11 May 2007, 2:55
Now that I have Rockbox installed on my mp3 player, even the music I listen to in my car isn't free from the watchful eye of last.fm.
You can see, for example, that I threw on some VNV Nation for my morning commute, and that I accidentally left it on when I got home and it decided to play a non-stop block of Wumpscut (it was on random play, I swear!) until the battery died or gave up in Rudy-inspired despair. Whichever came first.
Now, some words about the iAudio X5. I've had mine for just about a year now. I wish I had an iPod. Features-wise, the X5 is more impressive. It has a larger hard drive (or did at the time), plays flac and ogg and a slew of neat formats, and the USB on-the-go feature seems really useful (you can connect a thumbdrive, digital camera, or any USB storage device to it and copy files directly onto the X5--no computer involved). But I don't think I have any flac or ogg files on it and I've not once had an opportunity to use USB OTG. On top of that, the interface sucks (everything you want is doable but you might have to go through several menus to get there), you can't charge it or connect to a computer without a special dock, and it can't play and charge at the same time (meaning for long roadtrips it's pretty much useless, even though I have a car charger). And to make matters worse, every five songs or so the audio messes up completely--it makes this weird beepy-popping noise and the audio is sped up somewhat--for about three seconds. It's a very minor inconvenience, but it seems to always strike when I'm right in the middle of a song I'm really getting into.
Rockbox didn't improve the interface much. The database is alright, and last.fm support is awesome, but other than that I don't use much of what it provides. And everything is still ugly, only now largely text-based. At least the Now Playing screen can be themed to be somewhat less hideous.
In short, get an iPod. If you're stuck with a crap mp3 player, hope you can get Rockbox because at least then the music you listen to on your lame device can be made known to the world. Because we all care, really.