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November 10, 2005



I can understand where you're coming from regarding the choice of songs on Rhapsody, although personally you'd have to pry my ipod from out of my cold dead fingers (itunes podcast handling, Audible integration and iPhoto syncing are some of the reasons why). But just to nitpick, the iPod nano also charges and syncs through USB2.0.

Brian Duck

We've got our third iPods already, so rather than buy a fourth...

I bought a PoGo! Radio Your Way LX from CCrane communications.

+ It records: Voice, AM/FM, Line in
+ The recordings can be triggered by timer
+ It has variable speed playback: .5x, .7x, 1.3x, 1.5x. This makes transcriptions much more tolerable.
+ It accepts removable media, SD cards
(I'd looked for recorders using Compact Flash, but they were quite a bit more expensive.)

chris anderson


I can see I was a bit unclear. Those were my reasons for buying the Zen Micro over other non-iPod MP3 players, not necessarily features it had and the Nano did not. (For me Rhapsody compatibility was the only decisive advantage it had over the Nano.)

But if you were to list other hardware advantages of the Zen Micro over the Nano, you might include FM radio, an integrated microphone and recorder function and a removeable/replaceable battery.

Rich Berger


I signed up for Rhapsody on your recommendation and I just finished the 14 day trial. Now I'm on the basic subscription, debating whether to sign up for Rhapsody to Go (I have a Dell DJ 30GB player). The ability to browse through the library and listen to entire albums makes Rhapsody far more valuable than a music store. I've already rediscovered a number of albums that were mainstays of my college years (late 60's) and that I still think are great, despite lowered hormone levels. I started listening to new bands in the Alt-Country format, where I've found a few I really like. Maybe I'll branch out to listening to bands my kids like - I wonder about their tastes.

Jeff A. Taylor

I've yet to find a real music lover who doesn't go ape over Rhapsody's model -- I love RENTING music, I OWN 300 CDs I never listen to anymore. The playlists, the radio stations, it all works for me, and helps me find NEW MUSIC.

Now it certainly sounds like the Zen provides portable option, one I don't need right now, but might someday.


I'm not being an Apple fanboi here, but I have to ask why you think the AAC DRM is more restrictive than WMA? I've heard people criticize it before, but never to the extent that they'd say they prefer WMA... It's the only-plays-on-iPod aspect, yes?


Chris: Knowing how much you love your Treo, I'm surprised you opted to buy yet another portable device! I'm a big Rhapsody fan for all the reasons you cited in your post...but I simply bought PocketTunes for the Treo and use 1GB SD cards to store all my Rhapsody To Go music for use in the car, on the plane, on my bike, etc. I bought the Treo as a "convergence" device and I expect it to do just about everything, including playing my music. Have I gone too far?


chris anderson


You're a better man than I. I couldn't get Rhapsody To Go tracks (ie, music I didn't own) to transfer Pocket Tunes on my Treo. I did load the 1GB card with music from my own library with no problem, however, so I do use the Treo when I don't happen to have my Zen Micro with me. But all the new, fresh stuff I've discovered (for free!) of late on Rhapsody is on the Micro.

Is there actually a way to use Rhapsody To Go with the Pocket Tunes and I'm doing something wrong? Or are you just transferring music you already own?


Chris, I've had several other friends experience a similar problem. I suspect that it may be a combination of Rhapsody's less-than-transparent license structure and, perhaps, user error.

Here's what I do: I put my Treo in its cradle, fire up Rhapsody on my laptop, and then start PocketTunes. The Transfer tab in the Rhapsody window automatically activates and anything I drag to the tab transfers to the Treo for playback anywhere.

I seem to recall that I did have to download some drivers from Rhapsody that installed themselves...but it was never clear if that was really necessary. I have to say that Rhapsody's big downside is its lack of good customer support and clunky interface. I'm still trying to figure out why some of my songs suddenly become unplayable after months of having them in my library.

I loved your comment about feeling cool again with Rhapsody. I know what you mean. I have discovered a ton of music lately in a way that reminds me of my days when I had the time to listen to college radio and hang out listening to DJs. Perhaps Rhapsody will spare me from my 20-centric nostalgia and open up new horizons of being middle aged? ;-)

Jim Rockford

I think there is a huge opportunity for a player that is cheaper than the Ipod, and has a larger support for various codecs, particularly FLAC.

I'm still looking for a FLAC codec compliant player, lossless compression and playback JUST like the CD or source appeals to me.

