple… yes, it’s reliable! don’t trust what this site says… it is as reliable as the ipod (apple used cheap low publicity stunts like that ever-lassting reliability)! in fact, apple does not have user replaceable battery, creative does! simple…


new iPods loose to their competitors…

ps: I own a ipod

Posted by 5th Raider on August 29, 2004 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

157

hutchy, iRiver is a company that has been out years before the iPod was ever created. So saying that the iRiver is copying the iPod just shows your ignorance…

Posted by supsup on October 2, 2004 at 10:18 AM (PDT)

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