I was at the gym last week and my 30GB MP3 player fell out of my locker and died. It has a hard drive and I'm guessing that it got damaged because after the fall it would freeze while booting up and I could hear the hard drive repeatedly thunking as it was trying to read data. Oh well...
So Saturday I headed off to Fry's to see if I could get an inexpensive Flash based player. Since Apple's IPod owns more than 70% of the market that was out of the question. Plus, the IPod locks me into one solution, ITunes, and I don't like it. I ended up walking out of the store with a pretty simple looking 2GB Creative Zen V Plus. I've since been pretty surprised at how capable such a small device can be.
It's small enough that I can hang it around my neck on a lanyard and forget that it is there. About half of the front is a nice color OLED display that can display photos and videos. It also has an FM radio built in that works really well. It has a miniature joy stick for navigating the menus and fast forwarding and skipping tracks. It has two buttons for pause/play and getting to the menus. The volume buttons are on the side. I haven't had to crack the owner's manual because it is all very intuitive and easy to figure out. Once I installed the software Napster immediately recognized it and I was able to download my music without problems.
Now for the best part. I decided to give Audible a try. Audible is a web site that sells recorded books. For $15 a month you get one book a month plus pretty steep discounts on additional books. I signed up for a 3 month half off trial period. The first title that caught my eye was Richard Dawkin's "The God Delusion" so I cashed in my credit and downloaded it. I was easily able to put it on my Zen and I listened to it on my three hour run yesterday.
I have to admit I'm hooked. Listening to a book sounded like a better way of passing the time than listening music. After a while I start hearing the same songs over and over again even with over 6000 in my library and they stop distracting me. But the time flew as I listened to Dawkins and some other woman read the book. The time passes quite quickly when you are enjoying a very engaging and thought provoking book.
Others have recommended Dawkin's book and now I know why. The book is just brilliantly written and it seems like hardly a paragraph goes by that doesn't have something that is very quotable. One of the nice features of the Zen is that is has book marks. The book is split into two large files, but when you're ready to stop you just save a bookmark and you can later resume listening right where you left off. So I'm looking forward to catching up on my reading while I train and commute back and forth to work.