So, almost since their inception I have been fascinated with digital music. It began in early to late 1998 as a frosh at The Pennsylvania State University. The MP3 file format had been release launching the ability to put your CD music on your computer in a compact file size. I was the first to hook up my stereo's aux in to my PC. Coupled with Winamp MP3 music player and a homemade jukebox was born.
It was later in that time frame that a small company called RIO release the first, commercial, MP3 player. Basic in features and memory it was a mild success; the focus of geeks. There were problems, the computer power and space needed to rip cd's to MP3's was high end. The CD burner was new, expensive and a slow 2x. No buffer under-run and a crappy windows 98 OS you needed to kill everything but easy cd creator.
So why the nostalgia? Well, it is time to fast forward to today. The landscape has changed. We are transitioning from peer-to-peer file sharing of music which bypassed buying music from artists and essentially created an illegal stealing service to now several pay for download music services. The debate and cause for the illegal P2P music swaping is old, we will omit that here. Music for sale online, competition among services and the illegal P2P services has reduced the overpriced (argueably) cost of CD's.
Today I make a case against iPod as a music player and iTunes as a service. First, if you are rich, money is not a real concern get an iPod and use iTunes. However if you have any any shred of value for your heard earned money, there are much better choices in terms of digital audio players and music services. I recommend players from Dell, Creative, and iRiver. I also love Wal-mart and online stores such as newegg.com, buy.com and pcmall.com for low prices of these products. For 5GB and lower sized digital music players, i suggest Napster To Go. Check out a good article here.