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All posts tagged "itunes"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

iTunes New Video Encoding Compares Favorably To Blu-ray

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:00 PM

"Ars was recently able to conclude that the newly launched iTunes movies encoded in 1080p do, in fact, look better than the same content encoded in 720p, despite the modest increase in file size. That's good news for iTunes customers. But the real question is: how do iTunes 1080p downloads compare to the reigning king of home video image quality-Blu-ray Disc (BRD)? This is what we set out to test."

With the recent announcement of the new iPad, Apple also launched iTunes movies encoded in 1080p. This was welcome news for many video enthusiasts. Many questioned, though, just how good the video and audio encoding would turn out to be, especially compared to Blu-ray. Ars Technica resources were up to the task of examining this question, and their report indicates the encoding is pretty good indeed (video, at least) although it is not quite as good as Blu-ray. The Read link has the complete story.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Music Stores Compared

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 PM

"Each music store is a little different. This showdown is all about the music stores that these companies offer-not their respective players, applications, or services. We can't help but mention them in terms of usability and integration with the store and the user experience, but we're going to try and focus on the features of the stores and steer clear of the bugs or quirks of each player."

Online music stores have garnered attention of late for a number reasons, including the recent launch of the new Google music store. Lifehacker has done another nice job comparing products, this time focusing primarily on the iTunes store, the new Google store and the Amazon music store offerings. If you are outside of the US you may not even have access to all of these stores and their related services, but the review is still useful as you get a feel for what the offerings encompass, and in the future you may indeed get to use them. There is something unique, positive, and negative about each store. The Read link will provide that insight for you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

(Re)Discovering Music - A Guide For Today's Options

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:00 PM

"Luckily internet services abound for discovering, trying, and buying new music. Unfortunately, your choices can be a little overwhelming, not all tools fit your needs, and few of them actually integrate with one another. Here's how to work new music into your life in a post-MP3 age, from discovering it to integrating it into your library."

Discovering new music and artists is one of the real joys of life. If you're like me, you may get frustrated from time to time when you hear a song while driving, working, or otherwise focusing on an activity that is not the music itself and wonder who the artist is and what the name of the song is. Often, before you figure it out, it's gone. You may also be spending some time exploring music on the web or on conventional radio or satellite radio, and find that it's a tedious, non-scientific, endeavor. Fortunately, with a little planning and experience, you can leverage all kinds of music resources, tools, and repositories, and experience that wonderful feeling of finding a great song. Lifehacker has put together a three-step process for effectively exploring the world for music using present-day options: discovering music you like, on-demand streaming, and buying. If music is a big part of your life, read this posting and take advantage of the options available to us these days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Digital Convenience Price Threshold?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

In the tug of war between atoms and bits, how much does it take to sway you one way or another? Digital download or buying DVDs - which way do you roll? I bought the first episode of "Breaking Bad" on iTunes a few weeks ago, watched it yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since I don't currently have an active account (it's a DVD rental service) I'd be looking at buying Breaking Bad season one. How do the numbers work out? Read more...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Did Digital Kill the Radio Star?

Posted by Todd Klein in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

"The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group based in London, said last week that sales of music in digital form had risen only 6 percent worldwide in 2010, even as the overall music market had shrunk 8 percent or 9 percent, extending a decade-long decline. In each of the past two years, the rate of increase in digital revenue has approximately halved. If that trend continues, digital sales could top out at less than $5 billion this year, about a third of the overall music market but many billions of dollars short of the amount needed to replace long-gone sales of compact discs. “Music’s first digital decade is behind us and what do we have?” said Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Not a lot of progress. We are at one of the most worrying stages yet for the industry,” he continued. “As things stand now, digital music has failed.”

The New York Times reports this astonishing indictment of an industry that's produced iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Lastfm and several other services with millions of engaged worldwide users. Yes, digital killed the CD business by undbundling songs from albums, and by extension struck a fatal blow to bricks and mortar music retailers. Yes, piracy is a problem that must be managed if artists are to be supported. But to declare that an entirely new medium, digital delivery of music, has failed because the established players have suffered economically while consumers have experienced a technology tsunami of music discovery, sharing, choice, and purchasing models seems to put the cart before the horse.

Tell me, has digital killed your music experience?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Use Dropbox To Sync Your iTunes

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:00 PM

"If you run iTunes on multiple devices, chances are you've had trouble keeping your libraries in sync. Maybe you've even tried Dropbox but ran into syncing conflicts. Here's how to sync iTunes with Dropbox problem-free, on Windows or Mac. Aside from the benefit of having all your iTunes media in sync and backed up, you gain a lot of additional conveniences by syncing your music library using Dropbox. Most of these conveniences will help you get more from your smartphone or mobile device. If you have any mobile device that has an official Dropbox app available (currently that means iOS, Android, and Blackberry), you can access all of your iTunes media directly from your device without the need to sync. If you have an iDevice device, you'll no longer be restricted to syncing it with a single machine."

