The Other Ipod & Zencasting

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

That was one of my faves from an entire gamut of such levelheaded quotes as spoken by Tyler Durden aka Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Even after this being playing-in-a-loop at the back of mind I went ahead to buy an IPOD. Not exactly an IPOD. But the other IPOD. God created Apple, ITunes and IPOD for the classy dudes. For the masses he gave Windows, Media Player and Creative Zen. Creative Zen isn’t a poor man’s IPOD but indeed it’s an intelligent man’s IPOD. Yep, I may admire the professional qualities of Steve Jobs. I may re-read The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, I may have booked ICon at the local library even before it is released or I may even aspire to build a small network of Apple Mac Mini at home but I may not buy IPOD.

Why ? I hate to pay Apple 100 bucks every year when my battery dries up. $105 just to open a lid of IPOD and tuck in a mobile phone battery may prove a costly for the masses like me, especially for ones who loves to listen every single genre of songs available. While I love the IPOD wheel and have read enough of gaga over it’s UI, I felt that on the same price with an extra GB of storage, a FM radio and voice recording capabilities(which I am sure I would never use), Creative Zen Micro was a killer buy. A true replacement for those IPOD Minis . It has a battery that can be easily replaced. Infact only after I bought it I saw for myself that the batteries of Zen can be easily misplaced too. Yeah, the back lid is just not tight that even when Unni Krishnan is singing Enakke Enakka!!, in your ears, it might have fallen down on the stairs.

Creative Zen looks cool to me just because I haven’t used any other mp3 player except CD players until now. It is certainly not durable. The casing looks as though it might even break with the first fifteen days that I might return it to Best Buy to take a refund. But the user interface is nice as an IPOD. As anti-hyped, the touchpad isn’t all that bad. I got used to it before I was out of the store counter. Creative Inc known for their computer audio/video accessories have done a great job in designing Zen and it’s generation of MP3 players. It’s been born from the dis-advantages that IPOD currently has and will attract people who don’t want an IPOD. I’m just a little curious about the performance of mini drives, which is used in Zen or IPOD mini. I would feel comfortable with a flash drive because these mini drives poses risk of read/write issues and might soon end up with clusters of bad sectors. The sound is crystal clear but don’t believe if someone says Zen or IPOD only have such clear sounds. MP3 players are digital and will certainly have more or less the same frequency. It’s actually your headset/earbuds that might make the difference.

I’ve been hearing the podcasts for the last few months. So for those who religiously worship Creative’s Zen, let it be re-christened as Zencasting. And the thing about podcasting is that it simply doesn’t impress me much. Podcasts may be a hit but may not take-off as blogs, is my humble belief. This may not be a prophetic statement but may become true as Podcasts are widely understoof. I may also probably change minds once Evhead‘s Odeo is released for public. But for as of now, other than BBC stuff I am still figuring out the good Zen[Pod]casts.

I might stick with this Creative Zen until Steve decides to gift me an IPOD or he releases IPODs with replaceable batteries. This Zen unit is a lucky one. It gets to play some of the best songs ever composed. Be it Illayaraja or Rahman. Currently our Maestroji is singing the cult classic, Adi Vaadi Enn Kappa Kezhangey.

Update 26 May 2004 IST – As an anti-climax, the ZEN which was fully charged this morning, lost all it’s battery charge by evening even though I had only listened to it for two hours. I had switched it off for the rest of the time. Yep, I’m returning it for an IPOD test drive. I might probably settle with those 1GB flash drives with FM and voice recording(as said before, though I wouldn’t be using it). Best Buy, here I come.

34 thoughts on “The Other Ipod & Zencasting

  1. LG,

    Welcome to the Creative Club. I also went for a Creative product as it is packed with lot of features like FM player, FM recorder, voice recorder etc. It also plays WMA format which iPOD doesn’t support. I own a Creative Zen Touch, which comes with a 20 GB hard disk.

