While the iPod may be a great little device, the iTunes software for Windows stinks.
When it’s working well it’s not bad. I like the functionality, and I love the idea of being able to sample and shop a large music library online. But iTunes software is not written well. It uses up too many system resources (memory and CPU) and can generally interfere with other work I’m doing on my computer. It behaves weirdly, freezes the operating system sometimes for long periods, and at least a couple of times caused me to lose work in other applications. It’s especially troublesome on an office laptop that operates in and out of a Windows domain.
Bottom line here is that if your PC is your primary tool for work, using iTunes might be a risk you don’t want to take.
But if you can’t go without your iPod and you love the convenience of buying your music easily online there are some alternatives to using the iTunes software
For Just Playing Music
–If you aren’t really transferring more music to your iPod then don’t worry. Use iTunes when other programs are closed to transfer music to your iPod and use something else to listen to mp3’s on your computer. There are plenty of music players out there.
For Transferring Music to an Ipod
—WinAmp with one of the iPod plug-ins
For buying and browsing the iTunes store
—SharpMusique – A freeware program that accesses the iTunes store (with your existing iTunes login/password). Works well and downloads music easily. The problem with this program is that it strips out the DRM (digital rights management) from the iTunes downloads. That is great for playing your iTunes songs on a device other than an iPod, but when it strips out the DRM it also strips out the song information. So you have to rename your songs and enter in genre, album info, etc.
And a final thought:
There’s a good chace that the standalone music player will dissappear in the next few years The iPod may morph into a phone (or something more). While good music playing phones are expensive now, in two years they will be a commodity item, and every good phone will have at least 4gigs of flash memory and a capable music player. Why have two devices when you can have it all on your phone that you’ve got to carry around anyway?
Take a look at the recent success of Sony Ericsson with their new new line of excellent flash equipped music playing phones. I Ebay’d my iPod for a Sony Ericsson k750i and love it. I always have tunes and it’s a really well designed product.
And very soon we should all forget about plugging in your phone to your PC to transfer music –just do it wirelessly with Bluetooth. Transfer to your PC, stream to your home and car stereo, and share tunes easily with your friends.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.
UPDATE: Uhh, I completely forgot to discuss Podcasting in this post. If you really use the iTunes store, and subscribe to many podcasts, well you’re probably better off sticking with iTunes.
But, if you’re as stubborn as I am there are alternatives. There are some good free podcast receivers out there and many RSS aggregators support podcasting. You’d just have to tell the software what folder to drop your podcasts in and then synch that folder with your iPod using an iTunes alternative.