If you're and iTunes user the you will probably have experienced the hassles of sharing music between multiple devices. This interesting article from Lifehacker has a very nice guide on how to use Dropbox to sync between devices instead. As it mentions above you'll also get the benefit of having your music backed up in the cloud as well, which is handy should something happen to your PC/Mac/iPod.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Do iTunes Alternatives Stack Up?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 02:30 PM

"Is iTunes still the most expensive digital music service? Which iTunes alternative offers the best deal for music lovers? Are digital albums a better deal than CDs? And just how much are you overpaying if you buy by the track instead of by the album? Those are the questions I set out to answer in this, the third installment of my "iTunes alternatives" series. My previous installments were in April 2009 and April 2010, and I had planned to wait until April of next year to revisit this turf. But so much has happened in the digital music space this year that I just couldn't wait. And there will probably be a whole new set of changes to look at by next April anyway."

Image Credit

Wondering how the likes of Amazon, Napster, Zune, and others stack up against iTunes in terms of pricing, availability, and other factors? Check out Ed Bott's article to find out more. Personally, I buy my MP3s from or HMV Digtial (in Canada) depending on who has the lower price. You?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can You Still Watch Your Favorite TV Series if You Ditch Cable?

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Ever wonder if, for just your favorite shows, it might be smarter to get an iTunes or Amazon season pass? Pondering which shows you'd have to give up if you canceled cable? We compiled a big chart of answers for you.... The choosing was totally subjective, although we tried to keep an open mind about popular taste. We included online alternatives including Amazon Video on Demand, iTunes, Hulu and its $9.99/month Hulu Plus service, Netflix (in streaming form only), and network sites often accessible through a site like (and its neat apps on platforms like Boxee)."

If you are thinking about dropping your "Cable TV" service - whether delivered via traditional cable, satellite or fiber - Lifehacker has published a useful chart that lists a fair number of popular television series and whether they can be obtained from various alternative delivery services, and at what cost. This is a popular idea right now, especially with the introduction of Google TV (which is not included in the Lifehacker article) and Sony's Internet TV models. One of the our local newspapers even ran an article this week entitled "Is This the End of Cable?" which provides brief overviews of several "set-top boxes" and the networks they provide access to. Have you tried ditching your cable TV service? And, if so, how well has the experiment worked?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Online Music Stores - Which Do You Use?

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM

"iTunes is still king with over two-thirds of the online music market according to NPD, but Amazon is solidifying its #2 status with prominent position on Android devices. The latest NPD data has iTunes at 69.9%, Amazon at 11.6% and Zune, Walmart, Napster and Rhapsody all coming in at 1-2% for the Jan-March calendar year."

The latest NPD data has some interesting stats about the current state of online music and where we as consumers are buying it from. Still top is iTunes with a market leading 69.9% followed by Amazon with 11.6%. This is obviously quite a gap and Apple have really cornered the online music store market up to now making it difficult for others to get as much market share. However, according to the NPD data this seems to be changing as Android devices become more popular. Amazon have a tie in with Android which sees the Amazon MP3 store featured on new Android devices which may be why their market share has increased by 4% last year, compared with iTunes at 1%. Which makes me wonder, does the device you use to listen to music influence where you buy your music, or is it simply that there is more choice now compared with when iTunes exploded on to the market?

iTunes DRM Sticks it to Another User

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM

iTunes account gets hacked. Credit card company notes the activity and initiates a dispute with Apple.

"This is where it gets really nasty. Apple closed the compromised iTunes account and de-authorised all his purchases – not only the ones the fraudster grabbed, but everything he had bought over a period of 6 years."

The user ended up giving up without getting a resolution. They'd upgraded much of their material to the non-DRM version through iTunes Plus and after hitting one too many roadblocks decided it wasn't worth pursuing getting the rest of their paid for media released. Just goes to reinforce my practice of not buying any thing that I don't fully own. I've never purchased from iTunes and 99% of my on-line music purchases have been through Amazon's music store.

Tags: software, itunes, drm, evil

Friday, March 19, 2010

MP3 Downloads: Amazon or iTunes?

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:30 PM

"...I heard a song that I liked a lot.... The next day I was thinking to myself that perhaps the rest of the album was worth getting.... So I went over to iTunes I saw that it was available for $9.99.... [But] I... discovered that it was available on for a good bit less...."

