REVIEW: Sony Walkman NWZ-E353

This is an old review, but I thought it relevant to post, because of the way that the Sony Walkman changed my music listening habits.

IMG_20140615_080150SONY Walkman NWZ-E353

For years, I had avoided going digital. I had an old iPod. The little one with no screen. It was awful. Syncing with iTunes? Why can’t it be simpler? When I listen to a CD, I drop it in and push “play”. No syncing, no trying to understand iTunes. That kind of simplicity is what I’m looking for. Then I had another iPod, a Mini, which was even worse; the battery was useless and it couldn’t power up. Plus iTunes is just awful, I don’t care what the Apple fanatics say. It’s not an intuitive program in the least. Why can’t it be easier?

I decided to pick this Sony Walkman up and I’m glad I did. It has revolutionized the way I listen to music. Before I had gotten to the point where I was only listening to music on CD in the car and occasionally at home when Mrs. LeBrain was out shopping. Now, I can have music going almost anytime I want, morning noon and night.

And it’s easy! Drag and drop! How much simpler can you get? Because I’m a bit OCD, when I rip a CD I edit my ID3 tags to get the cover art going and make sure the tracks are in the right order and so on. But it’s so easy, and I’d do anything to avoid having to use iTunes.

I don’t even care about the 4 meg size on this model. When the player gets full, I just delete some albums that I’ve played enough, and add some more from my computer.  Drag and drop. Easy! I rip my CDs to the highest quality MP3 possible, so I really only get about 25 albums on here at a time. But that’s plenty — when am I going to be away from my computer long enough to listen to 25 albums? It’s never happened. I’d have to charge it first anyway. Maybe I’ll upgrade one day to a player with bigger storage, but I don’t see the point right now.

IMG_20140615_080220The only modification I did was to buy some better, more comfortable ear buds. I’ve been through a few different pairs. With that combination, I have the best quality portable music that I need. I also bought some portable speakers but they go largely unused. I prefer to plug my player into the AUX IN jack of a stereo, and I’m off to the races.

The Walkman has some customization available, such as wallpaper, photo galleries, etc. It has this thing called “SensMe”…it’s supposed to pick music based on moods. I could care less, I don’t listen to random songs, I listen to albums. I prefer to listen to songs in the context in which they were meant to be listened to. There’s a fine sounding FM radio as well. There’s a video player but it seems to be quite finicky as to what type of files it will play, so I don’t use that feature. I had no desire to, anyway.

Battery life is excellent. It has battery saving software as well. I can listen to music all week, as often as I can squeeze it in, and only charge it once a week. It is charged with the included USB cable. Easy, easy, easy.

Whether I am listening to heavy rock, classical music, country, or jazz, I have had no issues at all with the sound quality. For example right now I am listening to Ryan Adams’ Demolition album. The bass frequencies are strong but the clarity of the acoustic guitar is stunning! The only music that suffers is live music. As you know with a live album you have the continual backdrop of crowd noise. An MP3 player places a split-second pause between every song, which goes unnoticed on studio albums. On live albums, it breaks up the crowd noise slightly and can be distracting. Not a huge deal, but I aim to be complete in my reviews.

So, enjoy this awesome MP3 player. Here are my 5 basic tips to the best listening experiences!

1. Rip your CDs to the highest possible quality. Don’t download.
2. Grab a free ID3 tag editor for maximum enjoyment — add cover art, correct spelling mistakes or track order.
3. Buy a good pair of comfortable earbuds to maximize the sound quality.
4. Use the battery saving software.
5. Throw out your iPod.

Enjoy!

5/5 stars

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79 comments

        1. Yes it is! According to iTunes, my entire collection would take 89.6 days to play through, so I need the space!

          Apparently they make a 160 GB version now.

          http://www.apple.com/ca/ipodclassic/

          I just love having boxes and boxes worth of CDs in my shirt pocket, all at my fingertips. It’s pretty crazy, when you think of how far things have come in such a short time.

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        2. It is absolutely incredible. It is a revelation to me. I have an 8 gig flash drive in the car, which is so much damn music. I could use a bigger flash drive if I wanted, but I find they tend to load up slower in my car.

          The idea of NOT having to take my precious CDs out of my house, and being able to have all the music right there in the car whenever I want…it’s something I never could have dreamed of. I’m not even close to finished ripping my CDs.

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        1. Haha yeah it was nuts (so to speak). We did a sauna thing where you sit in the sauna for so long, then run out and jump off the dock into the lake, and then scramble like mad back into the sauna for a while, then jump in the lake again. Three times we did that. I’ll tell you, though, we slept like babies that night.

