12 June 2006

Now and ZEN

I start with a question, after more than a month of owning my newest MP3 player: Why does it like Don Henley's "New York Minute" so dad-blamed much?? It's come up on shuffle at least half a dozen times. What gives?!?!

Allow me, please, to get all of you up to speed on my MP3 situation ("all of you"?? *snort*, as if I'm addressing a large group of folks hanging on my every typed word....).

In case you don't remember, let me refer you to a past quote from The Gleck Blog Archive (imagine reverb here, as if talking in a long, dark and dank hallway):

"I'm not sure I'm happy with this player, if truth be known. If it weren't this close to our trip to Arkansas, I'd go ahead and return it to Best Buy and change it out for another model (iPod, maybe?). The player delivers great sound and does very well in shuffle mode .... we shall see how it does for the big trip." ("At Long Last", 02/21/2006)

The player in question was the Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox -- 30 GB capacity. I bought it at Best Buy with Christmas Wampum back in December.

The sound was pretty good, the shuffle mode worked well, and it had what I needed - 30 gigabytes of storage, which I wanted as I'd spent months on months converting thousands of songs from my music collection into MP3 format in preparation.

But came the bad points: no tactile function on the controls. It was slow in response, so when I'd fast forward or repeat a track, sometimes it'd go back several tracks. I like tactile on my devices -- I like hearing that *click* which tells me "Talmadge, you've successfully introduced stimuli into your machine to have it go [back/forward] a track." And the color video display window was awfully tiny. (Click the above link for a visual and user reviews)

The volume control was another matter. You had to have it maxed out to 11 just to get a decent sound out of it, be it through headphones or into our cars (our Element has an onboard aux input, and I rigged one for our Civic Hybrid).

And the battery. Hoo-hooooooooooo ..... rated at 15 hours per charge.

Two words: MY ASS. One did well to get 4-5 hours out of this puppy. That's not enough time to get me from my Effingham County home in Jawja to the wilds of Troy, Alabama ... normally a six-hour journey.

At the time I bought the GoGear, it was the only non-iPod MP3 player with that big a hard drive. And, of course, I was blinded by excitement at finally getting my toy.

As the device's shortcomings began raging, fate intervened as I drove to Valdosta to get my son for his Spring Break visit. While on the way back home with Tiger in tow, the GoGear began displaying a white screen. NO audio, just a white screen. I pushed the small reset button and back to life it came. Then, after a pit stop, I turned it back on. White screen again. Only this time, resetting didn't work. And it wouldn't turn off, either. So it stayed nice and white until its lithium-ion battery gave out less than an hour later (ref. "MY ASS" comment above).

It's here that I thanked all the deitys in the Holy Council for having dropped the $39.95 toward the Best Buy product replacement plan. Normally, I think it's a crock, but with a new technology like MP3 players I thought it a small price to pay for "peace-of-mind."

Sooooooo .... I made my claim, boxed up this vile gangrene'd limb and sent it off. Then I waited in vigil for my Best Buy gift card (an ordeal in and of itself - it took damn near a month). And, once that was in hand, I went shopping again.

Early in 2006, Creative Labs had debuted a beautiful piece of MP3 player magic, the Creative Zen Vision:M. 30 GB. Everything the GoGear wasn't. Bigger screen (2.5"), tactile controls (not counting the touch pad in the middle, but that's workable), and more options as to synching with your computer.

Trouble is, there weren't any. Demand outstripped supply. This puppy was the "Tickle Me Elmo" of 2006.

So I waited. And waited. Trips into Best Buy became exercises in futility. I was starting to be known as "the fat, balding Zen Vision guy" around that department. I was this close to breaking down and, head between my hindparts, drop the Best Buy gift card toward an iPod. (nothing against 'em, honest, but Apple makes you buy all the extras, like an AC cord .... you're otherwise stuck charging the device with a USB port, an excruciatingly slow process)

An iPod would've ended up costing me another $40-50 just to get the supplies normally found in non-iPod players. (side gripe: 99% of the aftermarket accessories are made for iPods only - not the Zens or other PC-based players) Oh, and iTunes - while a great way to buy music - doesn't like the MP3 format too well. And that was my format of choice here.

However, impatience was beginning to win. I wanted another MP3 player -- I had nearly 5,000 songs (4,963 to be exact) waiting for playback outside the confines of our computer.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go that route. The sun finally came out on Friday, May 5. The gods sang in Best Buy at about 3:30 p.m. THEY HAD THREE (3) ZEN VISION:Ms IN STOCK!!!

Make that TWO (2); I exited the store with one of 'em.

I loaded all 4,963 tunes -- ranging from Jack Jones to Judas Priest to Johnny Cash -- just in time for a quick road test to Missouri and back the following weekend. She passed with flying colors. My ZEN has a name: "GleckOla Jukebox" ... or, you can call her my "TalPod."

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways -- you can create playlists, edit titles and add or delete content on the ZEN through Windows Explorer (after installing the drivers and Creative software) ... couldn't do that with the Philips; IT required the use of the bloated Microsloth Media Player, a piece of software I revile. You had to synch the Philips using only the WMP. With the Creative, you have options -- WMP, if you choose, or the Creative software, or my favorite: the tried and true DRAG-AND-DROP. Just highlight any MP3 title(s) on your computer and right click, then select "add this file to Creative Zen Vision:M"

Then, BADDA-BOOM! There it is!

Pictures display beautifully on there -- in it I have a full set of my wife's cake pictures to show off to anyone willing to see 'em (and those not). And it renders video fantastically.

... not to mention the new TalPod has a far longer battery life.

Like anything else, it has its drawbacks (what doesn't), but the advantages far outnumber. I wish this were available back in December.

Oh, and just to be on the safe side, I did get the product replacement on this one, too. :-)

That decision took a New York minute.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Just 37 songs shy of 5,000" Gleck

1 comment:

nettiemac said...

(side gripe: 99% of the aftermarket accessories are made for iPods only - not the Zens or other PC-based players)

I feel your pain. Nothing matches the RCA Lyra 2212D either.....