Re: Re: Zune or iPod Touch?

by on Aug.07, 2009, under thoughts

Brian (@jotkeybrian) has responded to my post, and I have a couple comments after reading his response… This seems like a good place to do it!

Actually, Microsoft has been pretty cool lately with formats.  Take a look at the Xbox 360, before you could only play wmv, wma, mp3, and wav.  Now you can play xvid, divx, wmv, mp4 (h.264/mpeg), mp3, and mp4/m4a (unprotected aac).

That’s very interesting, actually!  I don’t own a 360 personally, so this is the kind of thing I’m not personally aware of.  I made some assumptions for the sake of my argument.  That’s good to hear, and you’re right, it sounds like Microsoft’s being pretty good about this.  I’ll talk more about Microsoft codecs vs. Apple codecs later.

You also have to realize no-one-uses FLAC from Microsoft’s perspective.

And why is this?  Because nothing supports it!  Why would I use FLAC instead of WMA lossless if nothing I want to play my media files on supports FLAC?

Now Apple on the other hand… They are fucking bastards, they don’t support SHIT. No divx, no xvid – the only formats/codecs they really support are AAC and mp3 for audio and H.264 for video.

You’re absolutely right.  After going over my post again, and thinking about it more, Microsoft is much better with codecs and library organization for letting you keep your music.  Media players that support Microsoft’s “Plays for Sure” often support quite a few codecs.  (Note: I don’t have Windows running currently, so I can’t double-check this!)  When you import music into Media Player, it can move it to the My Music folder, and keep it organized, or leave it where it is.  Apple on the other hand… supports very few codecs on its media players.  When you import music into iTunes, it can move it to My Music/iTunes Library/iTunes Music, and keep it organized there (a strange path for people who want their music files), or leave it where it is.

The iPod is even WORSE about organizing music.  It places music in a hidden folder, then under some other randomly-named folders, then has your music files randomly-named.  Forget about finding a song if you plug your iPod into your computer and browse through the harddrive!  Most “Plays for Sure” media players have a Music folder in plain sight on the root of the device, then have your music organized.  (Note again: I don’t own a Zune.  Can someone give some insight onto how it organizes music on the harddrive?)

Ehh… Most people download mp3’s and both Microsoft and Apple support mp3 playback so there is really no converting going on.

Most people?  I take this as you assuming that most people are pirates who download music illegally.  I disagree with that.  I would say most people either download music online through whatever store their media player supports, or buy CDs.  In the buying CDs case, most people just rip it using whatever the default settings are in the media player their PMP supports.  The online store… that gets a bit more sticky.  It’s hard to say there’s a “most people” for that crowd.  I can think of three big ones: iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Zune.  iTunes doesn’t have DRM anymore, Amazon never had DRM, and Zune has DRM.  More on this later, though…

Why would you want to play FLAC files on a mobile device?!

Because then you can have your entire music library in one format, and you never need to convert it to another format, ever.  You pointed out an issue of file size, and you’re right, FLAC files are big.  Here’s where we see an interesting trend…  The storage in PMPs went up and up and up (the biggest HDD iPod was… 160 GB?), and then crashed down with the advent of flash memory.  Now, we’re seeing the trend repeat…  large amounts of flash memory are getting cheaper all the time… It’s only a matter of time before we see a 128 GB flash memory PMP.  When this happens, keeping music lossless will be slightly viable again.

Umm… I don’t know if you’re out of the loop or what, but Apple does NOT own AAC.

Arrggh… You’re absolutely right on this one.  My bad, I’m slightly embarassed actually…  Regardless, Apple is the only company that’s really pushing AAC.

Ahh… They aren’t getting away with anything.  And DRM for Microsoft’s music store MAKES SENSE because they have a subscription based model called “Zune Pass” – which is unlimited music for a price.

I realise that the Zune Pass would never work without DRM.  Regardless, when you buy music online, you’re not buying the same quality you get with a CD, and your being forced into using whatever format the company you buy the music from says you should use.

Since when do us users and rippers give a shit about legality?  For simplicity, mp3 = free; since it’s the most widely used and very easy to convert to with LAME.

Once again, I’m not talking to you, then.  You’re talking about people who are getting their music illegally.  In which case, you’re right, they won’t care about the legality of LAME.  I would say that the average Joe doesn’t even know what LAME is, or have any idea that MP3 is actually a copyrighted format.  To them, it is ubiquitous.  I know, I know, my argument’s getting confusing here, and I’m slipping over my own words a little bit, too.  The point is, those of us who DO understand that OGG is free for anyone, and MP3 really isn’t need to stand up for this.

Yes, OGG is better but I’ll say it one more time… Ready? NO ONE USES OGG.

Once again, that’s because nothing supports it.  It’s not mainstream.  Why?  Your guess is as good as mine… I guess MP3 came out first, so it kind of got a head start.  But, then… since OGG is free to implement, why don’t media players support it? Because no one makes any money if that happens.

Overall, I think you missed the point of the article by nitpicking the details a bit too much.  The point is that we’re stuck with proprietary formats that some company or other, whether we like it or not, owns.

On a final note, I generally write my posts as stream-of-concious and don’t go back to look things over, or completely look into details.  I think your response proves that I probably should start doing this, because I overlook things sometimes…  Maybe I will…  But not starting with this post 😛

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Brian Osborn

    Oh cool, you responded :]

    Umm… I guess I could add that Amazon’s digital downloads are in LAME mp3 which is interesting…

    As far as the most popular method for getting music – There have been plenty of surveys online posted that prove that more people pirate than buy music legally. Again, think about the people you know – most people still use limewire for crying out loud. Like there is tons of data on this, just search around the internet, more people definitely get music without paying for it – either p2p/torrents, private trackers, http/google indexing, usenet, borrowing cd’s from friends, etc – and even a lot of online stores have mp3’s as their primary format so yeah.

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