The iPod; why I'm not buying another (except perhaps the nano)

I’m one of the many people who has an iPod: in my case a 40GB iPod Photo.

While it’s done me well since I bought it March 2005, there’s been one major problem; unreliability. The original one lasted 6 months before the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) failed and it had to be replaced.

I’m now on my 5th iPod. As it was covered by Apple’s warranty until March it so far none of the replacements have cost me anything. But I don’t think this one will last much longer for the same reason (in fact, all 5 have suffered HDD failures of some kind). And it would cost me at least £140 to have it replaced (repaired in Apple lingo).

I won’t go into the specifics of those problems as they’re far too boring but I’m now in the position of not having a working mp3 player.

So what to do? I could replace it, but I’m not happy with the reliability; my problems aren’t unique and failure rates of iPods (specifically the full-sized ones) are as high as 20% according to some sources.

And what are the options? PMP’s (Portable Media Players) are overkill unless you have a huge amount of video; which I don’t. And Flash mp3 players are more reliable but don’t provide the capacity I really need as I record lots of radio shows and listen afterwards, which require a huge amount of storage space.

It seems that my options are:

1) Replace it with another iPod; I haven’t ruled it out as the current versions (both video & nano) have gapless playback, which is fantastic for my live and radio recordings. But there’s no built-in FM radio, something which is a necessity for me; and the radio remote costs £40 which is far too much money.

2) Buy a different brand mp3 player; my preferred option but there are disadvantages. iTunes is a fantastic piece of software and it works very well with the iPod. There is also no other mp3 player on the market that has gapless playback. However, as a Windows user I’m happy to consider alternatives, especially the Creative Zen Vision: M which I consider to be the best available alternative to the iPod.

3) Revert to my faithful Minidisc Player. I’ve had one for 2 1/2 years and it still works. I have only really used it for event or interview recordings, as the 1GB storage per disc is not enough for me, along with very slow transfer speeds. However the downside is the software, Sonicstage. It’s better than it was but it’s no iTunes and is unless you are technically minded it’s one to avoid. Even so the latest model is very tempting, especially as it would allow me to convert my really old Minidiscs to mp3s without technical wizardry (something I’m pretty good at but it still wouldn’t be as good), the only problem being the cost which is around £200 depending on the supplier.

The question is whether I can really trust ANY HDD mp3 player. I have my doubts… but the alternatives won’t provide enough storage for my needs. When I’ve decided, I’ll let you know.

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