( #iPod, #Apple)
Note: I really hate this commercial. Bring back Feist 🙂
I have had this conversation so much over the last few weeks that I decided to document it, so I can just point to this post instead of actually having to say it again. Sorry in advance to the Apple fan boys.
So to get right to the point, why don’t I buy Apple products? I won’t buy the laptops because they are underpowered and very expensive. The end. That being said, their native video editing software is MUCH better than anything that comes for free on Windows (or Linux). So I can completely understand someone in the video field having a Mac.
What about iPods/iPads? Lets start with the device itself. I had one about 5 years ago. The damn thing NEVER synced right. NEVER! So I bought a $15 dollar Sansa on Woot, and it is still alive, has great battery life, and works exactly like I want it to. To further my point, even though I was off the iPod bandwagon, I got one for my wife 2 years ago and she had the same damn problems. I hate the iTunes desktop program with a passion. I hate that Genius sidebar. And I don’t think it is a very intuitive piece of software when it comes to managing your music collection. Windows Media Player actually does a better job. Seriously. How is that even possible?
Now lets talk about the iPod eco-system. The iTunes store and their DRM-loaded, m4a file formats is an absolute abomination. I have a Xbox360, a Logitech Revue, PS3, 2 Android Phones (including my wife), a tablet, and a TV that streams DLNA. Out of all of those devices, the only thing that plays music from iTunes is the PS3. If I had a music collection that was all iTunes, I would have to buy an Apple TV (which is only 720P) or a few devices that support the format.
So up until 2010, the music file quality (bitrate) for iTunes was 128 kb/s, I read that they actually removed DRM and upped the quality to 256 kb/s which is a good move, but why not just sell in MP3 format so you can access your music on your other devices (you PAID for it!). Here is the bottom line on the quality issue: you are paying more money to buy an album on iTunes than a CD now costs, but if you rip the CD on your computer you get better quality (320 kb/s) and you can play the file on anything you want. I should also note that Amazon sells music in DRM-free, MP3 files at 256 kb/s and all of your purchases are backed up on their cloud.
I just recently converted a friend to a digital set up but it was pretty difficult since he purchased music via iTunes. I found a device made by Western Digital that does streaming and connects to home networks for music files (that transmits in 1080p). So for those who have not made several equipment purchases and are stuck with iTunes, this is a solid compromise. That being said, I have a friend who is just getting into digital music (most of his collection is still on CD) and he wanted to use iTunes, which I steered him away from. Here is a part of our most recent exchange that was kicked off after I sent him this article:
Friend: But what about scenarios like what Apple is imposing…low bitrate, but high quality. What becomes the test there? Or are you saying to avoid that type of situation entirely and never try to save space (which I think is silly anyway this day and age).
Me: Space is cheap, for music go for the higher encryption rates. Avoid their nonsense all-together. It will only work on their products anyway which doesn’t help if you are listening through a good sound system. They are designing for the headphone/Apple TV crowd.
Friend: I agree 100% on all this. Apple makes nice-looking devices, but ultimately if you’re into getting quality media from them, you’re out of luck.
Me: Also if you are a 19 year old hipster living in NYC and listening to your iPod with the buds all day hopping trains and ignoring bums, it may work, but I listen to my music through my sound system… unencumbered.
So that is basically why I avoid iTunes music and in general, Apple products. I am sure there are plenty of counter-arguments to be made, but I built an eco-system in my house that works and welcomes all sorts of equipment and I don’t want to change that.
Here is a question to my readers – will Apple let you re-download your previously purchased music files now DRM free and at the better bit rate?
PS: One more thing that drives me nuts is the media’s illusion that everybody uses a Mac. If you are looking between Mac vs. PC users, Windows has 89.2% of the market.