August 9, 2008 5:56 PM   Subscribe

I want a mp4/3 IPOD like gadget and I'd like to use it for... 60% to play videos (converted from my DVD collection), 35% to play music (MP3 etc) and 5% to listen to FM radio - the radio is negotiable, not vital. I've never owned or used an MP3/4 player and I'm clueless.

Options I've considered below: please add any others that I've missed.

SONY NWZA818B (8gb) for £70.

IPOD Classic (80gb) for approx £159.

IPOD Touch (8gb) for approx £179.

IPOD Nano (8gb) for approx £120.

CREATIVE ZEN (8gb) for approx £90.

Is watching a movie on a 2inch screen actually watchable ?

I'm currently in London (UK) but I'll soon be flying to Thailand via Abu Dhabi... so I have duty free options also.
posted by selton to Technology (25 answers total)
Response by poster: I should have added: all things being equal I prefer buttons to touch-screen.
posted by selton at 5:59 PM on August 9, 2008

If you want it for videos, 8 gigs is probably too small. I can watch short videos on my mini screen (iPod) but I don't know that I could watch a whole movie. Maybe. You'd lose a lot of detail though.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:05 PM on August 9, 2008

yes you will noticeable lose quality if you are watching movies that are less than a 1gig so in the end on a 8 gig you will probably get 2-4 movies and an 1-2 hours of music. if you are getting something to watch movies i would say a ipod touch sized screen is the size you want otherwise the screen is really small to watch although a screen that is the size on a ipod classic is doable is is not really like watching the movie more like listening to it with vague pictures.
posted by humanawho at 6:20 PM on August 9, 2008

As arcticwoman stated, 8gigs doesn't hold a lot of video. Either get a player with a larger internal capacity, or something that will take removable media. I've got a Cowon D2 that I really like, but it is a little picky about the video format. I find the 2.5" screen is big enough for me to watch a movie or some tv on.

Something to keep an eye out for is battery life, video eats up a lot more battery than audio.
posted by jjb at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2008

actually now that i think about it more you could probably be happy with movies as small as half a gig which will obviously add to the movies you could have on it but as long as you are planing to use your computer to charge your device you will be able to change the movies on it frequently so i wouldn't worry to much about the size in that case 8+ gigs is probably find depending on how you will use it
posted by humanawho at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2008

One of these things is not like the others.

Sony: 2" (240 x 320)

iPod Nano: 2" (320 x 240)

iPod Classic: 2.5" (320 x 240)

Creative Zen: 2.5" (320 x 240)

iPod Touch: 3.5" widescreen (480 x 320)

If your primary use is going to be watching videos, the iPod Touch is going to blow the others out of the water. You will need to swap your movies out pretty often, though, with 8 GB of space.
posted by designbot at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2008

What about the 32Gb iPod Touch? That should give you a fair amount of room for movies. The iPod Touch will provide the best viewing experience of the ones you've mentioned. If movies is the most important option, as far as iPods go, then you certainly want to go Touch and not Classic or Nano. The touch-screen is different, but my experience was that it was easy to get used to.
posted by whiskeyspider at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2008

I have an iPhone (16gb) which is pretty much the iPod touch + phone, and it works great for movies and travel.

iTunes has a syncing feature that lets you only sync the first X number of unwatched movies to the device, so you can keep a library of movies on your computer, and then sync the newest unwatched movies every time you plug it in. Or you can just manually add movies to it.

Also, as for encoding and file size, if you are ripping *just* for ipod playback, you can get away with 300-400MB/movie sizes (500-600Kb/sec), which greatly expands the number of movies you can fit on your device. On a mac, I use Handbrake for dvd ripping, and VisualHub for files acquired from other sources. So on an 8gb iPod touch you would be looking at around 12 or so movies in that format. You would run down your battery before being able to watch them all.

re: FM receiver, I haven't noticed the lack of radio, instead I subscribe to a few podcast feeds, and again auto sync the most recent 5 unplayed podcasts to my iPhone. That gives me around 5-6 hours of 'radio' that I actually want to listen to between syncs with my computer.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:50 PM on August 9, 2008

Get the 16GB or 32GB iPod Touch.
posted by cnc at 7:06 PM on August 9, 2008

Another vote for the iPod touch. I have a 16 gig model and love it. Yes, it's touchscreen and not buttons; no, it doesn't have a radio. But it handles video beautifully.