          My other major option for cold water was to say “Well, I’ve stood in the North Sea off St. Andrews up to my knees, and stood there a good while (til my feet were numb) if that would count.” (time of year hardly matters, it’s the fucking North Sea). But then I realized probably only Scott would go “Haha yeah that’s daft.” So I used the Superior one instead. :)

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      1. I’m glad that we can discuss the merits of our favourite systems in a calm rational, adult fashion!

        Seriously though I know what people say about ease of use and sound quality, but I think where the iPod scores big is that only poopy pants losers use a Walkman these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. iTunes desktop software is a scourge, frankly, but it is the best desktop computer music player I’ve tried (and there are several out there). Of course, only iTunes will work with iOS prods. The syncing, the authorize computer and updating apps is a PITA on the thing and scary because if you press the wrong button you can delete your entire iPod by accident.

    I have both a Samsung GS 2 phone and an iPod Touch. The hubs makes fun of me for carrying two devices but 1) all my music was on the Pod before I got my phone (30 gigs) 2) I have not found a decent player for my phone that is intuitive- no kidding 3) I have no data plan, and Android requires you to have constant access to the internet to utilise voice recognition software like blutooth, so essentially can’t wear a blutooth and play music in the car too because the phone also connects to the aux in the car thru the headphones jack (found a workaround for lack of blutooth with an earbud mic headset and an app). So happily, I use my iPod :)

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    1. Ahh yes. I have indeed stirred up some controversy!

      I get your reasons for using it. And I guess since you ARE used to it now, it’s easier for you to use.

      Me, I just love the simplicity of drag and drop. I just don’t know why Apple didn’t do the same. What could be easier?

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      1. Agreed! The walkman sounds like it is that easy. Android and its music player has a similar drag and drop, but the music player is not intuitive at all. And for a walkman, it does one thing – play music. An iPod touch and phone has several functions, so a walkman better get it right or else it’s a useless brick! Glad you found something that works for you! Honestly, with my tech experience, I’d drop the iTouch if I found anything better.

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        1. I don’t use my phone as a music player for a variety of reasons…battery life being one, and the other being I use my phone for so much stuff that it has no time to be a dedicated music player!

          As Aaron knows last year I shot my entire Toronto CD trip on my Blackberry and it turned out great. Next week I plan on using it quite a bit at Sausagefest, in tandem with my Samsung camera/tripod. I’m so excited! As of last night I now have the music for the video!

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      2. BTW, Apple did the whole complex importing stuff in iTunes for DRM purposes. You can add to the iOS, but you cannot take it out and share it with others (unless you had the music on a terabyte storage or something). No straight device to device without a huge workaround that I never found worked. That’s frustrating.

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        1. Yeah, that bugs me. Right now I have my music on my computer for storage, and then I drop albums into my Walkman, or onto a flash drive for my car. That’s how I listen to pretty much everything now — direct on my PC, on my Walkman, or my car’s flash drive. And it’s all the same format.

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    2. “scary because if you press the wrong button you can delete your entire iPod by accident.”

      Really? You’d have to click twice by accident. Once to tell it to reset the iPod, and then again when it says “Are you sure you want to do that?” That’s pretty far from accidental, I’d say.

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      1. In my experience working with students with disabilities, some people don’t understand the on-screen prompts iTunes gives them and they wind up deleting things. I would not call that intentional. iTunes can be confusing.

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        1. Speaking personally, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done something stupid like that on a PC.

          For example accidentally clicking “delete”. Then it prompts you, “Are you sure?” And then I go, oops! No, no, no, no. All the while clicking “yes”.

          Stuff happens.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think I sort of know what you’re referring to though — like if you sync an iPod up with multiple computers, or multiple computers with an iPod, funky stuff has the potential to happen. Or something. Right?

          I love that I put my music collection on my PC, but I can easily load tracks on my laptop, mp3 player, car flash drive, wife’s mp3 player, flash drive for my mom’s car, etc. etc., just by simple drop and drag. I don’t know what steps you’d need to do with an iPod to do that, but I’m completely happy with what I have.

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        3. To your first comment – yes. If you don’t know to sync your iPod manually and hook it up to an iTunes that doesn’t have the same music you can lose your library on your iPod (or so I’ve heard). I know for sure if you haven’t authorized a computer with your iPod, you can lose apps if you sync to a new computer (I know, because it has happened to me)

          And to your second comment, yes, it’s a bit of a pain to load songs on my iPod. We have a terabyte of music on an external. I have to import the songs into iTunes, then put them on my iPod. It’s a process. I haven’t added new songs to it in a few months.

