Clarification: When I write, I don't prepare or organize my ideas, I just write what I would say if I was talking to you in person, so sometimes my blogs end up a little messy. I don't even proof-read what I write before posting it so you may find grammatical mistakes and poorly written sentences. Sometimes I'll read my blogs a day or two after publishing them and I may re-write things that weren't too clear and any embarrassing grammatical mistake. Also, English is not my first language, so I apologize if reading my blogs become a struggle. Of course, if this is the case, I would imagine you wouldn't continue reading.

Apr 26, 2009

The iSuck

To this day I still can't understand why iPod's became almost synonym for mp3 players. Well, I do understand why, but still, the fact this is the case kinda bothers me a little. I've been waiting to write this blog for years now, and since I haven't done any research recently, some of the information I talk about here might be outdated.

iPod's were not the first or the best mp3 players at the time they came out. Long before this happened I was craving having all my music collection (over 1000 CDs) in the palm of my hand, so I could listen to any song any time I wanted. I found an mp3 player that was the size of my wallet with either 60 or 80GB, I don't remember. It flipped open to reveal a big LCD screen where you could see all your files and folders, like a computer does. It had a remote control and you could also see pictures on it, in fact, this product was more advertised in photography sites than on audio sites. I don't recall the brand, and it wasn't cheap, but $600 to have all my music with me seemed like a good price at the time. I would plug it in with a regular USB cable and my computer recognized it as a regular hardrive. I would then drag and drop my music in and out of it however I wanted (
by then I had already converted several of my CDs to mp3s because for a year or two I've been using a "diskman" that could play mp3s. Being a technology freak, I was ahead of the game). I would double click on any music file in it (it played a few different formats) and they would play from any music playing software on any computer.

Several months later my best friend from Venezuela came to stay with me and my girlfriend at the time for a couple of weeks. She's a graphic designer and a Mac lover, and during these days the long awaited iPod finally came out. I must say I had no clue about an iPod was. With much excitement, my friend bought an iPod. She showed it to me, and I must admit, it was a beautiful device. Minimal, tiny, white, stylish, exactly the kind of things my friend is into. I believe it had 10GB, which was not nearly enough for me, and the price seemed a bit too much. It was around $350 or $400, but I might be wrong, all I recall is that I thought it was too pricey. But my friend was happy.

We charged the white little thing and plugged it in to her laptop to test it out. This is when I started to realize iPod's were not only overpriced, but also a pain in the ass. First of all, the USB cable is not a regular USB cable, but a special one made only for iPod's, which makes them more expensive, and if it ever brakes I couldn't use any of my other USB cables or buy one at the Office Depot close by. And this cable seemed very easy to break. It was also way too short. "Better connection" my ass.

To add music into it you had to use iTunes and only iTunes, and create playlists, and with the default configuration, when we dragged mp3s from my mp3 player to her iTunes playlist it would not only copy the music to her iPod, but also to her computer, to a weird folder with strange names inside the iTunes folder. And it took forever. We spend two days adding music to her iPod. But my friend was happy.

The interface was awesome, it was such a clever design, too bad you had to go through all that shit just to add music to it. I know that we were probably doing something wrong, and we didn't adjust the settings to our needs, but still, who the hell wants to have their music "organized" in a huge mess of folders that didn't make sense? But it was a little later that we discovered what I thought was just way too ridiculous for anyone to even consider getting an iPod: not only you couldn't use it on another computer without deleting all your music, but you couldn't take your music out of it! That's just insane, I thought. I had spent weeks converting all my CD's to mp3s, my CD's, and I was not allowed to copy my music to my other computers, or even to my friend's computer? I've always had more than one computer, right now, in this house there are 5. My friend was happy, but I started to look at her thinking how dumb was to buy that thing. The design had her hypnotized, which I can understand in her, and even when my mp3 player was not that big and cute enough, it certainly didn't look like an iPod. But whatever, the more she learned all the steps to be able to use her iPod the more excited she got. Then she got the mic to record voice and the FM transmitter to listen to music wirelessly in her car. Each one was like 40 bucks or more at the time.

