No iPod for Me

11:33 pm PHT

If ever I would buy my own portable music player, it definitely won’t be an Apple iPod no matter how cool it is. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t appreciate someone giving me an iPod as a present—I would be thrilled to receive one—but I wouldn’t buy it with my hard-earned money.

The only thing that’s going for the iPod is its popularity. Feature-wise, there are other better (and cheaper) MP3 players out there.

If I were to buy my own portable music player, it should satisfy the following criteria:

  • File formats. No self-respecting music player will not have support for MP3 files, so that’s a given. But it would be nice if the player also has support for WMA, WAV, OGG, ASF, and AAC formats. In my case, it is not that necessary, since all my music files are in MP3 format (even the ones that used to be in MIDI and Module formats). And support for a particular format not only means that the player can decode the audio file but it should also be able to read the file’s metadata (like MP3’s IDv2 and IDv3 tags).

  • Data transfer interface. The player should support USB 2.0 at the very least so that data transfer is fast. Firewire is out of the question since I don’t have a Mac.

  • Memory size. I have no use for the iPod’s 20+ GB of storage. I would much rather have a PDA with 20GB than a player with that amount of memory. Since memory occupies a large component of the player’s price, I can actually make do with only 512 MB (enough for about 100+ songs) if that will bring down the cost. 1 GB would be even better.

  • Audio out interface. The line out port should be the common jack plug. This way, I have a choice on how I can listen to my music. I can use any common earphones or headphone in the market, I can plug the player to amplified speakers, or I can jack it up to a casette adapter so I can hook my player up to the car’s audio system. Versatility is the key.

  • Audio in. While voice recording is optional for me, it would be nice to have. (You can do impromptu interviews, or record speeches and presentations.) If ever the player has this capability, it should have both an internal mike and a line in jack port so that you can use it by itself or hook it up with your microphone of choice.

  • Playback controls. Play, stop, and pause are a given. But I also require previous/next track controls, and a way to fast-forward or rewind the current track (if not to an arbitrary point, at least in few-second increments). And shuffle/random mode is a must. Also, a way to select a particular track to play is a big plus, though not required.

  • Power supply. Built-in batteries are a no-no. Replacable rechargeable batteries, like the ones in most Nokia cellphones are better. But I can make do with players that require AA or MA batteries. And whatever the source, the player should be capable of at least 10 hours of continuous plavback (enough to cover 512 MB of typical music).

  • Display. The player must have some sort of display so that you can see the battery’s life, the song currently being played, and other bits and pieces of data. Backlighting is also required.

  • Fine volume control. Besides the regular volume control, I also want volume control on a frequency basis. Winamp’s 10-mode equalizer is nice to have, but I’d settle for a 5-mode equalizer or even just separate volume controls for bass and treble. I usually pump up the base and treble when I listen to certain types of music. Another nice thing to have is a way to tag songs with preset equalizer/volume settings though it’s understandable if that is too complicated to implement.

  • FM radio. This is a must! There are times when you just want to listen to the latest music or hear mindless DJ prattle, instead of your regular collection of songs.

  • Form factor. I don’t need an ultra-small music player, just one that’s small and light enough to handle. However, it should look stylish enough and not dorky. Of course, this is all a matter of taste.

  • Extra features. All other non-music-related features are optional. But here is a rundown of nice things to have in order of implementation complexity: Date and time display, alarm clock, stopwatch/timer, double-act as a USB external drive, calendar, IR support, numeric keypad, calculator, alphanumeric keyboard, to-do list, notepad, organizer, colored display, SMS support, MMS support, Java™ games, photo album, GSM voice calls, GSM tri-band support, Bluetooth™ support, WiFi support, web browsing, touch-screen display, digital camera, PictBridge support, office productivity software, photo-editing software, cure for AIDS, end to hunger, and world peace.

I have seen some music players that almost fit the bill, but maybe you guys have recommendations? So what’s your ideal music player?

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