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        4. Well, I suppose if you’re confused or have some sort of disability that makes things confusing, that would be understandable. But the system really does give you two chances before you make major changes. Just like Winblows does. If you happy-click it and then go NOOOO well, that little pop-up is there for that reason. To each their own, I guess.

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        5. That’s me…I can’t tell you how many times I happy-click and then go NOOOO! I wish I was kidding. Ahh well. Everything is there in recycling…it’s only when I accidentally overwrite a file that I don’t know how to fix it.

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  2. In the red-italicized preamble, I smiled seeing the ‘walkman’ changed your listening habits. I think millions would say the same about the Sony Walkman (the cassette version)!

    I’ve got a 1GB ipod from 2006 (talk about keeping up with the times) but should it bite the dust, this looks like a suitable economical replacement

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      1. Like you said though, I’m never away from the computer for long enough to get through everything!
        I was introduced to an expression yesterday “a tyranny of choice” – sort of like at a Starbucks where there is an overwhelming amount of menu options. For that reason I like the 1GB limit, quality over quantity.

        And compared to my sony walkman (where I was limited to one cassette) it’s somehow still a novelty for me to have access to more than one album at a time!

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        1. Great point! You wouldn’t believe the degrees I went to as a kid to listen to ALL my music. I remember going to the cottage…this would have been grade 9…I hauled ALL my tapes (probably about 4 cases or more), I hauled my turntable, my ghetto blaster and my LPs. I had my entire music collection at the cottage, and we’re talking 1986. That’s a huge endevour.

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        2. That is dedication! I remember getting dangerously close to the baggage weight limit on my first trip overseas – all those CDs were somewhat heavier than the single MP3 player!

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        3. In all seriousness, I used to think it was dedication, but now I know it was also something else: I’ve always been OCD pretty much my whole life. It goes all the way back, collecting toys. I realize this now!

          Man, bringing CDs on a trip…yeah, I used to love picking and packing CDs. I’d really plan a trip thoroughly!

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        4. My first MP3 player was 1 GB, a gift from my parents. I ended up naming it Weed King (it’s a Guided By Voices thing). I think I even talked about it, on the KMA one time… I did! Way back in 2008.

          http://keepsmealive.wordpress.com/2008/01/06/long-live-rockathon-indeed/

          Anyway, I went from 1 GB, to 2 GB, to 120 GB. Talking about quantum leaps.

          But I still hold nostalgia for my walkman cassette player. It was special because it had Rewind on it (all my friends’ only had fast-forward). It also had a three-bar graphic equalizer on it. Really, it was a sweet little unit. No idea where it is now.

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  3. Join the revolution Mike! I picked up some “Beats” to go with my iPod and it is pure heaven—-“you will be assimilated” Apple is taking over the world.

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        1. This is probably a bad time then to tell you this is considered the best song from their worst album! They have totally disowned this album as a record company construct.

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  4. Rockin the Ipod here… 32 gb Ipod touch 5…. I agree, Itunes sux ass….but battery life is excellent, sound quality superb (cheaper headphones, and the bass response makes this bassist very happy)

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  5. I’m sooooo OCD with my music.

    All tracks renamed with caps. [Eg. “Straight out of Hell” – becomes “Straight Out Of Hell”]

    All album titles renamed and given a number to match their release order (eg. 01 Led Zeppelin 1, 05 House Of The Holy etc.)

    All tracks edited to specific genre then sub-genre in brackets – [eg. Rock (Progressive Rock) or Metal (Thrash Metal) etc.]

    Every album has artwork, and its 500×500 pixels.

    All data on BPM, Composer etc removed. Only things I care about are kept.

    If an album doesn’t flow well, I re-arange the tracks.

    Intros, outros, skits and interludes, if they aren’t good, are set to be automatically skipped.

    If a song is hugely long, like Pink Floyd’s “Atom Heart Mother Suite” – I’ll break it down into smaller tracks, so I’ll have Atom Heart Mother parts 1-10 instead of one big track.

    Solo albums/Spin Off albums that are so similar to the origonal band that you can’t tell the difference are grouped together with the band. (Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know is with Black Sabbath in B, instead of off on its own in H. Jasta’s solo album is with Hatebreed etc.)

