Monday, June 16, 2008


Well, this is obviously going to cost me the recommendation of the Met . . .
My mp3 player, a 1GB Samsung Yepp, had been acting up a bit lately. After more than a year of very hard use, the metal inside where the headphones connect seems to have become slightly corroded in spots. It's still perfectly usable, but you have to be careful not to bounce it around to much or the sound isn't very good. My original thought was to see if a good cleaning would fix it, or if that failed see if they could replace the receptor.
A few words about my Yepp: I bought it to replace a Creative Zen, my very first mp3 player. I liked the Zen well enough, but it didn't rock my world and I shopped around before I decided on the Yepp. I feel motion-sickness easily, and I primarily used my mp3 player on my commute, so for obvious reasons I didn't have much interest in upgrading to a player with video. Watching anything on a 1" screen seemed like a recipe for ill. Originally I wanted another player that like the Zen would take AAA batteries. I travel a lot, and finding a place to connect and charge a specialized battery in whatever podunk town I am in didn't seem as attractive as being able to just buy a new battery. The Yepp had a rechargeable battery, but the clerk at the store said that one charge should keep me good for about 15 hours. I was skeptical, but in subsequent use I've actually gotten better than that. The USB connector you need to charge and connect is also built in, so there was no need to carry a cord with me. There was no need to download anything, either, so I could just plug that puppy in, drag the songs I wanted on, and go. Being about the size and weight of a small pack of gum, it was pretty easy, too. My little bright green friend (it's available in a range of colors, and you can also buy cute stickers and whatnot now to accessorize) cost me about 80,000 won, if memory serves me correctly.
So, a checklist:
easy to use
Yeah, the Yepp is basic, but it works and has kept me happy during many a long commute. I would recommend them strongly to anybody looking for an mp3 player that just plain works and won't give you a hassle.
But I'd used that puppy hard. While it still works, that one bit was getting annoying and I knew I'd have to replace it eventually . . .. Ah, and there was the Met and all my friends, whispering honeyed words in my ear about the iPod and all it's glories. "Ah, Gomushin Girl,' they said, "Join us, and together we will rule the galaxy! Buy an apple gadget, and you'll never go back. Discover the joy of iTunes, download all your favorite podcasts, and see the ease with which all your life will now fall into place." Undoubtedly they all went back and had a toast together, and speculated gleefully about how I'll be buying a Macbook Air next.
So I did it. It was a impulse buy, but I went ahead and got the basic Nano.
I hate the damn thing already.
Oh, I'll admit, it's a beautiful design. Isn't it pretty? But I'm going to slug the next Mac fan who tells me how Apple crap is easy to use. Intuitive, my ass.
First of all, it was NOT just stick the damn thing in place and watch my computer and iPod start doing a mystical dance of love. Remember my Yepp? That was was true ease. I stuck the USB in the port, opened my music file, and dragged stuff on. This time, I was running around downloading iTunes. The same iTunes that is taking hours and hours and hours to convert my files. At the rate things are going, I'll actually be able to listen to my music sometime in, say, the next millennium. My computer is a reasonably fast machine, so this is unreasonably pissing me off. There was a file from a friend with an iPod, so I went ahead and loaded that to take a listen. Almost the first thing I did was destroy my hearing. Apple has made the default adjustment vito volume. Scroll while a song is playing, and prepare for eardrum assault. As a nearly pathologically song skipper, what I really wanted to do was easily skip through part of a song. It took me the better part of five minutes to figure out how to do this, and even now it's a damn annoying process that involved clicking several times and then scrolling and then clicking. If you screw up at all, you'll end up fiddling with the volume again. Also, it isn't anywhere near as precise as the same process on either of my old players. A minor issue to some, but a major annoyance to me.
For all the talk about how good Apple design is, and how intuitive it all is supposed to be, I'm left feeling remarkably frustrated. I still have a hard time navigating through iTunes, and I'm down to slogging through the Korean instruction manual to figure out the nitty-gritty of how my machine works. Yes, my Nano has way more bells and whistles than my Yepp, but for sheer ease and practicality? Meh. It has video and whatnot, and it's very pretty, but it's also larger, has less battery life, and is overall less convenient. I'm torn on the price . . . I still agree that the price is really quite fair for what it is. There's 3 more gigabytes on the Nano than on my Yepp (there is a 2GB model, too) and it does more stuff . . .but . . .still, it was double the price.
Normally, fascination and the fun of playing with a new toy take over, and I end up singing the praises of the newer, better machine pretty quickly. But in this case, I'm pretty underwhelmed. My Yepp was a really good purchase that I would recommend still. I'll probably adjust and start using the Nano as my principal machine eventually, but somehow I don't think it's going to actually replace the Yepp in many aspects. I love my Yepp, and when push comes to shove I'll probably still try and get my current one fixed. If it can't be fixed, I may just buy another.
In the meantime, when I step out the door today, the Yepp will be what's in my bag.

P.S. Hey Met! You know what else? Next time I buy a camera, I'm gonna get a Nikon! SNAP!

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