By Ben Stallings on Sat, 02/21/2009
I'm going on a long train trip from Kansas to DC next week to attend DrupalCon, and I've got a big audio book to listen to, but after some thought I'm planning to use my Windows Mobile smartphone instead of my iPod Touch to listen to it. I thought I'd post my reasons here to see if some of you iPhone fans can help me change my mind!
First, a caveat: "my" 8MB iPod Touch is actually my employer's, this magazine's. Because I don't know how soon I may have to return it, I haven't bought any accessories (such as a power adapter or case) or paid software for it. So I may be missing out on part of the full iPod Touch owner's experience.
Here are the factors in favor of using my smartphone, a Pantech PN-820, as MP3 player instead of the iPod:
- Battery life. The PN-820's battery lasts for 2-3 days at a time, and playing MP3s seems to have no effect. Making calls or roaming into an analog area, of course, does. When the battery does run low, I can plug the phone into either my computer or an AC plug, which will be handy on the train and in the stations, or swap in the battery from my last phone (which got water damage). The iPod did not come with a power adapter, and I haven't bought one, so when its battery runs low after 4-5 hours of use, the only place I can plug it in is my computer, which will not always be handy while traveling. Swapping the battery is not an option.
- Volume controls. I can adjust the volume of the PN-820 without removing it from my pocket. Try that on the iPod Touch. It's possible, but it would take a lot of practice.
- Removable media. I can add or remove tracks or entire CDs from the PN-820 by plugging its mini-SD card into a USB adapter and putting it in any computer. I don't have to use a particular account in a particular program on a particular computer. I don't have to add this audio book -- which came from a public library -- to my music library on my computer, where it has no business being because it is not my property. Also, I can delete the CDs from the phone as soon as I'm done listening to them, without having to sync with my computer. I haven't found any way to do any that on the iPod -- it may require additional software that I haven't found yet. Suggestions welcome.
- Durability. Whose idea was it to put the touch-sensitive, high-resolution, glass screen on the outside of the device? My PN-820 is a clamshell -- I can throw it in my pocket and not worry about it getting scratched. I've dropped it down concrete steps, and into the sink, and it kept right on playing. OK, after dropping it in the sink I had to replace it, but doing so cost me just $70 (and an extension to my phone contract), compared to the iPod's $300. Since I don't have a case, I carry the iPod in a foam envelope.
- The "Is that an iPhone?" factor. You know what I'm talking about. People on trains are friendly. I'm not always in the mood for friendly, especially when I'm listening to an audio book. Also, in my experience, the closed quarters of a train are no deterrent to phone theives. I'll whip out the iPod at DrupalCon, make no mistake. But on the train and particularly in Chicago's Union Station, the smartphone is more discreet.
So those are my reasons. I'm eager to hear what suggestions you may have to make the iPod Touch compare more favorably!