Apple iPod

the worst value for your money
The iPod is to other music players as a one-button mouse is to a 3-button scroll-wheel mouse. It's simple, elegant, and extremely limited.

The following are feature comparisons between iPod models and their similarly-priced competition. I chose the models here (X5, EMX-900) because they are what the people I know use, so I have access to them for testing. Other models (Creative, iRiver, etc) are also very nice, offering more features than the iPods without any additional cost.

iPod Photo vs. iAudio X5

FeatureiPod PhotoiAudio X5
Storage Space 30G 30G
Price $330 (street) $330 (street)
Size (inches) 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.63 4.08 x 2.39 x 0.56
Standard Audio Formats MP3, Wav, AIFF MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Wav
Proprietary Audio Formats AAC, Audible, Apple Lossless WMA, ASF
Plays Video No Yes, MPEG4 (xvid)
Display Photos Yes, after re-encoding* Yes
Voice Recorder Requires $30-$40 accessory Yes
FM Radio No Yes
FM Recorder No Yes
Line-in Recorder No Yes
Works as a USB storage device (without special drivers) No Yes
Copy files to/from a computer In a limited fashion Yes
Basic PIM functions View contacts, calendar, to-do, text View text files
USB 2.0 Yes Yes
USB 1.1 No Yes
Firewire Yes; cable not included No
Pull images from cameras Requires $30 accessory Yes
Compatible with Mac & PC must reformat the drive* Yes
Works without special PC software No Yes
Resistant to scratches Not at all Yes
Screen protectors included No Yes
Audio quality Medium High
All features work out-of-box No, requires extra (commercial) software for some features Yes
Physical interface Touch wheel 5-way joystick, and buttons
Known bugs (detailed below) (detailed below)

Known iPod Bugs

Sometimes erases itself. iPod must be completely wiped and reset to recover.

Battery reliability is a gamble, from what I hear. The device may need to be exchanged in order to get a "good" battery.

This is not a bug (it's a feature, really!), but it seems that all iPod models explicitly forbid the user from copying any playable files, or playing any copy-able files. Dumping files to an iPod is a one-way road.

Scratches easily -- especially the Nano models, which get scratched by cloth, fingernails, and other soft objects. This review sums things up nicely:
Basically, while the iPod's design looks very nice when you first take it out of the box, it fails miserably at holding up that appearance.

My Cowon iAudio X5, on the other hand, still looks new after 4 months of daily use. The metal body is covered with a tough coat of paint, almost like a powder-coating. It doesn't easily scratch, which is easy to appreciate when you've owned an iPod.

Known iAudio X5 Bugs

Charge state gets reset after turning device off, so it may try to charge more than necessary if used while plugged into the wall.

Fails to skip zero-byte files.

Not a bug (a feature?), but it must be plugged into the "subpack" mini-dock in order to charge, transfer to/from a computer, or record from line-in. I'd prefer to have the usb client port and AC port on the main device, instead of the usb host port (pulls images from cameras).

iPod Shuffle vs. ENOX EMX-900

FeatureiPod ShuffleENOX EMX-900
Storage Space 1G 1G
Price $109 (street) $109 (street)
Size a pack of gum a pack of gum
Standard Audio Formats MP3, Wav MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Wav
Proprietary Audio Formats AAC, Audible WMA, ASF
Display None 2-Color OLED, 4 lines
Lyric Display No Yes
ID3 Tag Support No Yes
Battery Life 12 hours 20 hours
Voice Recorder No Yes
FM Radio No Yes
Line-in Recorder No Yes
Works as a generic USB hard drive No Yes
Copy files to/from a computer No* Yes
USB 1.1/2.0 Yes Yes
USB connector built in Yes Yes
Compatible with Mac & PC must reformat* Yes
Variable Playback Speed No 8-step speed control
Equalizer No Yes
Auto-off (sleep timeout) No Yes
File browser / song selector No Yes
Physical interface Buttons and slide switch 5-way joystick and buttons
*Not verified; based on past iPod models, and believed to be the same on current models.

Disclaimer: I do not own an iPod. The information presented here is merely what I could find by looking at reviews, specs, and sales online.
Last modified: September 26, 2005 @ 11:25 MDT
Copyright (C) 1996-2017 Selene Scriven