How About Not Buying An iPod?

Okay, we’ll say it, and understand that we’re writing this post on an old iBook: the iPod line is starting to look tired. Sure, that Touch is elegant in the same way as the iPhone—but its capacity is similar to the Nano, and what if don’t want to carry around a Kubrick-style slab of minimalism? There are now some really nice alternatives out there if you’re willing to walk away from the perks of being a member of the Apple camp.

For example, the revamped SanDisk Sansa View has double the memory and a slightly bigger screen than the new iPod Nano, plus an FM tuner, microphone, and expansion slot, and it costs the same amount. Is it as nice looking? Meh, it’s getting hard to tell at this point, if you value functionality over form. Even the Zune—with a capacity and price equal to the iPod—is starting to look decent, with its well-designed interface, strong styling, and broader format support.

The one thing you’ll miss out on is the ease-of-use of being locked into the iTunes/iPod symbiotic relationship. Depending on how comfortable you are with figuring out a new syncing set-up, this may or may not be an issue for you.

The article brings up another potential drawback, depending on how you look at it: you won’t find anywhere near the same aftermarket support when it comes to accessories and cases. But then again, if the product is made properly, it doesn’t really need a case, whereas digital audio players that are designed to wear when working out usually come with straps or attachments.

(Disclaimer: we rely on a screenless Shuffle, which has its own obvious drawbacks, and our Nokia phone, which would be perfect if not for the battery drain.)

“Don’t want an iPod? Lots of choices available” [Reuters]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. the_oaktree says:

    Never bought into the whole Ipod frenzy, still using my creative zen from 5 years ago still the original battery and still getting 8-10 hours of playtime. plus the sound is unbelievable.

  2. B says:

    I’ll just stick with my last-gen iPod, it seems to work fine. But if you need an alternative, Target will sell you a box of rocks.

  3. TheBigLewinski says:

    I ordered a 30GB ZUNE from Woot last week, the unit was a refurb selling for $99. The beauty of the ZUNE is that the DRM is less restrictive than the “fruit machines” (IPOD.) IMO

  4. Bloberry says:

    Each member of our family owns a Sandisk. We’re all very happy with them. I feel absolutely no need for an Ipod.

  5. v12spd says:

    I recommend []
    I’ve had the av420, av500, and now the 605 160gb player. All of which now offer more features for the same price as a comparative iPod. Hell my 160 gb Archos 605 has a touchscreen and wifi! They have everything from Nano competitors to iPod touch alternatives. Give it a look see…

  6. rdm24 says:

    There’s always something to be said for not buying one of these gizmos at all. Save a few hundred dollars!

  7. foghat81 says:

    20GB Dell DJ works just fine for me. Price was right when I scored it a few years back. Smaller than a deck of cards…works just great for my purposes!

  8. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    I have a Creative Zen Nano, and one of my favorite things about it is that it runs on a AAA battery — I have several rechargeables and I just pop a new one in. It’s nice and small and even came with an armband. Also, putting music onto it is a simple drag-and-drop operation. I’ve been so happy with my Zen Nano that I just got my boyfriend a Creative MuVo for his bday — it also runs on a AAA battery.

    (Not a shill for Creative, btw)

  9. bigdirty says:

    I just picked up a Zune for $100 from Woot, and I’m more than happy with it. But it also needs to be said, I will never, ever bring an apple product into my home (unless it’s an apple product of the edible variety). I’ve had my share of other MP3 products, Sandisk Sansas were nice but short on battery life, RCA Lyras just stunk, and have been crash prone.

  10. enm4r says:

    I’ll just stick with my last gen iPod as well. A few years ago I actually was going to go from a 3rd gen iPod to a Zen, but after my second Zen’s headphone jack went south in 2 months, I just upgraded the iPod and am on the same 20gb 4th gen.

    There are definitely alternatives out there, but very few actually have the menu ease and transfer compatability that is ideal, especially if you like to stay away from windows media player.

  11. zentec says:


    I don’t want to be on the Apple bandwagon, but I can’t find a case for my Zen player.

    Well there you go; either you get the ubiquity of iPods, or you blaze your own trail and get something different. As my grandfather said, it’s okay to be a pioneer, just don’t complain when you come back to the fort stuck full of arrows.

  12. zentec says:


    Ok, I’ll bite; why won’t you bring an Apple product into your home? It can’t be because you don’t want to spend money, you’ve had by my count at least three MP3 players.

  13. Mary says:

    I’m a big fan of the entire line of Creative products. I’ve always felt that the entire iPod line looks like it’s going to snap if you sneeze on it wrong. I like my electronics built to last, thanks.

  14. jaredgood1 says:

    Still deciding between Creative or Archos…

  15. monkey-knife-fight says:

    I’ve had refurbed 20GB iRiver (, $99) for the better part of this year and I still love it. I use the heck out of it, too.

  16. bnosach says:

    How about not buying an iPod and instead getting one of those less expensive Sandisk media players on which you can just drag-and-drop music and most of them also have FM tuners.

  17. DeeJayQueue says:

    I wouldn’t mind finding a cheap, small mp3 player with wireless controlability. Screen size is non-important. It doesn’t even have to have a screen.

  18. Fuck Lion says:

    @meiran: I have an iPod from fall 2003 that’s still ticking.

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    I definitely recommend looking into if you have a supported player. Open source firmware for various players – makes it so much better!

