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Creative Nomad vs. iPod - Product Review Part I

Ipod_2 It was time to buy a full featured portable music device.  I'd toyed with small devices that holds a few CD's worth of music.  I had waited for a manufacturer to give me one to test ( I do edit after all! ) or for one to arrive as a gift from a rich friend.  No such luck.

I was tired of waiting.  I love music.  I love the idea of carrying a lot of music with me everywhere and I travel a lot.  But which one should I buy?

Hpipod_5 Apple is the obvious choice.  It's cool.  It looks and feels sexy.  Let's face it - iPod and the accompanying iTunes are the gold standard.  But it bothers me that I could only buy music for your iPod from iTunes (or by rip existing CD's as mp3's not WMA's) and that the music purchased at iTunes could only be played on an iTunes enabled device.  In other words, if I ever wanted to buy a new cool payer from a manufacturer not licensed by Apple any music purchased on iTunes would probably be unusable.  Things could change, but lets face it Apple does not have a history of open sourcing or even of playing nice.  So an iPod - even though very alluring - was out for me.

Dell_1 I looked at Dell.  I'm a huge Dell fan.  Our businesses only buy Dell.  Very solid products at competitive prices with unsurpassed customer service, support and repair.  I could go on and on about how great Dell is, but that's another story.  I even visited a Dell kiosk at the Mall.  Played with the 5 and 20 gig Pocket DJ's.  Compact.  A bit utilitarian looking, but it might do the trick.  Then I went online to buy and and the estimated delivery date was in February.  No way was I waiting two months to achieve musical nirvana.

Creative_nomad A co-worker had just bought a Creative Nomad player.  He loves it and enjoyed that it was a lot cheaper than the comparable iPod. Then I learned Napster's plan to sell $180 yearly subscriptions that would allow you to keep 10,000 tracks on your portable as long as you stayed subscribed.  An ever changing 1000 CD collection for the price of a dozen CD's a year.  How cool is that?  And Creative was going to be one of the first players to provide an upgrade that enabled this new service.  Dell and Apple weren't even on the list. (Although I'll bet Dell is too smart not to join in.)

A co-worker had recently purchased at Creative Nomad Zen player.  He loved it

Amazon_3 So I went online and found the Creative Nomad Jukebox Xtra 40GB MP3 Player at Amazon for just over $200 after a rebate - almost half the price of the similar sized iPod.  The stars had aligned and I clicked the purchase icon.

A couple of days later, I've charged the (easily replaceable) battery for the requisite 4 hours, listened to the demo, installed the software and am downloading most of the 1800 tracks from my laptop into the device as I write this.  So far it's been flawless. 

Gag_chick_elle_2_2 The device itself isn't nearly as sexy as an iPod, but it is a bit more elegant than the Dell and some other devices that I've seen.  It's a  bit too thick around the middle (.86 inches), but then again so am I.

How will it perform?  Will the allure of a trimmer unit ultimately trump price and a more open platform?  (It feels like I'm looking across the dance floor in high school trying to make myself pick the girl who I know would make me laugh over the hottie.) Will after Christmas sales reveal even more choices?  Stay tuned...