Well, I finally broke down today. As most of the people who'd care to read this know, I've been trying to come up with a way to get around the space limitations of my laptop for MP3 storage. I've tried setting up a streaming service out of the apartment over the cable lines, I've worked on a design which would use a local cache on the laptop's hard drive to keep track of your favorites (which would then stream anything it didn't already have a copy of when requested) but none of the solutions really worked for me.
I was almost ready to buy a new hard drive for my work laptop (since the new Powerbook I've been eyeing is a bit out of my price range right now) but I was looking at around $200 bucks just for one which would have the size I wanted.
Now, most of you who know me know I hate having anything persistent on my laptop. I prefer to web-enable everything so that I can get to it no matter where I am (and so I'm not tied down by my laptop's battery life, etc) Loading everything locally wasn't that great, since knowing the frequency I've gone through hard drives on my work laptop (4 in 3.5 years) I don't like relying on that option, either. My laptop only has a USB 1.1 connector, no firewire, no USB 2.0, and no burner. Way too many limitations!
So, after a little bit of thought, checking my budget, thinking through the management aspects of the decision, I decided to pick myself up a new iPod. I went to Circuit City, even tho I had the budget I took advantage of their 12 month "No Interest, No Payments" plan and picked myself up a nice whopping 40 GB iPod. (As those playing the home game can certainly understand, I plan on paying it off before the interest is charged!) I also picked up a firewire card for my desktop machine (I decided that it would be my sync/management machine) and came home. 4 hours later (gotta let the battery charge) I had myself a iPod ready for loading. Inside of that time I worked on the metadata inside iTunes, fixing as many tags as I could.
The first song I played was "Lady Marmalade" from the movie soundtrack Moulin Rouge. Excellent start. It was everything I expected it to be:
* Nice, smooth, easy to use interface
* Excellent quality (considering the source, these are MP3s you know!)
* Exceeding easy to sync
So, I went to bed, let it sync. I'm not sure how long the initial sync took, I had about 9GB of music in around 2000 music files.
On Sunday morning, I get up, my entire music collection is on the iPod. I clean up the apartment wearing it, then take it with me and, using a cassette adapter, attempt to use it in the car. I decided shortly thereafter (the cassette adapter has WAY too much noise) I stopped by the Apple Store and picked up an "iTrip":http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/itrip . It worked right out of the box, the interface is just as refined as the iPod itself. You have a playlist which contains MP3s which somehow configure the iTrip through the sounds they generate, making it super easy to switch frequencies when you encounter interference. I ran it all the way down to see how much it cut off from a new iPod with an assumable 8 hour battery life and, true to their website's info, I got my 8 hours easily.
Took it down with me to the exercise room, too. Worked like a charm. The fact that the hard drive only spins up about once every 20 minutes (long as you're playing from a playlist which allows it to fill up its buffer) I have no concerns about being able to use it while I'm biking outside. Woo!
I've started ripping all of my CDs in my collection into iTunes, so I can sync them up to the iPod. Nothing like having any song you want handy all the time, in the car, at work, at home, anywhere!
Quite the great product. We'll see how things go over time, but right now I'm thinking the iPod ranks up there with my Tivo in *Gadgets You WILL Love*.