  20. clementine says:

    Last week, I went to Radio Shack to buy a FM radio to use while I was out walking. The clerk has trouble understanding why I didn’t want an Ipod or Ipodlike device. I don’t own a computer (I log on at the library) and I was primarily interested in getting a radio so I could listen to NPR on the weekends while I was out getting exercise. She was astounded to know that Radio Shack actually sold a walkman like device. I had to hunt around the store to find it while she followed me with questions about why I didn’t own a computer though. I just assume that she was a new clerk and didn’t know the store’s merchandise yet but it was odd that she didn’t know that the local public radio station has great programs to listen to (Click Clack, This American Life, Fresh Air, BBC news etc.).

  21. morganlh85 says:

    I’m a gadget freak, but I’ve always been the type to NOT like something if EVERYONE else has it. I have a Zune 1 and I love it. It has a lot of features that the iPod was missing and I like the design of it a lot better. Before that I had an iRiver H10 which I also like the design of better, although the interface did need a lot of work.

  22. Goatweed says:

    I’ve had my 30 gig Zen Vision:M for a little over a year and I love it. The only bad thing (which I knew going into it) was that the front of the unit – including the screen – is very prone to scracthing, so I bought a screen protector for $14. I got a case directly from Creative for around $30 (black leather, still looks great). I use it every day and aside from the very rare fast forwarding issue (causes the track to begin at the start, and is usually cause by poor mp3 encoding) I’ve had no problems or issues with it.

    The best part? No need for itunes or any other proprietary software to load it – you can use Windows Explorer and you’re all set.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    gasp. Blasphamy!

    I’m just imagining the “fun” of a drag-n-drop interface with anyone that has over 200 songs. Or playlists. Or incomplete/mislabeled songs. Or DJ compilations. (shudder)

  24. I have a cheap 4GB Insignia (Best Buy house brand, I think) which I use at the gym – it syncs really easily with Windows Medial Player and I actually like making myself new play-lists and changing stuff around all the time, so the small size doesn’t bother me.

    I just don’t feel that I need a larger-capacity iPod. I find it easier to plug my laptop and my big external drive into my surround sound system and let it play. By my rudimentary calculations, I could have a month-long house party and never have to touch it

  25. kellyhelene says:

    I’ll join the praises for the quality of the Creative players. I’ve had my Zen Micro for years and love it.

  26. Padriac says:

    @morganlh85: So you’re no better than somebody buying an iPod just because everybody else has it.

    Buy the product that serves your needs, but don’t be a bullet-pointer. A feature is not a feature if you don’t use it: it’s an annoyance. If you like to have your music managed for you and don’t really care for FM radio, then an iPod is a pretty solid choice. But the Zune 80 looks decent too if you use Windows (otherwise: MS says screw you).

    @clementine: Those shows are all available as podcasts.

  27. UpsetPanda says:

    Well that just seems like a poor reason not to own something. You don’t like its design, its features or the company’s policies, that is fine, but to dislike it simply because it happens to be popular with a bunch of people, that’s just a poor reason.

    I have an iPod, the newest generation (I only bought it a few years ago, so I was kind of behind the trend) and I have a sounddock to go with it. To me, the biggest benefit of the ipod is the video capability. I have yet to find something I enjoy more for its video capability. I can use a nano when I go running, but to watch something on a trip the iPod is the only thing I’ll reach for. I don’t have to carry any DVDs or a laptop if I don’t want to, and it isn’t bulky. One of the worst flight experiences was when the gentleman in the seat in front of me reclined his seat while I was watching something on my laptop and pushed the screen down. I’m not a big person (petite and normal sized actually) but that movement pushed my tray further towards me, sort of pinning me down.

    What to do now? I cursed him silently, waited for a flight attendant to walk by and either notice my predicament or for me to snag the person and ask if they can do anything about it, and in the meanwhile I took out my iPod and resumed my video watching, since I had the same episode on my iPod.

  28. clementine says:

    @padraic – I do not own a computer. I log on at the library. Podcasts aren’t an option that I am interested in.

  29. olegna says:

    Flash sticks with audio payback abilities have been my player of choice for a while because of the battery thing (a spare AAA lasts about 15 hours, vs a lithium battery running out of juice at inopportune times). But I finally broke down and ordered a Nano, reluctantly resigning myself to using the crappy “audio player operating system” iTunes in exchange for not feeling guilty about eating through AAA batteries all the time. Eight gigs, small and stylish. I figured what harm is there in buying one of Apple’s audio players? But yeah, iPod. . . I don’t need my entire music catalogue if I have to carry around such a large and expensive thing (even a $199 player is kinda pricey for my cheap ass, but I went for it anyway). Eight gigs is more than enough. One gig is enough, actually. A good Flash key that plays music (SanDisc makes one) loads a lot faster (drag, drop & play) than starting up iTunes, scanning your music directory, loading the player, etc.

    My friends have accused me of heresy since I really don’t like Apple (for myriad very specific and well-tested reasons). But I’ve decided that the Nano seems like a decent product, and I think I can nuke the gadget and make it drag and drop, which would make it even more appealing to me (freeingmyself from that horrible iTunes monster.)

  30. mrosedal says:

    I bought an Ipod a long time ago and at the time it was one of the best things on the market. I used it as an external hd and many other things. Last Christmas my nephew wanted an Ipod and when I told him this other device could listen and record FM radio was cheaper and better looking he didn’t blink and said that is what he wanted.

