Holy afterburners, Batman!

by Michael Alderete on 9/5/2007 · 11 comments

Today Apple announced a whole series of changes to its lineup of iPods, including improvements and a price reduction for the iPod I recommend for audiobooks, the 4 GB iPod nano.

But the most interesting news, to me, was about the iPhone, at the end of the event. From Steve’s lips to our ears (via Macworld):

“We’re on track to ship our millionth iPhone by the end of this month, and so to get ready for the holiday season, here’s what we’re going to do: The vast majority of customers want the 8GB iPhone. So today, we’re going to focus on just the 8GB model. [And] the 8GB isn’t going to sell for $599, it’s going to sell starting today for $399. We want to put iPhones in a lot of stockings this holiday season.”

So (a) the iPhone is selling incredibly well, getting to a million units in under three months. And (b) if they were selling well before, how well are they going to sell at $200 less? I predict 4-5 million iPhones sold by the end of the holiday season.

Donna Ford September 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

The $149 for Nano 4GB with a two inch screen looks great. If they would do something about the slowness of iTunes ripping, I’d go for the 8 GB in a flash. Just can’t afford that many Audible books—-LOL

Bernard Doddema September 5, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Well now it’s just that more difficult when I do get to buy an iPod with all the new choices available. I mean I wanted to get one that played video….there used to be only one choice for that…..now there’s 3.

What’s a guy to do?!

Alderete September 15, 2007 at 11:03 am

@Bernard: I am going to be updating my “Which iPod Should I Buy?”:/audiobooks/ipod-recommendations/ article very soon, but in the meantime, here’s my thoughts:

  • If you’re cost-conscious, or only care about audiobooks, my original recommendation, the 4 gig iPod nano, has become an even better deal. Even though I have had eight (!) iPods already, including four nanos, I will probably get one of these. It looks like a nearly perfect device.
  • For $50 more, the 8 gig nano doubles your capacity, which can be nice, especially if you’re also interested in podcasts or music. But if you’re willing to closely manage your iPod’s content, it’s not a huge deal.
  • I personally don’t find the iPod Touch compelling, but that could be because I already have an iPhone, which does more. The only reason to get an iPod Touch is if you simply cannot afford to have a mobile phone (a $75/month ongoing cost). I’m sure they’re out there, but I don’t know a lot of people who can afford an iPod Touch who can’t afford an iPhone + service plan.
  • The iPod Classic is for people who have to take their entire collection everywhere. Personally, I think that’s silly, but I know I’m the weird one here.

Alderete September 15, 2007 at 11:09 am

@Donna: I’m really puzzled by your assertion that iTunes is really slow at importing CDs. That has not been my experience. I can usually import a new CD at 7-10x normal time, i.e., under 10 minutes for a full length disc. This is comparable with all other importing tools of which I am aware. Are you saying you have a tool that is faster than that? By how much?

In iTunes, do you have the Preferences > Advanced > Importing > Use error correction when reading Audio CDs turned on (checked)? That would certainly explain the slowness of importing — as the setting itself explains in the help text below it.

I recommend unchecking this setting normally, and only using it if you have had problems importing a disc. Not only does it slow things down, but if the disc is seriously damaged, it can lock iTunes in an endless cycle of re-reading the disc to try to work around the error. I had one disc take 8 hours, and the cycle actually burned out my optical drive! (Repaired under warranty, thankfully.) Don’t check this setting, unless you’re going to monitor the import, and cancel it if it’s still not working.

Donna Ford September 16, 2007 at 1:15 pm

I feel like Forrest Gump but at least I have a wonderful coach like you to help me.

When I took out the error correction setting, I was able to rip at 6-7 minutes per CD at 6-16x!!! I haven’t a clue why it was checked and here I was erroneously blaming poor old iTunes. Finding this answer has made my day and I’ll give WMP 11 a rest. No telling what all that slow time did to my drive and mine is not under warranty.

Do go to the Creative Site and look at the new ZEN with 2.5 screen and it can be used with AAC files!!! An expansion card sweetens the pot. Still can’t find one in the wild but any day maybe.

You may have unleashed a monster on iTunes — Happy Listening, Donna

Bruce A September 18, 2007 at 12:09 pm

My wife had the same problem with iTunes. I don’t know why the error correction setting causes so much trouble with the Windows version of iTunes. I’ve noticed that it slows down ripping a little bit on my MacBook, so I leave it unchecked, but it’s nowhere near the performance hit as in Windows.

I’ve also taken to using a much, much faster external DVD burner for ripping, as the internal drive is terribly sluggish.

Bernard Doddema September 21, 2007 at 6:57 am

@Alderete: If we’re importing audiobooks, we still want to keep error correction checked though, right?

I can get up to 6x when I import using error correction.

Alderete September 23, 2007 at 12:36 am

@Bernard: No, I never have that turned on, unless I’m dealing with a damaged disc that won’t import. It makes no difference whether it’s music or audiobooks, or whatever. Turn it off, leave it off, unless you need it for a specific disc.

Donna Ford September 23, 2007 at 11:21 am

We audio book lovers should never buy a player right out of the box because these companies do not give a hoot about anything but music.

After much research I find that the new ZEN will not bookmark (or resume) on its SD expansion card which makes it useless for me. Best Buy’s Pilot Insignia also has lots going for it but I’m waiting on an answer from them about the expansion resume feature.

This puts me back to square one—APPLE—and probably an 8GB Nano which is a steal for $200. I guess there really is a reason why they don’t add all whistles and bells; what they do make is solid and it works well.

My inexpensive Sansas will resume and do everything I want for books but not as good as my iPod so they will do fine for WMP11. So, Michael, the iPod can’t really be beaten and it is clear why they sell so many. Just glad I didn’t make a mistake in buying right out of the box.

What’s your opinion of Wheel of Darkness by Preston and Child. I just read it as a first for them. You’re the expert so how does it rank?

Bruce A September 25, 2007 at 8:56 am

If you’re concerned about an absolutely flawless rip, you’ve got a couple options. I’m not sure that Apple’s error correction option does anything other than slow things down. If you’re using a Mac, get “Max”:http://sbooth.org/Max/ and under the ripping options, choose “CD Paranoia”. This will give very good error correction.

The absolute best error correction (so I am told) is found in Exact Audio Copy (EAC) which is, sadly, Windows-only.

Both Max and EAC can rip to a single file, and they both have a variety of encoding options (though I do not know if EAC can encode directly to AAC) so you can just use that, import the rips into iTunes (Max can add its encoded files directly to your iTunes library) and then tag and sync.

All that said, I’ve never had a problem with simply using iTunes to rip audiobooks.

Alderete October 16, 2007 at 8:00 pm

@Donna: I haven’t listened to Wheel of Darkness yet. Indeed, it’s likely to be years before I do, because most of the Agent Pendergast books are unavailable in audiobook format, or available only in abridged versions. I’ve listened to Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities but nothing else, so I’m really not an expert…

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: