What Do You Know? I Did Get An iPod

11:58 pm PHT

Remember when I said that I wouldn’t get an Apple iPod? Well, I changed my mind. I’m now a proud owner of a black Apple iPod Nano 4GB, which I bought in Akihabara for only ¥24800 (around 10,600 pesos). I can’t wait to turn my younger sister green with envy. Hehehe.

Back then, I really didn’t want the Apple iPods. First, because they had no FM, and because they were more expensive than similarly-priced gadgets. (I couldn’t fault Apple for their really excellent designs, though. And iTunes is quite a joy to use. [We have an iPod Shuffle, remember?]).

So what changed my mind? Well, I wrote that “No iPod” article back when I didn’t knew much about MP3 players. Since then, I’ve researched some quite a bit more. Among the multitude of choices, I almost convinced myself to get the Creative Zen Micro, primarily because it looked good enough compared to the Apple iPod Mini, was affordable, and because it had an FM receiver. But apparently, too many people complained about its earphone jack problem and I wasn’t too sure about the quality of its FM radio.

Enter the Apple iPod Nano. The Nano almost convinced me to consider getting one when it came out. It looks so damn good. But I wasn’t swayed from my Zen Micro choice at that time. I’ve seen the new Sony Walkmen, and they were also quite good, especially their famed long battery life. But many people really hated the Sony Soundstage software so Sony is out of the question.

Then Apple came up with the Remote FM accesory. While expensive, it’s sure to have better FM reception since it’s got long wires to serve as the antenna. It certainly made me consider the Apple iPod a bit more.

Finally, a trip to Japan comes. By that time, my choice was between the Creative Zen Micro Photo and the Apple iPod Nano. When I spotted the iPod Nano 4GB being sold for 24,800 yen, cheaper than the 2GB Nano back home, I noted it down and canvassed some more. I came back (since the other stores were selling it at 27,000 yen) and finally bought it. I figured, if I didn’t like it, I could always sell it back home.  =)

Anyway, I’ve been using it while commuting between my place here and the office, and I’m liking it.

One thing that tripped me up though was that it seems that both the iPod and iTunes software does not correctly interpret the Replay Gain MP3 ID3v2 tag. I have been using the MediaMonkey jukebox software to organize my music and I had it tag all of my collection with this Replay Gain tag so that compatible software will play the music at the same volume. Apple mangles this up. Some of my music became silent while others played too loud. I ended up letting iTunes determine the playback volume for my collection.

There’s only one more major thing I don’t like about the Nano. Like many other music players, it’s afflicted by a lack of gapless playback capability. And according to this article, Apple iPods are notoriously bad.

I’ve tried this for myself and the Nano does insert a large gap between songs—about half a second or so. I’m hoping that Apple listens to this online petition and implements gapless playback. It should only take a firmware upgrade that enables some sort of double buffering to provide gapless playback. (Due to the way the MP3 format is designed, truly gapless playback is impossible with vanilla MP3 files, but gaps shouldn’t exceed more than 37 milliseconds. [There is a proposed ID3v2 tag, which addresses this MP3 limitation, however.])

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