There is a LOT of good things you can do with FLAC; and yes replaceable batteries are a huge plus.

matt graves

Hey Chris --

Glad you're still enjoying Rhapsody, but sorry Rhapsody To Go and the Treo hasn't worked out for you (yet).

Using Rhapsody To Go on the Treo requires the new PocketTunes Deluxe v3.1 program, which was released earlier this year by NormSoft. This new version adds support for Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) -- i.e Janus. This is the technology underlying Rhapsody To Go as well as similar portable services from Napster and Yahoo. The new PocketTunes Deluxe software is $34.95, but in my mind well worth it to get Rhapsody on your Treo.

Hope this is helpful~

Rhapsody PR guy

Paul Mison

Of course, that's all great if you're American.

Being international: now that's a long tail.


I think you're being a little hard on Apple here and hyping up Rhapsody a bit more than it deserves. Hey, if you're stupid enough to think *renting* music is a good idea, then I can understand that maybe iTunes isn't for you. I honestly don't get it, but hey, whatever. Clearly, however, you are off base with your comments concerning iTunes' DRM - now I despise all DRM as all self-respecting consumers should, as it only makes life hell for the law-abiding (google "sony rootkit drm" for an example) - but Apple's DRM is among the most liberal, if not THE most liberal DRM implemented by online music stores. In fact, if you also consider Sony's Rootkit DRM on physical music CDs, iTunes provides even more flexibility than some actual music CDs out in the market today. Plus with iTunes you actually *own* the music. If you decide you want to start buying your music somewhere else, or if you just don't want to keep paying your "music rental fee" every month, or if the company goes out of business, with iTunes you still have all the songs and artist you love. And what's the outrageous price for all this? 99ยข. Reasonable in my books.


First, let me get a disclaimer out of the way: I've done some consulting for Virgin Digital, a service that competes with Rhapsody.

Okay, with that said...

I think Rhapsody is a super service! I don't currently pay for it, but have in the past, and I still maintain a free 'basic' membership. Now I have full memberships with Y! Music Unlimited and Virgin Digital. And I love 'em!!!

Brad, you can poo-poo on the "stupid" concept of renting music, but for me (and lots and lots of other open-minded folks), it's exciting and liberating. I've discovered so many fabulous groups and even gotten into new genres of music I hadn't been able to afford to 'purchase' in the past.

And re: owning and purchasing... I have to laugh at your false implication that you OWN the music you buy on iTunes. HA! You merely have a broader license to use it, burn a few copies, etc, you DO NOT OWN IT. Honest. Try giving away one of your 'owned' iTunes tracks to a friend. Or selling it on eBay. Gee, can't do it?

That's because you merely have been granted a limited LICENSE to listen to that tune.

On the other hand, look at fab services like Magnatune (www.magnatune.com). There you can purchase *NON-DRM'D* music and even try before you buy!


"Hey, if you're stupid enough to think *renting* music is a good idea, then I can understand that maybe iTunes isn't for you"

You do realize that he rented 2000 songs right? Next month he might rent 2000 more. Perhaps you can afford 24K a year on music purchases from iTunes. I know I can't. So $8.95/month versus $2000. Unless my math is wrong he isn't looking stupid at all for renting. After all he can still buy the songs he really really wants.

The nano is sweet but I will probably buy something else as well.


Oh, and I forgot one other tidbit:
Even those who DON'T like renting their music can still use non-Apple music services to purchase songs for 99 cents each, JUST like on iTunes.

And -- get this -- the songs'll work on more than a dozen portable music players, not just one. ;)


It may just be a generational thing - like renting music from your younger years. These big companies are simply milking the last big dollars out of the major label acts. The young people are already looking at smaller and newer companies that will sell you the music - music that's never sold millions of copies each, never been on the radio and never will (be on the radio, that is.) I stopped using broadcast radio for music years ago and started listening on the internet and hearing new stuff everyday. I don't want to rent a copy of "Stairway to Heaven," no matter how good it may have been "in the day," because there's too much really new, good stuff out there - I don't need a big brand name band attached to a song to decide what I like. This is a really good development - and Thanks Chris, for initiating this discussion.


1. I can see the advantage of renting music, and I understand not really "owning" itune tunes, but I'd say you're in the minority in your love of renting. Most people will never examine the details. They give up the 99 cents, they feel they own it. They'll transfer it to their ipod, transfer it to their new mac, back it up, etc.

2. Throw out the fm tuner, voice mail, free laundry service, for most people it doesn't matter. I listen to my iPod BECAUSE I hate radio.

3. All your points are valid. Hell, it makes me think over my choice of the ipod. I then look at the zen micro and can't imagine paying for such an ugly piece of plastic. Again, I'm sure some like it, most wouild take the ipod form.

