December 19, 2003

Just the facts please

Ok, iPod's and MP3 players... what's the story?

I've tried to get answers to a few basic questions, and have had no luck so far, so I'm coming to the smartest people I know - folks who read my blog.

Suppose I buy one of these beasties and spend a buck a song to fill it up with music. That's a significant chunk of change on top of the initial price.

Is there a way to back up the music? I mean, if someone steals the iPod or it gets destroyed somehow (flying monkeys), am I out the hardware and the songs I've already paid for?

How much music does it actually hold? Assuming a mythical 3 minute rock'n'roll song, about how big is it? How many of these would fit in a 64MB memory? See what I'm getting at? I mean, what good is one of these if it only stores 20 songs at a time, I might as well keep my DiscMan.

Any upgrades available and doable by the average user? Better headphones, more memory, etc?

Batteries. What do they use, how long do they last, yadda yadda yadda.

What else do I need to know? I know these are very vague questions, but that's the kind of information I need. Don't tell me it holds up to 300 songs, because I know it will only hold 1 song, but it will be very very long. Getting the straight word on this kind of stuff drives me crazy, like used-car salesmen and military recruiters, you're only going to hear the good stuff.

Posted by Ted at December 19, 2003 12:17 PM
Category: SciTech

I wish I could help you, Ted, but I don't even know any iPods (that's an amphibian, right?)

Posted by: Susie at December 19, 2003 12:31 PM

I'm not the right person to ask, but I've been contemplating an iPod.

The average three minute rock 'n roll song (for some reason, "Devil Went Down to Georgia" popped in my head. Heh.) is about 3 or 4 megs of memory (remixes can go up to 8 or 10 megs). Your basic, no frills iPod holds 5 gigs (sadly, I just can't do the math!). You can get 5, 10 or 20 gigs of memory, depending how much you want to spend at the outset. I'm not sure these things are upgradable as far as installing memory, though.

From what I understand, you can file-share between one MP3 player and one computer -- meaning, you can have the music on both, but you can't also share with another computer or a friend's iPod. It's to keep it all legal, but I've no bloody clue how.

This, my friend, is why I never talk tech with anyone! ;)

Posted by: Dawn at December 19, 2003 01:12 PM

Thanks Dawn! The math works out like this: 5GB = ~5000MB, so if every song was 10MB, then that would be *valleygirl* omygod! 500 songs! We've been talking about it at work (no experts, but we've all - well, most of us - have heard music), and probably the complexity or density of music makes for bigger files as well as the length of the piece. I'd guess that a minute of Beethoven's 5th would take more space than a minute of Louie Louie.

Sound right?

Posted by: Ted at December 19, 2003 02:51 PM

"Devil went down to Georgia" good one Dawn!

Posted by: jim at December 19, 2003 03:58 PM

i have an archos jukebox, hard-drive, 5 gb, i think, but it's at home. anyhow, i spent many hours ripping cds and loading songs on the dang thing and couldn't get it more than half full. i think it's somewhere around 700 songs, some of which are 20-minute samples of the Yes catalog, but most of which are in the usual 3-6 minute rock/blues/jazz range.

for backup, you'd prolly want one of those huge honking mega-gb drives, but you'd prolly want one of those for your computer system anyhow.

i just bought my boys (i'm pretty sure they aren't reading your blog, so this should be safe) solid-state mp3 players with 128mb memory. one one of them i loaded 70+ minutes of Klaatu (his favorite) and it's about half full.

hope this is somewhat helpful.


Posted by: chris hall at December 19, 2003 04:52 PM

I have a 20 gig Ipod. Currently it has 176 songs = 14.1 hours of music using only 953MB of storage.

the ipod syncs with itunes - a free downlaos from apple for mac or windows so you caqn have a back-up on your system. the battery lasts about 8-10 hours.

I tunes will also rip music from your cds to mps files so you fill up you ipod for less.

Posted by: StMack at December 19, 2003 06:17 PM

Thanks! This is the kind of information I've been looking for.

Posted by: Ted at December 19, 2003 07:37 PM

It's actually pretty simple.

The most common recording rate (for MP3 and AAC, which is what Apple use) is 128Kbits/second. That's 16Kbytes/second, or almost exactly 1Mbyte per minute.

Current iPods come in 10GB, 20GB and 40GB flavours, so they hold 10,000 minutes = over 160 hours = about a week, 2 weeks and 4 weeks of music respectively. Or about 2500, 5000 and 10,000 typical songs.

You can plug your iPod (the new ones, anyway, I'm not sure about the older models) into your PC or Mac and treat it like just another disk drive - copy files, back them up, whatever. You can put non-mp3 files on there too if you want.

You can use higher bit rates if you want, for better quality, or use a variable bit rate (which means the software adapts to the complexity of the music and uses only as much space as it requires). I have all my music ripped at 256K... At that level, I can't tell the difference between the mp3 and the original CD, even on the stuff I wrote myself.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 20, 2003 09:16 AM

I think there are 40 gig iPods now. I mean, they're just getting freakin' huge.

On WTOP they talked about iPods recently, and the two disadvantages were: Price, and batteries. The batteries are built in, so if it should ever need to be replaced (which it will, though it might be years) you gotta send it to a service center and let a Qualified Technician swap it out for you, at an exhorbitant price.

Having said that, I'd love to have one.

Posted by: Victor at December 20, 2003 10:03 AM

I just found this over at Jane's place (

Somebody must've been pretty pissed off at Apple when they made this video!

Posted by: Dawn at December 22, 2003 01:06 PM

u guys ar all idiots

Posted by: jack mehof at January 13, 2005 10:32 AM
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