    Zen Micro comes in 10 colours…have u decided which one u r gonna chose? What is the going price over there. I think Zen Micro comes in 3 sizes – 4, 5 & 6 GB. One more reason to buy the Zen Micro is because of the fact that Paris Hilton is endorsing it.

    When I woke up today morning I saw all the comments u & IBH had left in my blog!

  2. I don’t understand this Ipod/walkman culture. How often you listen to songs in a whole day? 4 hours? I occasionally do it in the office then the FM radio to and from work. In fact I prefer the radio because itΒ’s a live show and not some predetermine playlist that you will eventually get bored.

  3. Lazy, Creative Zen may sport features such as voice recording, fm radio and it may even be cheaper than iPod Mini and have a large capacity. But what it doesn’t have is a great interface and superb usability. Try as they might, iPod owns every other competitor in terms of usability (I would know, Ive got an iPod, iPod Mini, Shuffle and Creative Zen). Ultimately on a daily basis its how you use your machine that counts and in that area Apple is supreme. Battery is a common complaint and also common flogging from Apple for non-Apple fanboys, however the battery the problems that plagued the 3G iPod are gone and the iPod mini now (from my usage) pulls in about 15hrs on a single charge. Thats more than enough for me.
    Ofcourse, I forgot to mention, Apple owns the competition in style and form factor, Zen might have a touch pad, but I wonder who brought it out in the first place? Also try using an iPod on a Mac, its so seamless and painless, Windows doesnt come close.

    Oh and btw, its not just your Zen that is lucky, so is my iPod, it has Illayaraja thumping out that wonderful song.

    I’m a self admitting Mac user and fan, but as many would know… with good reason!

  4. I have a Ipod Photo, i think its great, although now you have scared me that the battery runs out after a year or so.

  5. guru,

    we have 3 ipods in our family and it has also replaced the load of cds i used to store in my car. i have not had any problems with it so far despite working off a windows based computer. what has me raving about it now is their customer service. i had a dot on my lcd screen that did not hamper my ipod’s capability to play music, but just bothered me from an aesthetic point of view. i took it in to the apple store despite having bought the ipod from another store. the lady in the geek squad out there took one look at it, told me that she did not know what it was or how to fix it and then she hit me with a whopper of a question: “would you prefer a new one?” the whole transaction took less than 20 minutes and i walked out with a new ipod, no additional cost charged!!!

    bet that would not happen anywhere else. and that is why the ipod still has the edge in my mind! besides the ipod was playing illayaraja songs much before the zen came up on sale πŸ˜‰

    katz

  6. Kaps, I already bought Zen Micro over the weekend. So I joined the Zen club.

    Manu, Thanks for the suggestion. Will look into it.

    Maran, True. I don’t listen music or podcast more than 4 hours in a day. I still bought it. The first paragraph of the post taken from Fight Club should answer your question.

    Venkat, Man do you this list of player or you test drive’d them. But finally we desis blessed the generation of Ipods and Zens with Illayaraja songs. Amen !!

    Nitin, Carry on enjoy with your Ipod. Apple is always there to rescue. This post was in self-defense to finish the manaporattam I was having after buying Zen πŸ˜‰ Read between the lines and you will know.

  7. Katz, I never knew that you already blessed IPods with Illayaraja before πŸ˜‰

    My first point of moving away Ipod was the battery issue. Forget the buck spent on changing it. I have to live without the IPod for two weeks when it travels to Apple for that simple abttery to be changed. I may not be. Do you agree ?

    Convince me for an IPod and I will return this one for a Ipod mini. Anyone ?

  8. I’m with you Guru. Agreed that the Ipod is the coolest kid on the block.. However, being a techie, I had stayed away from the Ipod Mini 4gig players. There are a few reasons for that.. simplest reason being that they sucked on battery time per charge. However, the 5gig and the 6gig versions have longer battery life per charge.
    The other reasons would be inferiour sound quality, (I know that statement is flame bait but I will still go ahead and say it ’cause its a fact), no native FM capabilites & no native dictaphone capabilites. Most of those features are standard on other comparable products these days for cheaper prices.
    If only some other manufacturer could make a player that looked as cool as the ipod. The m:robe is the closest afaik on the looks department.

