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My dream MP3 player


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My dream MP3 player
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Dorian Gray
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Paris, France
 
2008-12-08, 14:21

I'm looking for a portable Digital Audio Player (DAP) to replace my long-serving iPod shuffle. It still looks great and sounds as good as ever, but in the last couple of months the battery life has fallen off a cliff (I'm amazed it lasted almost four years). I'd also like a lot more capacity than 512 MB. I hate throwing it out*, but I can't upgrade the storage and I can't replace the battery. It's a perfectly good bit of electronics that will soon be useless.

I loved my iPod shuffle and I love iPods in general. But they're disposable and I hate that about them.

What I'd really like in my next DAP is, in no particular order:
  • Superb build quality and materials (metal, glass, etc.). The current iPod nano is actually amazingly well made (on the outside at least; the inside is probably very cheaply made). Would aim for a useful life of ten years in daily use.
  • First-class audio quality. Some iPods have this, although perhaps none are the absolute best in class. Ability to pump out high voltages (for high-impedance headphones) and high currents (for low-impedance headphones).
  • USB mass storage device class support. Not because I like it (iTunes is far better), but because this makes it future-proof. I'd even put up with real-time recording via digital optical-in, but I know few would tolerate that (and this would only really work with lossless codecs due to limited onboard processing power).
  • Powered by AA or AAA cells (one might be enough) to make it future-proof, at the expense of weight, volume and perhaps battery life.
  • Analogue line-out, perhaps via the 3.5-mm headphone port like the old Sony MiniDisc recorders/players.
  • Digital optical-out. Useful for connecting to hi-fi gear at home. Optical-out could be via the headphone port, as in current Macs.
  • Relies entirely on Secure Digital or CompactFlash memory cards for storage. These are fairly small (especially SD), cheap, ubiquitous, and available in any variety of size, quality, and speed. CompactFlash cards are hitting 100 GB already, and with time capacity will only grow and prices come down. You could bring two and swap them out if you need even more capacity.
  • Support for AIFF/WAV (future-proof), FLAC (open-source), AAC (probably the best lossy codec), and MP3 (ubiquitous) codecs.
  • Small LED-backlit LCD or OLED screen. My dream DAP would have no video support or anything equally silly, so would have no need for a large, vulnerable, power-sucking display.
  • Under $500. I don't see why the above couldn't be done for $200, but if it must be $500 so be it.

Why does nothing even remotely close to this exist? Obviously an iPod-like DAP will always be much more popular than the above, but surely there's a substantial market for something like this too?

* Or more accurately, recycling it or abandoning it in a drawer.

… engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams.
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Maciej
M AH - ch ain saw
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-12-08, 14:52

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray View Post
Why does nothing even remotely close to this exist? Obviously an iPod-like DAP will always be much more popular than the above, but surely there's a substantial market for something like this too?
I dunno, probably because no one expects anything to last as long anymore so the companies aren't under any pressure to make such a product. I might be in the minority about this, but I the child and geek in me likes buying new things, so I'm not particularly adamant that the thing has got to last 10 years; it's fun to buy new gadgets.

I'm with you on all your other points except the AA/AAA battery. I hate replacing AA/AAA batteries, and this would need to be done on a weekly basis almost. AA/AAA are pretty expensive, too. I'd rather have to buy a whole new product 2-3 years down the line than swap out AA/AAA every week. It's just too much of a hassle.

The voltage and amperage issues you brought up are probably the biggest downfall of the portable DAP, in the audiophile's eyes. I know they are for me. However, I think the explanation is battery life, if they gave you what you wanted you'd be swapping those AA/AAA even more often. That's what a portable amp is for, it's a balancing act between portability and your desire for high audio quality; I don't think there's any way around it until the next generation of battery technology becomes fully feasible (portable and cheap to produce).

I yearn for an optical audio out as well, but right now we've got to settle for line out through the iPod's connector port.

User formally known as Sh0eWax
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joveblue
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Melbourne
 
2008-12-08, 15:38

Do Apple offer a recycling program for iPods? I've never looked into it. I think I probably have my old iPod shoved in the back of a drawer somewhere that I could recylce.

Personally I don't mind replacing my iPod every few years if I have to, since you get the latest and greatest features and form-factor each time, and it's cheaper each time too*.

Shuffles are getting ridiculously cheap now too. If you did want another Shuffle, I reckon you'd save a fair bit of money by replacing them each time the battery ran out compared with buying new AA/AAA batteries constantly (or even buying rechargables). And they come in 2GB now

As for the audiophile stuff, well I'm no expert but as far as I'm aware there's nothing available that's any better than the iPod in this regard. It's not that bad if you have the right pair of headphones though, surely?


*I only have to pay wholesale price too so that helps
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Maciej
M AH - ch ain saw
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-12-08, 16:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by joveblue View Post
As for the audiophile stuff, well I'm no expert but as far as I'm aware there's nothing available that's any better than the iPod in this regard. It's not that bad if you have the right pair of headphones though, surely?
Some of the older Creative players offered better amperage, IIRC.
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