    Personally ever since they tried to brand the Ipod as a video device I knew that they were done innovating. Especially when they refused to include a large enough screen to make it worth your while. Now the new touch could be cool, but there is still no FM radio ogg/Linux support or expansion slots. Things that competitors have been including for years.

    This is my personal choice of “best in class for movies” It includes tv out, sd expansion, FM tuner, ogg & flac support. All at a very resonable price. [] This should be the Ipod killer. of course if you want something smaller there are plenty of great alternatives as well.

  31. Mike_ says:

    Yeah, I’ve tried store brand cola. I still prefer Pepsi. Thanks.

  32. Techguy1138 says:

    Laugh all you want at me but I got a walkman mp3 player. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one.

    The sports model was the only one I found that was water resistant. It also had a build in pedometer and running functions, that I barely used.

    It was $60 for a 1 gb model but, it was nicer than the weird condom things I had to place on my ipod to keep sweat out of it.

    iTunes is much nicer than most other mp3 software but, I found that I could live quite well without it.

  33. BII says:

    I recently upgraded to an ipod touch, it is simply the most amazing PMP (portable media player) I’ve ever played with. Of course if you absoltely need to carry the entire series of “Arrested Development” AND an additional 60GB (roughly 15K songs), then the touch is not for you. However, I spent some time learning itunes software (why anyone wants to drag and drop a bunch of music and manually maintain their music collection is beyond me) and I rotate my music in and out via smart playlists.

    Of course a $400 media player/web device is an extravagance that not everyone can afford, but then that’s why there’s Sansas, etc.

  34. mxmora says:

    @olegna: @olegna:

    Why did you get a 8 gig nano? Why not the 4gig version if 1 gig was enough? Or even the shuffe? A 1gig shuffle is $79.00.

  35. WhatThe... says:

    I still use my old Rio Carbon… just upgraded the firmware to the developers edition. Added lots of new features. And if I need to watch video on the go – I just grab my PSP.

  36. Starfury says:

    My MP3 player is an old Creative Rio that uses 2xAA batteries and it plays MP3 burned to a CD. 700mb is plenty of music for me and it will also play standard CDs. Battery life is 10+ hours.

    My wife bought a SanDisk player off of Amazon for $20, it’s a 1gb device and works great. Drag/Drop to put music on, standard headphone jack. She wears it to the gym and hasn’t had a problem with it.

  37. Geekybiker says:

    ipods have been overpriced and underfeatured for years. They do their limited set of features very very well, but I just can’t get over some of the omissions. Especially the lack of format support. I have most of my collection ripped in the superior OGG format, and really dont want to have to rerip it to inferior mp3 or AAC (aac is fine, just all the work…..)

  38. bnet41 says:

    I am a big Apple fan, but when it came time for need a player for a oversea’s trip to China I chose the Zune. I picked it because it had a bigger screen.

    Well, it served it’s purpose, kind of. The battery life was horrible, but it got me there. After I returned I discovered I actually like listening to music at work, something I had never done before.

    The Zune just wasn’t cutting it. So I went out and got a Nano. I have been a iTunes user since it first came out, and I love the program. The main reason I got the Nano was so I could start using the iTunes store again.

    The Zune marketplace or whatever they call it just doesn’t compare. I can understand why people like the other players though, but to me the others feel so much cheaper than the iPod.

  39. jtlight says:

    I’ve disliked iPods, and especially iTunes, since they have been around. I have gone with Creative products, which in my opinion have better screens, sound, and work much better with what I want to do (which is never use iTunes). People buy iPods because they don’t know better, or because of how they look, not for ease of use or even necessarily quality. There are tons of great mp3 players out there that are way better than the iPod.

  40. junkmail says:

    As my grandfather said, it’s okay to be a pioneer, just don’t complain when you come back to the fort stuck full of arrows.

    diggin’ the quote man… I’m stealin’ it.

  41. Steel_Pelican says:

    I’m just sick of the logic that says “the iPod/iPhone/whatever does not meet my individual needs/tastes/pretensions! Therefore, everyone who bought one is an imbecile! GO ME!”

  42. MYarms says:

    I own the iPod photo, you know the one that they made for like a month before coming out with the video one. It still works perfectly (knock on wood) and I still use it every single day. I don’t care if Apple comes out with a holographic mp3 player, I’m not into the whole disposable electronics thing. I like using my stuff until it becomes completely unfixable and have no need to always buy the latest greatest whatever.

  43. Kifune says:

    Eh, I like my iPod. I am on my second one (the first was a hand me down to begin with), bought cheap refurbished through Apple’s site. I know I *could* figure out how to use another player and interface, but iTunes works great for me. I don’t download a lot of music, simply listen to what I’ve ripped from my CD collection. I also like podcasts I get for free on iTunes (This American Life being key). It does the job I want it to do well, so I see no need to change right now.

  44. backbroken says:

    Here’s a thought…How about you don’t listen to music during that 7% of your waking day when you aren’t within listening distance of your home stereo, car stereo, or computer?

    Crazy, I know.

  45. SwatLax says:

    @clementine: But with an mp3 player, you can listen to those NPR shows when you want. My iPod wouldn’t be worth more than $10 to me without podcasts.