  9. Creative is launching the Zen Neeon.. its basically a much more stylish version of the zen micro.. a la olympus micro:be style.. its launching this friday (270505) in singapore..

  10. The whole battery issue with ipod is a myth. I have an Ipod, mini, zen, zen touch and shuffle. I pod batteries are easily replaceable. I have replaced it from my friend. It’s a piece of cake. I have had issues with the zen touch on extreme conditions in Chennai and Salem on my last trip. On the other hand ipod was rock solid in itΒ’s performance.

  11. manu , u do mean the 2nd generation ipod minis when u say 5gig and 6gig right?? the ones with the 18 hour battery life.. going just by the reviews , the sound quality is apparently better for the micro, but i am not an audiophile. no flame there.

    it all just depends on what you want..i dont buy anything just because it has more features than another.if it does what i want it to do, i’m more than happy. am i ever going to use a microphone to record lectures i (never) attend ?? NO..i’d just be too self-conscious to whip it out and point it at a prof. and i am not a big fan of the radio here either…no illayaraja or rahman πŸ™‚

  12. Car-la windows erakki vittu,
    signalla nikkumbothu,
    volume full throttle yethi,
    “Manguyilae Poonkuyilae” kelappi,
    pakkathu car american ammaniyoda
    vidhyasama punnagaya mathikkama
    enjoy panrathula irukura sogam,
    intha Ipod-layo Zen-layo kedaikathu πŸ˜‰

  13. I agree with Maran. Also, nothing like choosing mp3s from your PC’s hard drive and playing it on your speakers with sub-woofers instead of wasting $$ on rechargeable batteries and micro-players.
    I hate anything that requires constant recharging, like digicam batteries and cellphones. I dont want to add to the list.
    Probably for people who constantly travel, this might be useful.

  14. I think they stopped the battery drying out problem with the new ipods and ipod minis. the new ipod minis run almost 24hrs, although it says 18hrs. thats amazing. i wanted to get the ipod mini but i decided on getting the ipod photo for the size, but now i think, man 30gb is a lot, and i put all my tamil songs, and english songs on there ,and have reaced only like 5gb. but i guess on the longrun it will be useful.

  15. I agree with you Guru, IPods are not for the masses. I settled for Rio Carbon, it does almost the all the things Ipod does (plays music!)and I love it! It is priced 150 bucks lower! Rio is much smaller and sleeker than the IPod:)

  16. guru,

    it is not a matter of selling you on the ipod, it is a matter of you deciding just what you ultimately want!

    in my family we have 2 20 gigs and 1 mini and all three work well. i have not had a battery problem and i charge my ipod once in 5 days, unless of course im on the road, when it gets charged as it plays. for me personally, the ipod aesthetically is cool looking and very sleek. i dont care too much abt the 20 gig’s weight for i dont plan to utilize it when i am at the gym for i like to exercise unfettered by such inconveniences. i dont know abt the creative thingy, but ipod has a wire transmitter which is basically a cable. i hook one end into my ipod, the other into the car charger outlet, tune my fm station into one of the pre-set stations on the transmitter and voila, i have 3250 songs to shuffle play or listen up straight as i drive. it helped clear my clutter of cds stored in the car, has reduced my cd making considerably and most importantly, works just as easily in madras too! i had a whale of time in madras last time, just chilling to techno and trance as i cruised around madras. life couldnt be any sweeter!

    as for the fm and other extra-fittings that the creative thingy has is of no use to me. i dont listen to fm at home and listen to it only when i drive. got the car stereo for it. at work, i prefer my songs to fm. now if creative was equipped with sirius or xm, then its tempting. but the last thing i want to do is to listen to commercials on my personalized mobile music player!

    ps – while the opening song on my ipod was paradise city, since then i have everything on my ipod from illayaraja to arr to suprabhatham to shakti to even golden tamil songs and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear brindavanum nandakumaran blaring immediately after oakenfold!!!

