(Note to regular readers: Sorry about the recent lack of posts. We are in the middle of a difficult PCS move so opportunities to update the blog have been few and far between. As I get my family stable I'll get back to my usual writing fare. Today I figured to post something a bit more fun.)
The perfect MP3 player to take downrange would need to be slim, durable, have a lot of flash-based memory, and have some nice additional features like WiFi browsing and some basic productivity applications. You can't take your laptop everywhere and the ability to send your spouse an email from a surprise WiFi hotspot would rock. Could that player be Apple's flagship iPod?
Hell yes. I am posting this from my new WiFi enabled iPod Touch. My wife got a sweet package deal on a Touch packaged with a Macbook. It features 32 Gigabytes of flash memory storage. Flash memory means no moving parts which means no hard drive to break. It also means that with 32 GB you should have no problem holding the largest music collections as long as you do not mind lossy compression algorithms.
Personally I am a fan of lossless codecs like FLAC or Apple Lossless. With a lossless library already stretching over 60 gigs myself, I needed to find an acceptable codec that would meet my audiophile standards while at the same time providing better-than-harddrive reliability.
The Touch appears to be that device, albeit one with a high price for membership. Without rebates, the 32 gigs Touch will set you back $499. Granted, that is a lot to spend on any device just for just a collection of tunes. However, the Touch isn't just an MP3 player. The integrated WiFi and Safari browser allow for the best full page web browsing of any device on the market smaller than a laptop. Great for surprise hot spots, airports, Starbucks, etc...
My entire library compressed down to about 13 gigs using the 192 kpbs MP3 encoding function available in iTunes. (I would challenge anyone to hear a discernable difference between 192 kpbs and lossless using only earbuds.) As for durability, we'll have to find out. Flash based players are generally more durable than their hard drive counterparts. A case is going to be a must, so my first candidate will be the iTouch Defender from Otterbox. Anyway, I'm stoked to have it. Thanks honey!