    A bus drive by while out jogging? Just go back a few seconds to make sure you hear the joke on ‘Wait, Wait.’

  46. Obtusegoose says:

    I’ve got a 3G iPod (which I use on trips) and a Shuffle (for daily use). I’d love to have an iPod Touch. But the small amount of storage and short battery life are a major deterrent. In the mean time, I use my Samsung U740 cell phone to store hours of video on a 2 GB card. It has built in stereo speakers and a portrait display. Pretty sweet :o)

  47. msg007 says:

    Good point but I have a 3 hour commute on the CTA.

    I listen to music and read.

  48. techknight says:

    If you do decide to get an iPod, you can avoid being shackled to the iTunes by stripping the DRM from your songs with QTFairUse6: []

  49. clementine says:

    @swatlax There is only so much that I am willing to do on a public access computer at the library. Podcasts just don’t make the cut with me.

  50. I love my iPod, but maybe it’s because I haven’t tried anything else. Its simplicity amazes me.

    And when I took my 30 GB video iPod on my Route 66 trip, I marvelled at the fact that I had my entire music collection with me, and could listen to anything I wanted – that I owned – anytime. The FM trasmitter/charger I bought works wonders. The whole combo (plus iTunes) is just a dream.

    Maybe someday I’ll try something different. Until then, make mine iPod.

  51. MDT says:

    Have you actually held the new Nano? It blew my mind. A beautiful artful device. I’ve personally downgraded my portable library from an old 4 button 15gig iPod to an iPhone. Love it six ways to Sunday. The iPod implementation on the phone isn’t perfect – I miss the external controls – but in the context of the phone is it phenomenal. If your ead the linked article it will become clear that they guy they’re interviewing is a complete tool. “I value obscurity.” Well, I value quality and ease of use. Obscurity doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t play music any better. It would be one thing if the guy wanted something useful that the iPod doesn’t have. Some of you nerds out there need this or that format that you simply MUST have. I’m pulling for you, really. But this BONE simply wants something obscure for its own sake. That is the height of lame.

  52. MDT says:

    And anyone whining about DRM in a world with EMUSIC is being ridiculous. $19 for 90 tracks a month. Amazing selection. Awesome product. No one says you have to buy anything from iTunes.

  53. mavrc says:

    I love this line:

    “I like it a lot, but I still can’t find a case for it.”

    It would appear that Marybeth Miller has never googled “zen vision m case.”

    I’m a huge Apple fanboy who, after their latest bout of anti-consumer BS (locking out Linux users and iPhone modders) has been looking at non-Apple MP3 players, and the most promising thing I’ve seen yet are Chinese imports like Meizu and Teclast. They’re doing some really amazing stuff.

  54. BrooklynMike says:

    Some people just like to buck the system, and go against the grain solely for the sake of going against the grain. In their attempt they find something they may like, or THINK they like because it’s not what they are trying to avoid. Personally all I own are macs, and I had an iRiver Clix which was a great little player, but there’s no software support for macs.

    In addition to that it was a pain in the ass when it came time to making playlists using WMP 11. My brother bought a Zen Vision, the big one, and he couldn’t stand it.

    I like iPods and I will stay with them because it’s easiest to use on a Mac, it’s designed well and it hasn’t given me any problems. This is coming from someone who left iPod during the 4th gen to venture out to other mp3 players.

    I now own an iPod Touch and it’s great. Of course after the initial screen issue which pissed me off to no end.

    If Zune was THE player of the industry everything would be flipped. It’s really nothing more than that IMO, people not wantin to feel like they are giving in.

  55. lizzybee says:

    I’ve had my Zen Nano Plus for a couple of years now, and I love it! Everything drags and drops easily from Windows Explorer, and a AAA rechargable battery is good for about 12 or 13 hours of play time. The sound is fantastic! I was in the market for a new mp3 player about the time that the first gen iPod Nanos were having their screen and scratch issues. Aside from its flimsy battery cover, I haven’t had any complaints about it.

  56. theblackdog says:

    I’ll stick with my Sirius Stiletto 100. Not only can I load a pretty good amount of songs on it, I get satellite radio and can record off of it.

  57. TechnoDestructo says:

    If I could drag and drop files without need for itunes (and still be able to play them, I mean) I’d buy an ipod in a heartbeat.

    I bought an ipod for my dad, because it seems to be the best default device for people who don’t know what they’re doing. But itunes makes my sphincters tighten.

  58. wishlish says:

    Call me nuts, but the first purchase I plan to make once I zero out my credit card debt (I have a six month plan) is a new iPod classic. I want that 180 GB model. I have nearly a terabyte of music, and I’m always in the mood to hear something different from my collection. Plus, with my 2 hour train commute, I love watching video podcasts and TV shows.

    The only complaint I have about the iPod is the plastic on the front. It’s too easily scratched. And I’ve heard that the newer model is much more scratch resistant, and has longer battery life. I’m sold.

  59. Lacclolith says:

    The biggest reason why I’ve stuck with the iPod is just that my car has a built-in plug for the device inside of the glovebox, which allows me to change tracks and load playlists from the head unit while it charges the device. This feature among my favorite, as I don’t want to end up fiddling around with a player that’s wired up to the head unit through an aux-input jack.

    I honestly don’t give a hemorrhaging flip that it’s an Apple product nor do I care about it’s perceived coolness. It just works, and that’s all that matters to me. I AM sick of grabbastic little nerds screaming and hooping “ZOMG UR A ISHEEP!” every time the discussion comes up, or whenever one of them happens to notice I own one (it’s happened on more than one occasion), just as much as I dislike people who kiss the very ground that Darth Jobs walks upon.

    Everyone on both sides of the iPod Vs. Everything else battlefield needs to take two steps back and chill the hell out.

  60. icruise says:

    The iPod is popular because it is the best player out there (especially if you take into account ease of use, all of the accessories available, and the iTunes store). I’ll consider buying something else when there’s something else that’s actually better (and by better, I don’t mean that it offers one or two features that the iPod doesn’t have while skimping on the big picture). If you want to buy something else, fine. But don’t be stupid and buy a Zune just because you want to be different from everybody else.

  61. shiftless says:

    You can not buy an iPod, sure. But to be honest, I like having my entire music collection with me in the car. Also, you can get DRM free music on there or circumvent iTunes DRM. There’s tons of hacks you can do to them if something bothers you. It isn’t hard.

  62. Chicago7 says:


    I have the 30GB Dell DJ and it’s great. I also have the 15GB Dell DJ and there’s nothing wrong with it, except that I wanted the FM radio and it didn’t work on the 15GB.

    But I gave up and went to iPod because a) I couldn’t find any decent cases b) I wanted to get wireless earbuds and they didn’t work with the DJ c) I wanted 80GB or more and Dell doesn’t even make the DJ anymore, from what I can tell, let alone one with a larger hard drive.

    My 80GB iPod is almost full of music, and NONE of that music has DRM, so how can that be a problem with the iPod vs. the Zune? I don’t get it.

    I agree with the iTunes comments – iTunes sucks. I replaced it with Poddox, which is slow, but it doesn’t screw everything up like iTunes. I have downloaded a couple of other alternatives to iTunes and will be checking them out soon. Goog “iTunes alternative” for options.

  63. I admit, you caught me, I fell for the iPod Touch hoopla. To save $100 I only got the 8GB version, and its the first iPod I ever owned. The iTunes Syncing is a still a little weird to me, and I am absolutely appalled at the lack of video support. First, using a 3rd party transcoder, I have to convert my Windows videos to a format that iTunes will import, then I have to, within iTunes, convert the video to the iPod format! Its a usability nightmare.

    I also grabbed the Woot VIP 30GB Zune for $99 and plan to test them both out to see which I like better. Then, the other I’ll give as a gift or eBay away. Or something.

  64. deserthiker says:

    In my home we have four Shuffles, four Nanos and an iPhone. We are happy with all and see no compelling reason to switch. The iPod franchise is very successful for a good reason: it’s better than anything else out there.

    Note to Clementine: I am also a big fan of NPR. I download podcasts of NPR programs FREE and listen to them whenever I want. I don’t need an FM radio. In fact, I have two I could gives you.


  65. dvddesign says:

    I’m an ipod user, and have been for 4 years. I’ve been happy with the product this whole time, and haven’t felt “locked in” which is a popular complaint amongst naysayers.

    I’m also a gadget freak. I’ve owner, purchased, or been given every ipod up to the current generation.

    Personally, I won’t touch the Touch till the GB space is double or more. I got to play with it last night and honestly, I’d rather they’d just given the 16Gb to the iPhone rather than mess with the touch.

    16GB is laughable to me. I carry all my MP3’s with me everywhere. What exactly am I supposed to dump to make 45GB of music be pared down to fit inside 16GB?

    If I didn’t have the ipod, I’d probably go with Archos, since everyone of those I’ve used has been a slick little piece of kit.

  66. erratapage says:

    I love my 80 Gig IPod. I use it to watch videos and listen to podcasts. I totally get why someone would want to make a different consumer choice, however. For example, I’ve never bought a Mac even though they have great design. I shopped for a long time to find the right player for me. I support everyone else’s right to do the same.

  67. warf0x0r says:

    I was able to super glue my 20GB 4th generation iPod I got in 2005 to my Samsung N200 phone that I bought in 2001 together to create my own unlocked iPhone. its pretty sweet.

  68. leemajors says:

    lastvigilante – just get the videora iPod converter, it will convert nearly any format and then load it into iTunes for you. it’s very easy, and the newest version works great – some earlier ones were not as great. oh, and it’s free.

  69. dohtem says:

    Creative Zen Sleek Photo owner here.

    I like that I can just plug it into my computer, and use Winamp or WMP11 to transfer mp3s over. No need to install anything. In fact the cd that came with it is still in it’s sleeve, unopened. An iPod is nice but for my Zen works just fine.

  70. Snakeophelia says:

    Depends on what your needs are. I rarely use an mp3 player except for exercise and travel, which means I don’t need to have my entire collection on one gadget. My husband bought me a little Creative Zen player in purple a couple of years ago (my favorite color) because he was tired of seeing me haul around a Walkman, and it’s great. Obviously I’m not an early adopter! This means that I’ll probably get around to getting an iPod in the year 2015 or so, when everyone else has moved on to little nuclear-powered things about the size of a dime that hold all the music ever recorded.