Also: handles mp3s beautifully. And has a calendar, and a browser, and a note-taking thing, and with the new software, you can download games and utilities and whatnot. Incredibly versatile.
posted by rtha at 7:09 PM on August 9, 2008

What about the zune? You could get 20GB version or 30GB version and it has 3 (or 3.2) inch screen for watching movies, which Ive found is pretty decent for watching movies and you can hold it comfortably without obstructing the view. It also has FM radio and wireless sync which I love.
posted by lilkeith07 at 7:15 PM on August 9, 2008

I've used both an iPhone and an iPod Classic while on travel - in the car, on an airplane, etc. I will say this - the iPod Classic is certainly watchable. It is not great or amazing or fantastic, but it is watchable. I used mine mostly for TV - The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Weeds - and, for me, it worked.

That said, the iPod Classic really, really, really does not compare to the iPod Touch/iPhone when it comes to watching video. The screen on the iPod Touch is bright and vibrant and (relatively) spacious. I find it difficult to go back to the iPod Classic, now that I use my iPhone. I think it's a very important thing to consider.

But, as many people have pointed out, space is an issue. 80GB is a lot more than 8GB. If you're going to be traveling for long stretches of time, and won't be able to move content on and off frequently, you really will benefit from having all the extra space the iPod Classic offers.

As for listening to MP3s... I have to say, I still prefer the iPod Classic. There's just something about the interaction with the dial and the way everything is formatted.. I just really like it. I can listen to music on my iPhone without a problem, but for some reason it just ... doesn't feel right. I can't really put my finger on it, exactly. The iPhone/iPod Touch experience is certainly prettier, but it doesn't feel as intuitive.

posted by kbanas at 7:19 PM on August 9, 2008

Note you can add FM radio to any iPod with Griffin's iFM or Apple's Radio Remote.
posted by churl at 7:49 PM on August 9, 2008

How about a used Nokia N800? They run about $200 US on eBay. It has a 4.1 inch 800 × 480 screen and plays back videos up to 400 x 240. Storage is expandable via two SD(HC) card slots. An 8GB cards costs around $30 US, and they make them as large as 32GB. It can do a lot of other fun things besides music/movie playback, too.
posted by PueExMachina at 8:34 PM on August 9, 2008

almsot forgot, it has an FM radio too
posted by PueExMachina at 8:35 PM on August 9, 2008

How about a Sony PSP? Install the hax and go crazy.
posted by jedrek at 11:40 PM on August 9, 2008

How about an Archos of some kind? Two of the 605 WiFi models are within the price range of your examples. The 4GB flash-based version (upgradable with memory cards) seems to be about £140 and the 30GB version about £170.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 11:45 PM on August 9, 2008

If you're really considering spending money in the 32GB ipod touch range, I'd put in another vote for the N800. You can put your movies on SD cards and buy as many of them as you need. It has FM and web radio and plays a wide choice of non-DRM-encumbered video formats. It also supports Flash for watching movies online.

And I believe that the fact that you are allowed to install whatever software you like without having to ask anyone for permission should be taken into account positively.
posted by criticalbeaver at 12:34 AM on August 10, 2008

I have a 3 year old Archos AV500 that works well. The later ones are supposed to be rather good so worth auditioning.
posted by arcticseal at 8:40 AM on August 10, 2008

Check out Sansa products. I have several and use them daily.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:30 AM on August 10, 2008

You absolutely cannot watch a movie on a 2-inch screen. Its a terrible experience. Even the Nokia 800 is tiny. I suggest one of these devices.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:33 AM on August 10, 2008

^...but if you are going to, less than a gig per full-length movie is more than enough quality-wise for it to look decent (in contrast to humanatwo's comment). I frequently watch movies < 1Gig on a large HDTV, and they look almost as good as the DVD source (if they were encoded well).
posted by bizwank at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2008

I've been happy with the Creative Zen Vision M. 30 Gigabytes, I believe, and less proprietary than an iPod.
posted by Alabaster at 4:40 PM on August 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to you all for your helpful suggestions and advice. I really was swamped by options and ignorant before I asked.

I've now decided to either go with an iPod Touch 16gb+ or change completely and get one of the mini-DVD players that damn dirty ape suggested above.
posted by selton at 12:29 AM on August 11, 2008

check the offering from cowon, excellent players with wide format support(video and audio).

Nokia or archos might not be a bad idea since they also have internet

iriver spinn is supposed to be released soon, might want to check that out
posted by radsqd at 1:32 PM on August 11, 2008

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