Tuesday, May 12, 2009

iTunes wins

a post from the tech-review department.

First of all, anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big Apple/Mac guy.  My general opinion is they're overpriced, use "security by obscurity", and can't do anything more than a Windows machine.  (although I'll concede they look & feel awesome, and I like their commercials.)  I'm only saying this so you know I'm not biased; in fact, I'm probably biased against itunes.

The Challenge

I wanted the music I've accumulated over the last decade or two organized into a single folder of mp3 files, giving me ultimate portability and changeability from one device to the next.  I also wanted to be able to burn mp3-cd's to play in my car.

I have a medium-sized collection of songs & audio books, mixed and matched in all different formats and downloaded/ripped/burned using all different types of applications - itunes, windows media player, nero, and yes, even the old napster..

The Methods

First I tried to use a music-file-converter application to convert the wma and aac files into mp3 format.  I downloaded an application from the internet and tried their free sample version before buying it, but it didn't work, and I gave up.

Instead, each song not already in mp3 format would have to be burned to an audio cd, and then re-imported (ripped) back into the computer as an mp3 file.  Obviously the process would not be quick & painless.

The Results

Windows Media Player.  WMA could not do anything with songs originally downloaded from itunes, so it was at a disadvantage.  I burned a couple CDs from itunes' songs to see how WMA would handle them.  Overall, WMA struggled with keeping the artist/album/title information accurate.

Zune.  Zune also could not open the itunes' proprietary format, so I was forced to use itunes to burn these songs to audio cd.  I then used Zune to import them as mp3's.  At first I declared Zune an apple-beater, as everything was working perfectly.  After adding a couple hundred mp3 files to my Zune library, I decided to make an mp3-cd to play in my car's mp3 player.  Unfortunately, almost half the songs came through with unreadable artist/album/title info.  Too bad.

Itunes.  This software was able to burn, rip, organize, label, make mp3-cd's - everything.  My music has never been more under control, and as much as I hate to say it, I'll probably buy another ipod as my next mp3 player.

The process was long and frustrating, but the final outcome wasn't even close.  Itunes out-performed Windows Media Player and Microsoft's Zune in my real-world challenge.

Your joining 'em since he can't beat 'em Realtor,

Chris Butterworth


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