  71. tph says:


  72. Anonymous says:

    4gb gen 2 nano here.
    I call it Kermit.
    It’s nice, but I don’t care all that much…
    I used to have a sansa that used AAA batteries, which I liked better because it was easier to keep a few extra batteries at work than it is to risk losing the iPod charger and have to replace it.
    sound quality is decent, but not noticeably better or worse than the sansa
    the storage capacity is bigger, though the unit I had used removeable flash memory. I had one flash card for work and one for workouts. Each cost me around $20 and boosted the memory on the unit to 2.5 gig. I bought the player for $40 and the cards for $20 each.
    So basically, I had an mp3 player with 2.5 gigs for $60. Thats a way better deal.
    Ipods are cool, but not the only horse in the race.
    The new samsung is hot. I like the new sansa’s. The sony mp3 player is tiny.
    I don’t care about video. who wants to watch a 2 inch screen? My eyes would hurt.
    Besides, that’s what I use my PSP for.
    If you want to save some dough, get yourself something else. the ipod is still expensive for what you get.

  73. rmz says:

    I had a 20GB Dell DJ (1st gen, I believe) and was very disappointed. The interface was awful, it couldn’t display foreign characters, the battery life was subpar, and it kept freezing and having to be paperclip-rebooted on a daily basis. I got it replaced via warranty and my replacement did the same thing.

    On another note, I’ve had three iPods (none of them replaced due to breaking, just upgrading) and I haven’t had any hardware or reliability problems with them.

  74. Smashville says:

    I know it sounds weird…but I have an iPod…not because it’s cool…but…GASP…because I like it…

  75. hoosier45678 says:

    iTunes sucks, but I’ve yet to see something that sucks less for dealing with sorta complicated setups, like having “his”, “hers”, and “our” music properly sorted out into his & hers ipods. The only media player allowed on our work machines is WMP10 and that thing is an abomination. No f’n way I’m ever getting a player that requires me to use it, or any other software with no richer interface to load a player than drag-and-drop.

  76. SaraAB87 says:

    I have the 14.99 refurbished Sandisk from its great and works like a charm, 512mb is more than enough for my songs and it displays the title on the screen which is my only requirement for an mp3 player, that it has some sort of screen. I also got a full package of accessories with mine, which I heard some people do not get. Its also nice to have 1 AA battery which pretty much ensures that I will have this player forever unless it dies or something, no battery to worry about replacing.

  77. BrooklynMike says:


    Uh… WHAT?

    I can convert WMV files DIRECTLY into ipod touch friendly files, and then drag them directly into my Ipod touch in itunes.

    I never once seen anything converting video IN itunes. If it’s ipod ready then its itunes ready, and vice versa.

  78. maevro says:

    I have a 6GB MicroSD card on my HTC s630, which also happens to be a 3G phone.

    I watch movies, TV shows and listen to music. Oh, and if I get a call, I don’t have to pause my phone to pick up another device.

    I am going to order a 8GB MicroSD card soon.

  79. quail says:

    After my wife went through two mp3 players I got her a Nano last year. Hers worked well enough that I bought one for myself. It, however, freezes at least once a week and needs restarting. All in all they’re good but I can’t stand iTunes. I burn everything I have through Media Player as a true mp3 and import it into iTunes. Would like my next player to not be an iPod, can’t stand the thought of being locked into the iTunes format.

  80. Namilia says:

    I’ll stick with my 3 or 4 year old RCA Lyra. It might not have gigabyte upon gigabyte of space, but I don’t need that much space anyways. PSP for videos, Lyra for music. Works out fine for me.

  81. ncboxer says:

    I own an iPod mainly because I can plug it into the factory stereo and control and listen to it from radio knobs and steering wheel controls. My car also has a separate line-in plug, but I would have to control it from the player, not the stereo. That would be kinda of dangerous when you are driving to be looking at a small screen of an mp3 player to control.

    That said, if it wasn’t for the iPod plugin the car, I would have gotten something else that had more features and cost less. I still lament over the fact that the iPod doesn’t have an integrated radio in it (I’m not buying the stupid looking plugin FM radio for the iPod). The video part of the iPod is useless for me- I drive to work, so I can’t watch it there. When I get home, why would I watch a tiny screen when I could watch something on my TV? I just talked a friend into buying a Sansa 4GB player for $90- those look nice.

  82. I still use a $20 Sanyo (or maybe it’s Casio) that runs off of an SD card, I purchased in Kuwait. The 512MB served me perfectly while I was roaming around base after duty and upon my return a quick $30 brought me up to 2GB.

    It has a voice recorded and screen and runs off a single AAA battery. My only complaint – the ‘tab’ that holds the battery backing in place broke, but a quick slice of scotch tape fixed that.

  83. overbysara says:

    I love my ipod. :shrug:

  84. Shrapnel09 says:

    Check out an Archos player. I have the Archos 604 wifi and am very content with it. It plays 30 gigs of music plus video. Use MediaMonkey as the application (iTunes replacement) and it’s smooth sailing.

  85. Namilia says:

    @Michael Wales: Heh, I forgot to mention mine also has a SD slot and runs off a single AAA :x. I still use a 512 for now..I’ll upgrade at some point but it isn’t a priority. I recently found a long-lost cable that allows me to plug it into the stereo system for better sound. Too bad it doesn’t work with the old Bose system, though. :S

  86. DavidInSeattle says:

    I went out of my way to not buy an ipod my first time around and ended up with a Rio Carbon. While it was an OK device, I had buyer’s remorse any time I saw someone with an iPod. Then, I dropped my Rio, just one time, and it was kaput. I replaced it with a first generation Nano and have been exceptionally happy with it. Plus, it’s survived numerous drops. When I upgrade to my next player, I will only consider an iPod.

