Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rockbox for iPods

CNet Article as found on Digg.

So while waiting for a computer to finish installing Windows Update I was looking over Digg, because as midnight with nothing on TV (yes, [AS] is on with the new Apple commercials, but I'm not really paying attention) and there is a link to a CNet article about Rockbox.

The author, James Kim, recently installed Rockbox on his iPod. Incidently, I had done so as well after another posting on Digg to a Newsforge (I think, I can't find the exact article) posting a bit about the program and how to install it. Since I had to format my computer, I decided to take the plunge and possibly turn my iPod into an expensive paperweight.

Luckily it all went smoothly. Anyone who has used DOS, understands what firmware is, or normally tweaks with 3rd-party software for hardware shouldn't have any problems either. I won't delve into the specifics of the install, there are more than enough tutorials out there for that.

Now, I don't use my iPod nearly as much as I should. It's there when I want to listen to music in the car (my cd changer will sometimes not work), not bother my wife while I'm working on something, or I want to tune out the rest of the world. Unforunately, none of those things happen very often so it sits on my desk, buried under papers, awaiting for my beck and call.

I use the iPod even less now. In fact, I don't think I've really touched it since installing Rockbox. When one gets right down to it, the iPod is just like the CD changer in my car, just holding more CDs. I want it to work just as easily. With the CD changer, I pop in up to 10 CDs. I can change between CDs and songs without looking at the display through the use of a nice controller. It works. And so does the default iPod firmware.

Rockbox is more powerful, handles more codecs, and has the ability to be expanded with plugins. It has a kick-ass equilizer system built in giving one complete control over the sound output, which is essential for MP3s that are not CD quality. I don't need that.

I can't make playlists on-the-fly like I can with the default firmware. It doesn't just go to sleep, it turns off. And it may just be me, but the HD seems to spin a lot more. The interface just isn't a clean under Rockbox. And having the light on all the time by default seems like a waste of battery.

The iPod is about simplicity, not so many features that you loose count. Call me lazy, but I think that I'll be passing on Rockbox for now. Not because I want to be locked into iTunes (which I happen to like as music organizing software, and I use WinAmp 2.8 to play music), but because I want my iPod to be an iPod - clean interface, easy management software, and to not make me think about what I'm doing.

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