    All tracks given relevant comments that activate automatic playlists (eg. When a rock band plays a blues song, like Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House” or Led Zeppelin’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” that gets given the comment “Bluesnumber” which puts them into a playlist of songs like that.)
    I’ve got at least 50 types of comments. Eg. Covers. Instrumentals. Acoustic versions of heavy songs. Songs by rock bands with Orchestra in them. etc.

    If I get a compilation album or samplar, I reassign all the tracks to their original artists, I don’t deal with “Various Artists,” ever, with the sole exception of “Rebuilding The Wall.”

    If I only own a track or two by a band, it doesn’t come in the main alphabet, it comes later, after Z.

    If I got given the album by a friend or don’t count it as “my album” for some reason, it doesn’t come in the main alphabet, it comes later, after Z.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dude, I absolutely LOVE the extent you’ve gone to in order to keep your digital music organized. Truly, I’m in awe and I’m not exaggerating. I love this. I don’t go to THIS extent, but a lot of what you’re saying, I do too.

      “If I get a compilation album or samplar, I reassign all the tracks to their original artists, I don’t deal with “Various Artists.”

      DUDE! Me too. I have a few “various” albums that I do listen to all the way through because I like every song. For the ones where I only like 2 or 3, I stick them with the artist. When appropriate I’ll add them as a bonus track with the studio album they’re associated with.

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  6. As I stated above, I’ve a 120 GB iPod. And, it should be noted, I have been a Mac user since making the switch away from Winblows a long time ago. 8 years? More? But relax, I am not a fanatic, unless you want to talk about the frustrations of using Winblows (especially that piece of shit Winblows 8) versus the relative ease of using a Mac. Then you’ve got nothing. Seriously. And people who say “it’s too much of a learning curve, it’s all different blah blah blah” are talking without knowing. It took me 15 minutes, when I made the switch, and even then it was only that long because I was also getting a coffee and feeding the cats. It’s quite simple. And whatever beloved program you have on Winblows that isn’t on a Mac can be installed on a Mac without trouble (which is definitely not always true in the reverse, you’ll notice). It’s a non-issue, and if stability is your beef with Winblows, it’s a no-brainer. But anyway. Now you’re all gonna say “ooo listen to the Mac fanatic” but I’m not, and it’s just simple truth. You can use it or not when it’s presented to you, it’s your choice.

    iTunes is a real love/hate thing. There are times when I can’t stand it and want an alternative. It’s true, there are things about it that are not intuitive. I am in full agreement, on these specific things. Honestly, I think this is because they’ve expected that one program to do too much. They need to streamline it, strip away a lot of the extra features and make them independent, let iTunes be a media player only. They never will, but it would be nice.

    All of that said, my entire library is ripped to iTunes, and getting new music to the iPod couldn’t be easier. It’s set up to do it automatically. I don’t know for iTunes on Winblows, but there’s a check box on mine where you can choose to control your music transfers manually or allow iTunes to do it for you. I have to think on Winblows it’s the same. But even if you have it on manual, can’t you just drag the album you want to the iPod icon and drop it on top? I should think you could.

    I’ve had this iPod for several years and it’s been absolutely solid. It has my entire CD collection in it (over 33,000 songs) and it runs like a top. I was most excited a couple of years ago when we got a new (to us) car that had an AUX jack, so now I can run the iPod in the car. Life felt complete. I’d tried on of those FM tuners but it sucked for consistent strength. This AUX jack is the shit, I’ll tell you.

    So, I don’t know if I’ve added anything to your discussion or not. I like my Mac. I love my iPod. And I (mostly) am OK with iTunes. You’re free to disagree. But if you dislike Mac and the way it runs, that’s your choice. As with anything in life, sometimes you need to learn how to do something new if you want to use that new thing. It’s not effortless (though it’s near enough it’s indistinguishable, in this case). If not, carry on as you were. There’ll always be choices, and eventually there’ll be new options down the line, too.

    I’ve got no issue with my iPod or iTunes, at the moment.

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    1. You totally added to the discussion! Even though I’m anti-iTunes, I still wanted to hear everybody’s thoughts on the devices and software.

      I’m so happy with my Sony that I have no need to change anything. As long as Sony keep makin’ ’em, I will buy them. My only beef was that Sony does NOT make a portable stereo that you can nicely, neatly plug it into! Weird eh? Their stereos have an iPod docking station. No docking station for their own devices.

      So what I’ve done is connected it to my AUX-IN jack, and listen to my Walkman that way. It works great but why they didn’t build in a dock, I don’t understand.

