Posted 03 May 2004 - 05:45 PM
Mike:1 : There is always an alternative when you talk about digital music players... There are flash based, hard drive based, and CD based; all offering different storage capacities and their own unique features.If you want to use iTunes to manage your music you can do so without an iPod; but it will not be the easiest way especially if you are using other brands of hardware.If you want to use iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, you need an iPod. You can buy music at the iTMS and play it on 5 authorized machines, and transfer it to your iPod as many times as you like. So if you plan on buying music from the iTMS, and plan on taking the music with you, you need an iPod... that is unless you want to burn CD's of your purchased music (which you CAN do, following the limitations of the purchased music).Don't be confused by the "1000 Songs." That can be misleading, especially if you encode your music at lower or higher bit rates. Obviously lower bit rates will get you more songs, and higher, less. I personally started my music collection over again when I got my iPod. I encoded all of my music under Apple's AAC encoder at 128 bit, and can honestly say, that I can't tell a difference between the CD and the AAC file.2 : Yes. iTunes allows you to either sync your iPod song for song, or manually control what playlists and songs you want to upload/remove from your iPod. Please note that, if you upload a song to your iPod, and delete it from your computer... and resync your iPod... you will loose the song: UNLESS you use 3rd party software that allows you to move songs off the iPod.3 : Yes there is 3rd party software that you can use as mentioned in response to # 2. And there is 3rd party hardware in the sense of accessories: FM transmitters, chargers, speakers, voice recorders, cases, etc. etc.4 : Individual songs cost 99¢, under most circumstances full albums cost $9.99. So, many times albums cost much less that their CD counterpart.I said under most circumstances. There are some albums that cost more than $9.99... there are some reasons for this... sometimes the author requires it, or it may be an album that has the equivalent of 2 CDs... and some other reasons are not known.If you have read some of the articles saying that some retail CDs are cheeper than those found on iTMS, that may be the case at certain times, but not always.For example I purchased a new release album for $9.99 when it cost $14.95 retail (advertised price)... I had my album for a full week before retail stores dropped the CD price to $9.99. So I got my album cheeper, faster, didn't have to pay sales tax, and did this all without having to drive to the store or fight crowds.When it comes to compressing your own music you have a few choices: AIFF, AAC, AAC Lossless, MP3... and of course you can select from a number of various bit rates. And you can even convert existing MP3's to AAC files, or AAC files (non encrypted) to MP3, etc. This is handy if you have a collection of AAC files and want to burn an MP3 CD.Sorry for rambling.