  87. LionelEHutz says:

    I still use a cassette walkman. Nothing beats the sound of analog tape.

  88. drjayphd says:

    @bnosach: You mean like the original article said? Wouldn’t have caught that if it wasn’t for your comment…

  89. Scazza says:

    I never owned any ipods and never planned on doing so. Always been a fan of the Creative and Sandisk lines of products (far cheaper, and usually much better designed). However, a few months back I began shopping around for a wifi mobile browsing device (had my heart set on the Nokia N800). When the Ipod Touch was announced I literally fell in love. (btw, I think the iphone is a peice of trash… for a phone, so this isn’t just me getting the next best thing to an iphone). I’ve had the Ipod Touch for a week now (first ipod remember) and think its a stellar peice of equipment. It feels solid, it runs pretty damn good and all the little features seem to work so well (albums, wifi, even pictures).

    However, bloody Itunes. If there was some way on earth I could drop itunes I would in a heart beat. Its the most idiotic thing on the planet and how it syncs etc is just beyond me. In the age where most mp3 players are as easy as popping it in and seeing it as a harddrive, it boggles the mind that they use this garbage, and people keep going on about how amazing it is… I know there are itunes alternatives, but so far I have heard nothing about them working with the touch, so for now I am tied down.

    So imo, yeah, if you don’t want the fancy little touch (like you dont need wifi, etc), then difinatly go with a sandisk or creative zen. But if you are like me, and have a pretty average size collection of music (8 gigs seems way more then enough for me), and you think wifi on a portable device is important (the safari browser is pretty much full fledged, displays sites 100%, just no flash), then you really need to think about the ipod touch. The N800 is great, but it has a shoddy media player and its online browser is next to useless on many sites (but it runs linux!).

  90. drjayphd says:

    @Steel_Pelican: See also: “I don’t have to drive, so YOU SHOULDN’T OWN A CAR EITHER!”, et cetera.

    @backbroken: Except I use my Nano in the car, for podcasts. I don’t really work on NPR’s schedule, so getting Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, This American Life, All Songs Considered, and the Sunday Puzzle (along with other non-NPR podcasts) whenever they’re out is a huge help. (Although I wouldn’t recommend trying to learn Spanish while driving. Retention rate isn’t all that good.) Besides, all my music was in iTunes before I got an iPod, and it’s a hell of a lot easier for me. (Although it’d be nice if it didn’t gobble so much memory, but that’s what I get for having a 160+ GB library.)

  91. Mr. Gunn says:

    I’d just like to congratulate the Consumerist on posting such an article. Bravo for recognizing that for the >75% of computer owners that don’t have a hour commute on the subway and use a PC, the ipod isn’t the best choice.

    Drag and drop FTW!

  92. endless says:

    Show me a different mp3 player with a in car setup as sweet as my Pioneer 7900s ipod hookup and you will have me alot more interested.

    my 7900 freaking rules.

  93. Her Grace says:

    I’d love to hear more feedback on the 30g Zune from woot. I’m considering it, and need to buy it before it’s no longer available. I currently have a 512mb iriver, and really like it–but I often use it to listen to audiobooks, and it realistically only holds two long or three shortish novels. I hate having to swap them out so often, and something drastically bigger sounds like a good idea. I really, really dislike itunes (have used to as it’s the only place a few songs by a favourite artist of mine are available) and don’t want to get locked into that format, so ipods are out.

  94. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I’ll switch to the touch once Apple comes out with a 30GB one. And once I can save up the $300 to buy one….although my nano might fetch a bit of money on the open marketplace…if not, I’ll trade it in to apple and they’ll give me a discount, or I’ll just buy one when my sister buys her macbook next year or something.

    I have a nano and it meets my needs, although storage capacity’s wearing thin. I should have gotten the 30GB video.

  95. Shrapnel09 says:

    Check out MediaMonkey for the iTunes alternative. It’s a solid piece of software and should work with the iPod touch without a problem.

  96. Anonymous says:

    When I got my first current gen (at the time) DAP I bought a 2nd gen iPod Mini. I had such a bad experience with it that iPods are off the table for me now. I have a Sansa E250 and a Creative Zen V Plus, which is what I use currently. I really recommend the Sansa series if you are looking for an iPod replacement with a similar interface and form-factor. The price is right and there are so many media programs that work with mass storage devices that syncing is very easy if drag and drop is confusing or too time-consuming.

  97. drjayphd says:

    @Mr. Gunn: My playlists that automatically sync, requiring exactly zero effort on my part, FTW. And they trump your drag-and-drop FTW. ;)

    (Is it just me, or are people handing out wins to themselves way too easily?)

  98. Buran says:

    How about not being arrogant enough to think you know what people want? Don’t buy one if you don’t want, but don’t you dare tell me or anyone else what to do. I don’t like your tone.

  99. othium says:

    @Bloberry: Yes! I too love the Sansa!

    When I was shopping for a player, I wanted to find one with a lot of features. I settled on the Sansa E250 (I didn’t have a ton of cash..) as it has a voice recorder, video player, FM tuner, photo viewer. All these with no Itunes to install! It got even better earlier this year:


    I absolutely LOVE this open-source operating system! Custom themes, EQ settings, bookmarks for MP3 audiobooks.. and GAMES! I play Doom and a lot of Gameboy games on mine. Lots of plugins to fool around with. Soduku, chess, Solitaire, etc. -This has made me miss my bus stop a few times.