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      1. The hubs is anti iTunes as well. Doesn’t even have an Apple ID or anything.
        I am not anti Apple prods but I prefer WinBlows and Android, thanks. lol

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        1. He built my gaming PC from scratch (and his…). He friggin had to learn how to code MS DOS in order for his dad to let him game on the computer back in the day. Yeah, it’s hereditary.

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        2. Damn, I wish I had that kind of computer knowledge.

          The other night I was over at my friend Sebastien’s place…he has a room that’s set up as a recording studio. That PC was a monster. He had three monitors side by side, and he was using every one. I was in awe at his whole setup.

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        3. Yup, an office I worked in in Montreal, the IT guy had several monitors all lined up, a switch to go between them. I don’t quite know how he did it (technically speaking, video cards, etc) but it certainly is possible.

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        4. The IT guy who works across the way at the office has 5 lined up. I don’t think they’re all connected to the same work station, mind you.

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        5. That brings back a memory…

          About 7 years ago I was working in United Rentals’ Kitchener office. Accounts Payable. One day I was the only guy working in the scanning room which was normally manned by 3 people. The computers were running so slow, that I had 4 or 5 of them going, and just rolling my chair from PC to PC! I’d do a task on one, and then instead of it waiting to save I’d go to the next PC, do a task, etc.

          My boss came in and saw this, and he was quite impressed with my setup but said I didn’t have to go to this extent and I could slow down :)

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      2. Well thanks, I was just putting a bit out there, people can take it or leave it as they see fit. I’m glad you like your Sony.

        I’m not all Mac over here, my cell phone is an Android HTC. I would have got the iPhone simply for connectivity to my Mac’s sake, though, if they hadn’t been so stupid expensive.

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  7. Loved reading all the replies from Mike and everyone else! From what I can tell, and how I feel, it’s a “to each, his own” situation when it comes to choosing a digital player and music synching application. I personally have had my music listening life changed by going All Apple Everything. Not that I wanna sound like one of those Apple Zombies, because there are plenty of problems I have with their products (hideously expensive, yearly upgrades that yield minor improvements, lack of a decent EQ setting on any of their DAP’s, iTunes purchases not available in a high(er) resolution, and their attempt to abandon optical drives in their laptops). That being said, about five years ago, my purchase of a MacBook Pro and a 120G iPod Classic was a total GAME CHANGER in my music listening as we careen through the early 2000’s!!! I still buy all my music on CD’s and encode them in Apple Lossless through iTunes on my MacBook and listen to them on my iPod Classic or iPhone 5s through an amazing set of WESTONE W4 in-ear earphones. For me personally, it’s a great way to go. Your mileage may vary, but for me, it works.

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    1. All things being considered, my earliest digital audio players were Windows/PC-based, had better sound, but were nowhere near as easy to use and intuitive as my iPod Classic/MacBook Pro set-up. Many hours/days/weeks were spent pulling what was left of my hair out as I tried to synch up some of my music library on the old Dell desktop into some 8GB Zune!!!

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      1. Zune was a failed attempt by Microsoft to market their own line of digital audio players, along with a Zune store to attempt to combat the iPod/ iTunes system. Since, you never even heard of it, you can only imagine that level of failure…

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        1. It is kinda crazy, I NEVER buy anything from iTunes. I still buy CD’s, and just encode them to Apple Lossless. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to actually hold tangible items when it comes to buying my music.

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    2. What’s really the cool thing for me personally is seeing how everyone has their own system that works for them. Everybody’s got their own system and it’s so fun for me to read.

      I fear that standalone mp3 players like mine might become a thing of the past. They are certainly getting harder to find.

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      1. I personally am gonna keep my hands on my collection of iPod Classic and my iPod Touch. I feel with the whole “Computer/Internet in my hand” access that a smartphone gives you is a little distracting from rocking out. Sometimes, I just want the TUNES, not twitter, e-mail, or dare I say it: checking LeBrain’s blog!!!

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  8. I used to hate the idea of iTunes and iPod. Had myself a nice little Zen Micro for such a long time. Then my brother asked if I was interested in his iPod as he picked up a new Touch version real cheap.

    Man, that’s when I knew it was the idea I hated. I love the iPod and the iTunes is nice and easy. Keeps all my music nice and organised and such likes. I can select what I want on there and remove stuff when I get fed up with it. Plus, it’s a nice 80G thing, so I’ve got all my essentials on there.

    Like

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