So my friend left and I was thinking what a stupid purchased that was. But then I started seeing the commercials on TV, and more and more people getting iPod's, and I just didn't get it. Have the world gone mad? In the mean time, I just discovered that my mp3 player didn't really have a good audio quality, and me being an Audio Engineer, this was unacceptable, so I started researching to get another one, and perhaps, one with more space. Enter the almighty Xclef, a Korean made mp3 player. It came in 40, 60, 80, and 100GB drives, but you could also get a hardrive yourself. I got the 100GB one, for about $270. It read almost all audio formats at the time, including wave files, it used a regular USB cable, it was recognize on all computer as a hardrive, it had a mic and a line input, customizable EQ, FM tuner with the ability to record radio, and the battery lasted 24 hours. It also read ID tags, which we'll talk about in a bit. Perfect. It was a lot bigger than the iPod's were, and really ugly in comparison, but the looks didn't bother me and I was not going to go out jogging with speedo shorts listening music on my huge mp3 player any time soon.

I started to hear that the batteries of iPod's only lasted a few hours, and after only one year they died, and you had to send your mp3 player to Apple for a few weeks to get the battery replaced for an ridiculous amount of money. And then, one by one, all the iPod's that my friends had started breaking. Fuck that.

During my search for my mp3 player I read about many other choices that seemed much better, in fact there was, and probably still is, a website called Whenever any of my friend mentioned they were thinking about getting an iPod, I would do the right thing and tell them that they shouldn't do that. I would explain, give them information, statistics, articles, websites, etc, etc, etc, to no avail. They all wanted a fucking iPod. What's wrong with these people? By then I had already discovered that iTunes was the devil. It just suck. It's a clumsy media player that has all kinds of shit that I, and most of you don't want. It's a big advertizement disguised as a media player. It's a store, more than anything else. And iPod's are required to use iTunes. Yes, there are several hack tools and whatnot, but it shouldn't be like this. If you buy a song on iTunes then maybe it's fair to have restrictions about the amount of times you are allowed to copy such song, but your own music ripped from your CDs? "But it keeps my music organized". Bullshit, and how lazy are you, if you are talking about reading ID Tags, most media players do too.

I know that over the years iPod's have gotten better. They break less, cost less, the battery runs longer, etc. I have an iPhone, a jailbroken iPhone, which is not the same, but it's such a turn off to have to use iTunes every once in a while. I use the best audio player out there, and it's called Foobar2000. It's free, small, fast, easy, you can add as many add-ons as you need, change the way it looks, program a bunch of stuff on it, and I believe it was created by an audio engineer.

But I just didn't write all this just to say iPod's suck, and this is not another blog discussing Mac vs PC, which it's a stupid discussion, by the way. Apple is a corporation after all, and what they want is to sell their products. Yep, it's true that iPod's were a piece of shit and that iTunes is the devil, but I'm sure they are working on this and it's not their intention to put out crappy products once in a while, like all corporations do. In the mean time they just use very good marketing, and it's obvious it has worked. It works because some of you people have this need to fit in, to follow the trend, to stop thinking rationally, and to disregard any objective research just to look cool. I don't think it's even fear that the other mp3 players are products of less quality, it's just that you want to be cool. That or that you are too lazy to look up all the many other better options you have. You, my friends, are the iSuck's, and most of you who have paid top dollar for that white little thing have sucked it really hard.

I might have sounded harsh, but I promise I wrote this with all my love, and to the two or three people that might read this, I just want to say that I love you.

Your friend,


ps. After years and years I still have my Xclef, it still works perfectly. My brother and father have Xclef's too and they still work also. Unfortunately, the company who was importing them went out of business a few years ago, just before they were going to put out a media player smaller than iPod's with a 5.1 output. Thank you.


tim kerrick said...

good article - lots of good points.
the only reason I have an iPod, is it's the largest mp3/media player available with audiobook support the way I like it. If the zune (which is better in every way) could handle an audiobook as one solid file - I'd go back

rocio aka vitamin r said...

you know what i remember my dad telling me about the DMC Xclef HD-500 a few years ago,and i remember being a jerk telling him he should buy something else..and i think he did....creo que una consola oh algo de para el estudio.Anyways ipods do suck,ive got a zune the real old one,its not great but ive had it for 4years now i think,and all my friends ipods have gotten broken.Everytime i use it,everyone is like "What the fuck is that huge thing" im like "fuck you" and thats it lol other than that AWESOME BLOG!!! :)

Anonymous said...

My IPOD is black.

CE54R said...

I like black iPod's a little bit better :)