iPod, MP3 player... I'm confused!

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Thursday 16 December 2004 2.52pm
I wonder if anyone can help. My boyfriend wants an ipod for christmas. I don't really know anything about them, or even what questions to ask in the shop. What is the difference between an ipod and an MP3 Player? can you use an ipod with a PC, or is it only for use with a Mac? what are the important things to consider when buying either an ipod or MP3 player?
Hoping for some help.... thanks in advance!!

Thursday 16 December 2004 3.44pm
This sounds to me like the sort of situation where you could just let him know how genuinely confused you are (even though you're obviously trying to be a great girlfriend by trying to find out about it in secret), watch his look of fear as he realises that it's very likely that you will not get exactly the right sort of thing he wants, but will instead get something that to you (and to the rest of the world) is pretty much exactly the same but to him (and any other gadget freaks out there) is actually a zillion miles away from what he wants.

He should then be happy to get it himself, and/or tell you to get him something that is easy to get.

It's an unreasonable request, IMHO. It's like a teenager asking you to buy them something fashionable. With the best will in the world, you will get it wrong. Respect to you for trying, but beware of it all ending in tears.

It's be like me asking a work acquaintance to buy me cider. They'd mean well, and I'd have to look extremely pleased when I ended up with some Strongbow.

...if you press it, they will come.
Thursday 16 December 2004 3.58pm

In a nutshell - an iPod is an MP3 player, but is the fashionable one because of it's looks, and the large amount of storage it offers - which means it can store thousands of songs.

However, there are hundreds of MP3 players available. The majority of them only have enough storage for a few albums at a time. Some of them have built-in radios & voice recorders, and some (like mine) are rechargeable and have the ability to record from any audio source (as oppoosed to just transferring the MP3 from the PC).

You can use an iPod with either a PC or Mac. Apple support the iPod extremely well, and offer a large number of accessories for it. Howeverm it is pricey, and the best way to link it up to a PC is with a FireWire cable (that makes it fast) - so you may need to get a FireWire card to install in your PC. If you don't have that, I don't know how else you can link them up - I don't know enough about iPods.

There are other alternatives if you want a player with large storage (sometimes known as MP3 jukeboxes) - try looking at the Creative Zen - that is a worthy rival which is cheaper.

The one other thing I'm not sure of is whether the iPod only plays MP3s. My little MP3 player plays WMA files - another type of electronic music format, but because WMA compresses the data differently, each file is about half the size that the MP3 of the same song would be.

If all this is actually making you more confused, use the Private Message thingy to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them...
Thursday 16 December 2004 4.00pm
Am no technical expert but:

* an Ipod is an MP3 player - early versions used only to play i-Tunes formated songs, but now all the later ones play MP3s as well.

* you can use the later versions of the Ipod with a PC

Things to consider:

If he's asked for an Ipod, get him an Ipod - there are better music players out there (depending on your requirements) IMHO in terms of sound quality and functionality, but the Ipod is a solid piece of kit which most people will be very happy with.

Then, you're really down to size - mini-Ipod or full size ? Mini has 4Gb storage (about 750 songs), comes in several funky colours, and is about half the size of the full Ipod (which has 20Gb storage or about 4,500 songs).

Edited to say, like James, I'm a Creative Zen fan - I have two in fact (but I have an awful lot of music)

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 16 December 2004 4.02pm by Siduhe.
Thursday 16 December 2004 4.17pm
I don't even think I own 75 songs (that I'd want in one place at the same time) let alone 750 or 4500! (are there actually 4500 songs available?!)
Thursday 16 December 2004 5.08pm
I told you it was unbearably fraught with danger and nerdiness

(only - slightly - joking. some of my best friends have ipods. It's just that when they start talking about them, I try to slip into unconsciousness unnoticed)

...if you press it, they will come.
Thursday 16 December 2004 5.28pm
If he wants an iPod definitely get an iPod, they're fantastic. I've got a iPod mini too and its great. If your boyfriend is any good with a computer, PC or Mac, then he won't find it at all daunting.
The only question really is how much money you want to spend. That will determine how many songs will be stored on it. You can go all the way to having a 60gb iPod with a colour screen that you can store photos on too now, but that's I think 599 which is a lot to spend on anyone for Christmas...
If you're confused, go the the Apple shop on Regent Street, the staff are incredibly helpful and will explain it all to you.
Thursday 16 December 2004 5.29pm
There's a fairly comprehensive guide in yesterday's Financal Times MP3 players - the next generation

Annoyingly, all the recommended machines are priced in dollars - presumably because they assume all FT readers regularly hop across the pond to do their shopping at the currently favourable exchange rates.

Friday 17 December 2004 9.05am
I asked a mate about his iPod last night - he's over the moon with it - especially the shuffle mode and the playlists (which means you can listen to things you don't listen to very often, but playlists lets you choose what gene of music you'd like to listen to). He said the one downfall for him is that you can only use the iPod with one PC at a time - unless you download extra software...obviously this'll only come in useful if (like my mate) your bloke wants to use both his home and work PC to mange his music.
Friday 17 December 2004 11.05am
take him shopping with you, and get him to chose, and decide which one he wants, and then you pay for it.

that way if it's wrong, it's his fault.

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