Wednesday, September 15, 2004

my newest toy

Because a fool and his money are soon parted, I am now the happy owner of a hard-drive MP3 player. No, I didn't buy an iPod. I'm not an iPod guy. I actually resent the iPod owners I see on the subway. Just because everyone else has one doesn't mean I need one. I've tried to use iTunes to manage my MP3 collection but it always seems to screw things up. Classical music CDs especially don't import correctly and require lots of tag editing. So I looked for a player that would let me organize my music my way, specifically one that would show up as another hard drive on my PC and let me drag and drop files onto it. After flirting for a long time (including my two weeks in Asia) with the iAudio M3 (the MP3 player with no LCD screen, just a remote), I decided on the iRiver H140. It's not just a 40 GB drag & drop player. It has an FM tuner, line in and microphone recording, support for just about every audio file format out there, can be used for plain old file storage, and it was cheaper than the 40 GB iPod. And the sound! I didn't think MP3s could sound this good! Until now I'd only heard my music on my laptop or my Treo 600, but never on a device designed for audio. As I write this post I'm listening to Sir Charles Mackerras' recording of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks with the original all-wind orchestration, and I'm hearing notes I've never heard before. Earlier today I listened to some Dream Theater and some Allman Brothers, and in both cases I heard bass lines I never knew were there. It helps that I'm in a quiet room tapping away on my laptop, but even on the subway this evening coming home from work, I was able to hear songs with a clarity that I'd never before had on my commute. I will admit that the H140's navigation is nowhere near as cool as the iPod scroll wheel -- my player has a "joystick" that's really just a raised button on the front that toggles in four directions and clicks for various functions. There are short and long clicks for different features at different times. It takes some adjusting, but I'm getting the hang of it. For my next trick, I have to find the right cables to connect it to my stereo so I can use it as a jukebox for our infrequent parties. And then I can figure out how to use it in a car with our old CD player cassette adapter. The more I use this thing, I'm convinced I made the right decision. And I no longer resent those snobby iPod people, as I've got something cooler. So there.

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