Microsoft has a page about buying Flash-memory-based MP3 players. One could be forgiven for thinking they’d written it specifically to discourage people buying iPods. First it says Flash-based is better. Then it says you should make sure you have voice-recorder and FM (so not iPod). And you should have a display (there goes iPod Shuffle) and of course concludes that you should look for WMA support. No surprises there.
Yeah right, Microsoft. There is some backlash against the iPod, some saying it is merely another case of ‘design over function’ from Apple, forgetting that good design is about, and aids, function. WMA support? Maybe, but why bother when there is (IMO) superior AAC format.
As to the points:
1. Apple (at least) uses technology to read-ahead, meaning that music should rarely if ever skip if the machine moves.
2. Extra features are all well and good, but I didn’t want an FM tuner (trying to listen on the train with all those mobile phones around is painful) or a stopwatch (I have a watch for that). I did just want a device for playing music. I go for what I believe to be the best-of-class rather than jack-of-all-trades.
3. Granted, the shuffle doesn’t have a display, but it doesn’t carry hundreds of tracks. It is designed for a specific purpose.
4. Well configured playlists also let you put your MP3 player on autopilot. I want to listen to my music, not some hapless DJ and unknown tracks.
5. I haven’t investigated the comparitive file sizes vs quality, but I can’t believe WMA offers the best.
6. Probably a dig at the iTunes store – yet this doesn’t mean that you can’t get music elsewhere.
I am just pleased Microsoft don’t make an MP3 player – we’d end up running updates all the time and never actually listening to our music.
I think the playlists point was taking a swipe at the iPod Shuffle.
Agree with all your other points, though WMA support is an obvious plus when buying music. MS have spent the money to make WMA DRM very easy, which means a lot of online music stores are using it. In fact in Australia it’s quite difficult to buy music online in any other format. Well, except CD!
From what I’ve seen/heard, WMA also does have enviable size/quality. Evidently this is one area that MS saw a threat, poured in resources and got a pretty good result.
Hmm OK – I must try to be more impartial when it comes to Microsoft. Must try, must try…