    It was so easy to install and it hasn’t given me a single hiccup in over 5 months. If you are thinking of getting a player other than an Ipod, you should definatley give the Sansa a look.

    ps- A great website for differetn players is – I found it to be a very good resource to find out about different players.

    There are a ton of accessories for the Sansa too! Armbands, covers, docks, headphones, chargers, transmitters, etc. – I can’t find anything the Ipod has that the Sansa doesn’t, besides the high price I guess.

    Sorry to gush about this player, but I really, really like it a lot.

  100. Catsmack says:

    I’ve had my Creative Zen Vision:M (30 GB) for about two years now. Very high quality on all accounts; and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally dropped it, but it works as great as the day I got it. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative to buying an iPod.

  101. dwarf74 says:

    I am a happy user of what may have once been an iRiver H320. I’ve upgraded the hard drive to 30gb, put in a 20-hour battery, and replaced the default firmware with RockBox. Now, the player has absolutely everything I wanted – gapless playback, a wide range of audio formats (including .ogg and several lossless formats), customizable display, good picture viewing, and a folder-like interface (which I vastly prefer to playing with tags). I’ve had it for 3 years, and won’t change until it disintegrates.

  102. dwarf74 says:

    @Buran: Awww, you seem like a grumpy bear. Do you need a hug?

  103. porktree says:

    I’ve always ihated itunes, so I never drank the ipod coolaid. I’m using a Sansa myself right now, and am pretty happy with it. I wish it didn’t have a proprietary usb plug (and like all my other devices used the 6 pin usb plug), but other than that it works great.

  104. not_seth_brundle says:

    For $30 you can buy a kit from Nike that plugs into a Nano and tracks your distance and pace while out running. There is nothing like this for any other MP3 player, AFAIK. That alone makes me an iPod person.

  105. hollerhither says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS:
    I have one of those Creative Zen nanos with armband, too — great for walking and the gym.

    I also have a Rio Karma that serves as a household stereo, I am praying that hangs on for a long time, as they don’t make ’em anymore. And a Zen Vision:M with a bunch of my DVDs ripped to it, great for long plane flights.

    And we have a Sansa. I’m not anti-iPod, just pro-diversity…and, okay, a little anti-iTunes.

  106. syndprod says:

    Currently happy with a 30GB Zen Vision: M. This was an upgrade from a 6GB Zen Micro, which is still in use.

    Roommate bought a Zune1 last month, and I’m very impressed. Considering 80GB Zune2 when it comes out.

    Oh, I use MediaMonkey – even paid the $20 for the Gold Version. Well worth it.

  107. pestie says:

    I bought a refurbished Sandisk 256M MP3 player on Woot for $20. That’s more than enough space to store music for a few trips to the gym, or a few hours of flight time. I spent about $80 on a really nice set of earphones which made a dramatic difference in the sound quality, plus I can use them with other devices as well. So, basically, I win.

  108. othium says:


    There are some power adapters available for the Sansa. I was a bit worried about the proprietary plug myself until I picked up one of those. Now I can recharge it whereever there is an outlet.

    The one year warranty came in handy for a friend of mine who experienced some problem with her screen. She had no hassles with obtaining a RMA authorization and recieved a brand new unit within one week of sending it in.

  109. @Buran: Umm, it was more of, like, a suggestion?

  110. SpaceCat85 says:

    +1 to everyone who said Archos & Cowon iAudio.

    I’ve got an Archos gmini 402cc that hooks up to my Mac without a problem & lets me copy music on/off freely, and I bought a Cowon G3 as a gift for a friend. That one gets about 40-50 hours out of a AA battery, and it actually has a radio tuner that gets good reception-we tested it out on a moving tour bus.

    Right now I’m split between getting one of the new Archos multimedia players for Christmas, or waiting for one of the updated HD-based Cowon players (the A3 & M7) to come out 2008-ish.

    If Creative would make their large DAPs cross-platform, I’d definitely look at them as well.

  111. mac-phisto says:

    i’ve yet to buy an ipod for myself (got my sisters the mini when it came out), but i’m really impressed with them. not so much b/c of their design or their click wheel, but b/c they are the whole package (or were until they started packaging without an a/c charger). there’s a lot to be said about the system that was developed to accomodate the ipod. it really requires almost no work on the part of the user.

    incidentally, i had to download the zune interface on my computer to stream songs to my 360. that is the worst media player i have ever dealt with in my life. itunes isn’t the best i’ve used, but the zune computer player is just awful in comparison.

  112. @leemajors: Thanks, I’ll give that a shot. It may streamline the process. I still think its rather unfortunate to have to rely on a 3rd party software in order to make my iPod usable the way I want it.

    @BrooklynMike: If you could tell me how you do it, I’m all ears. But 80% of my videos, when I try to drag them into iTunes, I get an error “The video cannot be imported because it is a format not supported by iTunes”. And then, sometimes, I’ll finally get a video into iTunes, but then when I go to drag it into my iPod, I get the same error saying it isn’t supported by iPod. And yes, there is a right-click menu item for “Convert video for iPod” and even “Convert video for Apple TV” right within iTunes.