Bottom line, there's reasons apple owns the portable mp3 market, and since this includes windows, it goes beyond blind mac faith. In the end, very few people are going to give a damn about cost per capacity. They want ipods, and none of the reasons you gave would make any difference.


Cost per GB? Give me a break, we are not buying hard drives!

Who cares about the FM, voice recorder, you want an MP3 to listen to your own music!

There is one thing in this world call style, I am sorry, Zen is just plain ugly! Now you know why people pay more to buy designer cloth.


Through my school I have a 2 dollar a month subscription to rhapsody which is too cheap to pass up, but I still buy most of my music on CD. In fact, I buy most of my music used on www.half.com. Why? Simple--a lot of what I listen to is simply not available on Rhapsody. Maybe that's not typical, but it is what the long tail is about, right. Secondly, I like to OWN music. I've never bought a song from iTunes and I don't plan to start any time soon.

And for the record I have a 20GB 4th gen iPod.

Robert Gremllion

Is there something like Rhapsody for Audiobooks? If so, I'd get rid of my ipod yesterday. I think the first company that offers unlimited audio books (or something like Netflix) will do extremely well.


What will you do with that ugly thing when Rhapsody and/or Creative goes the way of Rio and BenQ? Too bad you can't use it with iTMS. :-)

Elizabeth C

I have been investigating MP3 players and subscription services for my 14 year old daugter. She wants an IPod because of the status symbol aspect of it. I have been reading reviews and talking to my techno geek relatives for the last few days. This is the first site that I wanted to make a comment on. I am leaning toward a Zen Micro and Rhapsody. Aside from the primary music features, I like the recorder (for class lectures) and rechargeable battery and organizational abilities. After reading the posts on this site I know that I will absolutely NOT get her an IPod when I read what I assume to be grown men and women (mostly men) talk about how "pretty" their IPods are and heaven forbid they buy an "ugly" Zen regardless of its superior features. Oh my goodness! Grow up, get a grip! And we complain about the generation of superficial, image conscious teens that we are raising? My gag reflex is kicking in. Let us hope that you get judged by the content of your character not by the brand of your MP3 player. Bye "boys".


I have ordered a couple of PEZ mp3 players. I'm afraid I really don't understand the willingness of people to complicate their lives with absurdly over-engineered "solutions" to problems that didn't previously exist!

The real problem: my music doesn't fit in my pocket. I have hundreds of CDs that I bought directly from artists during or immediately after performances. Every time in the last twenty years I've seen an act I enjoyed, I've tried to purchase a tape or CD from the artist on the spot.

The PEZ mp3 player (http://www.pezmp3.com) doesn't saddle me with a contractual relationship to Apple or any other zaibatsu. I can already mouse-drag music off my CDs onto my Xwindows desktop, or rip music to mp3 from the linux command line; now I'll be able to put that music on a device that fits in my pocket.

Things should be as complex as necessary, and NOT more so. I can't help but think that my model of musical enjoyment, which starts with live interaction with other humans (typically in outdoor settings) and progresses through direct support of artists and then to enjoyment of repeat listening while doing other things, is fundamentally more healthy than the model represented by iTunes and its ilk.


Well I've one-upped you by getting the new color screen Zen Micro Photo, and subscription service is one of the reasons I got it instead of iPod. Though I was crushed to find that Audible.com does not support the Micro-Photo (but it does the Zen Micro, so I may have been better off getting the cheaper Micro.)

One annoyance is the touch-pad controls. I often inadvertantly SELECT when I're trying to scroll, etc.

Honestly though I think I'm going to have to play on both sides of the fence and get an iPod also, owing to its plethora of accessories.


Why not a Creative Zen Sleek? They look so much better than a Zen Micro...

Will Dupuis

It's amazing, I came to the same conclusions and made the exact same decisions as you have, without seeing your post first. I've owned my Zen Micro 6 Gig for a little over a week and am loving the Rhapsody to Go. That is the main reason I went with the Zen as well. I also like the fact that it has a FM tuner built in. I do have to say that I was slightly biased because I previously owned a Creative Muvo Slim, and had outgrown it.


I have a Create Zin Micro, and today when I was sun bathing, it just quit playing. It was stuck on the song, but no sound. It's happened before, and I just simply took out the battery, and put it back it. Only this time, it didn't work. So I figured it was too warm, so waited and took it inside to cool off. It's been about 45 minutes, and it still isn't working.

What's the problem, and how do I fix it?

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!