What Device Do I Need?
February 21, 2014 10:17 AM   Subscribe

For the lowest price (balanced with good reliability) and the least number of functions (ie, I don't want a device that does everything, just three specified related things), I would like a device on which I can download my music program (similar to iTunes) and my Audible manager and from which I can sync my mp3 player. I don't have internet at home but I have access to free wifi at a comfortable place near home.

Since I first began using an mp3 player (approximately 2001), I've worked at firms that were generally okay with my having these programs on my work computer. All my music is stored on an external hard drive that I own.

Now I'm at a firm that is smaller and a bit more restrictive. I'm ready to take the plunge. I really really really don't want an apple product, but do I want a tablet? Is that what I need?
posted by janey47 to Technology (8 answers total)
If you want a tablet, it would have to be one that runs the full version of windows: in general iOS devices are incapable of acting as a USB host and while some Android devices can do it, it's fiddly and requires some doing.

I'd recommend something like the Surface pro, which is a full windows laptop in tablet form (the keyboard comes as part of the detachable cover). Otherwise I'd look into maybe grabbing a small tablet (nexus 7!), ditching the music collection entirely (spotify!) and just consolidating on one device.
posted by Oktober at 10:33 AM on February 21, 2014

If all your stuff's on an external hard drive, and all you want to do (essentially) is sync your MP3 player, then what you want is a cheap laptop. You want something that runs Windows (as I'm assuming the programs you're using for this are Windows ones) and you want 4GB of RAM. You don't want a Chromebook (won't run your apps) or an Apple laptop (they're really nice but also won't run your apps as-is and overkill for your needs). Outside of that, your needs are simple enough that it won't really matter too much what you get. Practically any laptop you can find at a Best Buy/Office Depot/etc. will work for what you're going to use it for. For example, this HP laptop runs about $330 at Best Buy and ought to do what you want. It's not going to be a horribly fast system by any stretch but it'll be good enough for just managing your mp3 player.

You can go with a tablet and still keep your existing workflow but you'd be going with a Microsoft Surface Pro or a convertible laptop-type thing (like the Lenovo Yoga) which will be fairly expensive for what you're going to use it for.

Depending on the size of your collection, though, you could always find a tablet (or an iPod Touch, if you want to stay small) with sufficient storage space and just load everything on it. You could then use the apps on the device to add new music and audiobooks to the device. This all really depends on how much stuff you have, though; if you've got a 160GB drive that's full, you're not going to find a tablet-type device with that much storage. Additionally, you'd have to find access to a computer to do the initial load of stuff onto the device since really none of them support attaching things like external hard drives.
posted by mrg at 11:40 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

What's your budget? How low is satisfactorily low?
posted by artlung at 12:48 PM on February 21, 2014

What is your music program? And what is your MP3 player? I ask because these are the factors that will drive your purchase.

As mrg mentioned, you'll need a computer of your own, and tablets generally don't cut it. Oktober mentioned that basic tablets won't do what you need (allow transfer of files to a MP3 player), but there are tablets that are actually full-blown PCs (personal computers), but with a touch surface. They are spiffy, but touch screens greatly increases the cost of the item.

I'll second mrg with the suggestion that pretty much any laptop you purchase will handle music downloading and managing. I like to suggest looking in weekly sales for office stores and Best Buy. Find the best deal for a non-Chromebook, which typically don't store things on the local computer.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:30 PM on February 21, 2014

I think you want a cheap laptop.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:30 PM on February 21, 2014

All in, I'd like to pay less than $500, but the lower the better.

I use a Microsoft Zune. Don't judge me! As far as I know, it's the only 80g mp3 player left and, as I've said, I'm really averse to apple products.

Thanks to all for your help!
posted by janey47 at 2:52 PM on February 21, 2014

Well, there still is the 160GB iPod Classic, but whatever.

You're basically stuck using the Zune software then, which means you're 1) stuck using windows and 2) probably stuck using Windows 8.

So, cheap laptop or surface-type device it is.
posted by Oktober at 3:41 PM on February 21, 2014

My oft-repeated suggestion is to look at the weekly ads for Staples, Fryes, Best Buy, and any other office/computer chain store in your area, as they will frequently have $100-200 off sales on their laptops. Given that

You're basically stuck using the Zune software then, which means you're 1) stuck using windows and 2) probably stuck using Windows 8.

Yes, you'll need Windows, but no, you won't need Win 8. But if you're buying a new computer, it's more than likely you'll get Win 8 at this point. Here's the requirements page for the MS Zune software, which states "To get the most out of the Zune software, your computer should meet these system requirements:
  • Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8. It won't work on Windows RT.
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM"
In short, pretty much any laptop currently being sold. For instance, I'm seeing a number of refurbished laptops from Staples for under $300, and some smaller form laptops for around $300, plus a number of larger laptops on sale for up to $250 off of the sticker price. You might get Windows 7 on a refurbished machine, but most (if not all) new laptops come with Windows 8 pre-installed now.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:51 AM on February 25, 2014

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