For my father: FM tuner for iPod? (or just get a Zune?)
March 5, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Should I get my father an iPod or a Zune (caveat: he wants an FM tuner)?

My father's 71st birthday is coming up (tomorrow actually, whoops!).

We've discussed iPods, and he's backed down from them being new-fangled and I've gotten him into the idea. He's pretty tech-savvy (can edit his registry) but he's still old (he returned his Razr because it was too complicated).

We agreed that I would set up his iPod like I have mine set up, to work without iTunes (please spare me the "why don't you like iTunes") and to be able to give and get music from any computer, so that I could preload and he could rip his CDs later.

But, he absolutely must have an FM tuner. I sort of see some different FM-tuner products for the iPod, of varying dubious levels of quality. The Zune has an FM tuner built in.

I'd rather he get the iPod, basically because I'll be doing most (or maybe all) of the legwork and I'm most familiar with it. I also feel like there's a lot on the Zune he won't need -- he won't be going to the Zune store to download music or videos or whatever you can do with it.

My questions: Is there an FM-tuner product for the iPod Classic that would rival the Zune? Or is the Zune better regardless? Will I be able to set up the Zune to use on multiple computers? Thoughts on the learning curve/intuitiveness difference between the two?
posted by thebazilist to Technology (13 answers total)
You could always use a Sansa. Most models have FM tuning, it can run either as a mass-storage class device or use the Media Transfer Protocol, so it's no problem using it on multiple machines. And it's cheap as hell.
posted by sinfony at 3:59 PM on March 5, 2009

My father was in this situation and it turned out he had ripped the music he had using Windows Media Player, and it was all in .wma format. So an iPod would have been the wrong choice for him. Something to ask about.
posted by smackfu at 4:03 PM on March 5, 2009

Creative makes some really great products. I have a Zen that keeps me company, it has a pretty great FM radio tuner built in. It also has the bonus of being really really easy to use. I can just drag files to it and it will read them, or I can sync it with any number of programs, including Windows Media Player and RealPlayer. Looks like they make them in up to 8 gig.
posted by Night_owl at 4:09 PM on March 5, 2009

Depending on what stations he wants, he may be fine with an iPhone. For instance, there are NPR applications that let you listen to web streams of NPR, etc.
posted by Pants! at 4:09 PM on March 5, 2009

If he wants a drag and drop device with an FM tuner, why not just get him one of those? Creatives are good. I got a 2 gig RCA Pearl at Walmart for 30 bucks. It sounds like an iPod, or even a Zune, might be too much mp3 player for him; if he wants to drag and drop files and use the FM radio, just get a device that lets him to so, easily (it will almost certainly be cheaper than either of the other devices).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2009

I got a Zune for that exact reason; I wanted an FM tuner. I like my Zune 80 but it's a clunky thing, not particularly intuitive and sometimes finicky to use. That Zen mentioned above sounds better. There's a lot that I never use: Videos, Social, Marketplace. It synchs and updates my podcasts easily though. I've never tried to set my Zune up on anything other than my own computer.
posted by lois1950 at 4:21 PM on March 5, 2009

Response by poster: I forgot to mention that the reason it's between the Zune and the iPod Classic is because he wants the biggest he can get. As far as I've seen, they are the only two that make a big size. Even though he definitely doesn't have enough to fill all 120gigs, he wants them.

The iPhone is not an option at all. He is way anti-smartphone --- he still gets upset when I send him "e-texts."

Thanks for reminding me about ripping in wma format. He has no music at all on his computer, so I'll be doing the initial transfers and then probably teaching him how to rip CDs.
posted by thebazilist at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2009

I love my iPods but if he needs FM, he'll have a dingus a'danglin' from his iPod all the time which will probably drive him nuts. I'd get almost anything else. Zune's are fine as are any of the big name players.
posted by chairface at 4:24 PM on March 5, 2009

Get a Zune.

If your father doesn't want an iPhone and isn't a Mac fanatic, a Zune is a great choice.

The software/environment is only second to Apple's iTunes, and has everything your Dad wants.
posted by Argyle at 4:40 PM on March 5, 2009

It's a present for your dad, right? Then don't choose what you like best, choose what fits his needs best: the Zune. It's got the capacity and the FM. Anything for the iPod is going to at least have the appearance of being a bit kludgy compared to an internal FM tuner. ("iPods are slick and cool and wonderful except, hey, you've got to attach this lameo dongle to listen to the radio, pops.")
posted by 6550 at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2009

For FM tuner and ease of use I would go with the iRiver Clix 2. The only reason that I don't own one is that they don't make them in capacities over 8gb. Probably the best designed and most beautiful mp3 player I've ever used. Built in FM tuner with recording capability. You can either use windows explorer or WMP to manage music and files. Sex.
posted by kinakomochi at 4:52 PM on March 5, 2009

I like the Zune just fine. The desktop software isn't anything to worry about. If he can handle iTunes he can handle the Zune software. Once he gets comfortable with the software you can hook him up with a Zune Pass for $15/month and he can download all of the music he wants from the marketplace.

The Zune also has a physical four-way rocker switch, which might be easier for old folks to use than the touchpad/scroll wheel on the iPod. Actually, the rocker has a touchpad built into it, but you can turn that feature off in the settings.
posted by indyz at 5:19 PM on March 5, 2009

Best answer: The FM tuner for the iPod is terrible. When the FM tuner is plugged in, you can't plug in something else (lanyard attachment, charging cable, etc), plus it's not hard to work its way loose.
posted by 0xFCAF at 7:30 PM on March 5, 2009

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