  17. A true geek should go for iPod as you can install linux and do a couple of more things with that.

    Zen is also notorious for battery drain during idle hours.

    That said, I will hesitate buying an iPod just because every kid down the street own one. πŸ™‚

    (domesticatedonion – as there was a venkat before)

  18. Hey all fellow iPodphiles… I remember reading somewhere that using the shuffle function too much eats up on battery life… while I cant confirm that for sure, it certainly makes sense…
    I use my own playlists or use the on-the-go playlist feature for that randomness in life…

    Other geeks, any thoughts on this?

  19. Coincidentally, I just received online adverts for the Zen Micro 5GB (US$183) and Mach Speed 128MB thumb drive/MP3 (US$9).

  20. way offtopic from ipods and zen micro. hey LG, and others have you guys ever watched this tamil serial called chidambara ragasiyam on SUNTV, its amazing, its an excellent serial directed by Naga. Its about nadi joshiyam, and some murders, and how there is a cure for aids in olachoodis. Naga has previously done other unique and great serials like Marma desam in Rajtv. So I was just wondering if you guys watch this serial, i think it will end in a few more weeks, but its getting interesting. I went to chennai last summer, thats when it started, and I have been watching it ever since, never missed an episode, today was the 47th episode, it comes once every week.Again I say this serial is simply amazing, the direction, music, and the story.

  21. If you got extra dough, try gadgets such as Creative’s Zen Portable Media Center, Archos’ Pocket Video Recorder AV400 or even MSI’s Mega View 566. These combine features such as music, video and photo viewing. And it doen’t stop here – these gadgets can record video too, from sources such as TV or a DVD player. MSI is my dream gadget and am saving up some greens for it. Check out each of these here:

    MSI – http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/
    ia/ia/pro_ia_detail.php?UID=611

    Archos – http://www.archos.com

    Creative – http://www.creative.com/products/
    product.asp?category=210&subcategory=211&
    product=9882

    Ta!

    For the heck of it: http://precogssnickers.blogspot.com

  22. Catcharun.. Yes, I mean the 2nd gen minis.. They consume lower power ’cause of the Seagate 1 inch in them. The first gens use the Hitach MicroDrive which were power hoggers.

    When I say standard features, I really mean standard.. They don’t even provide arm bands / protective cases for the Ipods for the price they charge.

    Guess the Ipod will rule for quite sometime till someone comes up with something that looks as cool as it.. The bar on the “cool” design has been set, God only knows when some other manufacturer will raise that bar. From most people’s opinion just here on this comment section, its pretty clear that looks (and probably the brand name) are the deciding factor as long as they can hear some music coming out of the player :-)..

  23. Zen pales in comparison to iRiver.. H320 is amazing.. it can even be tweaked to play Videos (who wants to watch in a tiny screen is a diff qn). iriver produces better audio output than any other mp3 player. also if ur gonna spend 300+ on this… get one of those shure e2c or e3c headphones ( upwards of $100)! they sure are worth it..

  24. Lazy, I work as a Product Dev Eng at Creative..Regarding the reduced battery life, it is a known issue here. We have created a firmware upgrade to specifically address this issue. Upgrading to firmware v1.02.05 prevents this battery drain..You can download the firmware from our support page: http://us.creative.com/support/downloads/download.asp

    Hope this helps!
    Vijay

  25. Vijay S,

    Thanks for that note. I have read about this battery drain and I was assuming that the new pieces were already upgraded to the new firmware.

    Good that I finally got Creative support even through the blog.

  26. Hey geek, I liked your comments at the top of this post.
    “… an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy (stuff) we don’t need.”

    This is the reason I live off of Free Stuff.

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