Dan Cohen at GearDiary has done a small comparison of MP3 album prices between Amazon and iTunes. His article points out some interesting differences between the two sites, such as albums having differing number of tracks, which certainly surprised me! He concludes that Amazon was the less expensive retailer, at least for the titles he compared. Frankly, I have never downloaded an MP3 album, as I still prefer a "hard copy" (a CD, or LP...), but for those of you who have, is Amazon or iTunes your vendor of choice? And is price the only important distinction between the two? Or are there other retailers which offer even better bargains or other advantages?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Music Organization: Which Application Wins?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:30 PM,0

MaximumPC has done an interesting side by side comparison of the big three options out there for music organization on your home PC. To be honest, most people will have a hard time really making much of a selection based on the software and are far more likely to be choosing based on what their device of choice is. In the case of the iPod and Zune, we’re mostly tied to using the software designed for it.

But if you don’t like your options with your current software solution, it’s certainly not impossible to use a different program to manage your media and a different one to load your player. The three that MaximumPC looks at are iTunes (of course), Zune, and Songbird. Read more...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

doubleTwist and Amazon Double up on iTunes

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 03:12 PM

"DoubleTwist, the media management software created by Jon Lech Johansen - a.k.a. "DVD Jon" - is teaming up with in its bid to create an alternative to Apple's iTunes. Start-up DoubleTwist makes software designed to help users of devices other than Apple products, such as BlackBerry and Android phones, to organize and keep track of their music. Starting immediately, the DoubleTwist software will now let people buy music files from Amazon's MP3 store in a more seamless fashion that replicates the iTunes experience by essentially integrating the Amazon store right into their software."

Do you download music? Have multiple devices, and / or non-Apple devices? Or simply like the thought of buying from the Amazon Music Store better than from iTunes? If so, doubleTwist would like you to give its software a try.

Their website,, promises they are "open to any device, content, or network," their list of supported devices is impressive, and the download is free. The music, alas, will still cost a few dollars - and it appears that you need a "valid US billing address and a credit or debit card" for buying from the Amazon music store via doubleTwist. Does this look like a real iTunes challenger? What other options are available?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Music is for the Birds and Bees. Songwriters want Money.

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Songwriters, composers, and music publishers are lobbying Congress to legislate the payment of performance fees into downloaded music. If music publishers get their way, they'll be able to extract additional licensing fees from music downloads, movies, and TV shows containing their music, and even 30-second previews."

Times are tough. And when times are tough, people start looking for ways to make as much money as possible. Songwriters and publishers are targeting adding more fees to digital downloads. The sticking point is that they believe that downloads should be put under the umbrella of public performances, for which they would get an additional fee to the synchronization and mechanical licensing fees they already receive. The music industry already provides a minefield full of regulations and fees so it's no wonder that there is a conflict on what fees should be charged for what. Ars Technica is right, in that the world of music distribution and use has changed considerably and that laws need to be updated to reflect it. I also have the additional concern about the balance between those involved in music creation and the cost to consumers. Creators, be it songwriters, publishers, singers, etc, should get paid for their work, but at the same time, costs should not run up so high that consumers start looking for alternative ways to acquire their music.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reactions of a Zune Fan to the September 2009 iPod Announcements

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:33 PM

Because I'm sitting here watching the superb gdgt coverage of the Apple iPod event, I figured I might as well multi-task and jot down some point form reactions and thoughts on what I'm reading. It's important to understand what "the other guys" are up to - that's the main reason why I bought an iPod Touch earlier this year; I wanted to understand how the App Store worked, to see how good the browser was, and to get experience using the on-screen keyboard. Here are my reactions to today's Apple event, in chronological order:

  • Good to hear Steve Jobs is healthy - organ donation is so important. I've signed my organs away if something happens to me, and you should too. If you're dead, they won't do you any more good, so why not share?
  • 1.8 billion applications downloaded - that's a huge, impressive number. Apps matter. Microsoft has always said that software matters, but they've historically done a poor job of showing that on Windows Mobile and the Zune. They're finally getting rolling with a Windows Mobile app store, but apps on the Zune are still a bit of a question mark. Sure, we've had a couple games since the last generation units, but no cohesive plan on Microsoft's part to roll out a Zune games store, or to sync up with what the Xbox guys are doing.
  • iTunes is in 23 countries. The Zune Marketplace is in one. Microsoft's US-centric approach with the Zune is maddening...I thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel when they launched the Zune in Canada last year, but we never got the Zune Marketplace here, and now the devices being sold here are being killed off. "Disaster" is a good word for how well the Zune launch went in Canada. Between the Zune HD being US-only at launch, and all of the IP-based geographic blocking madness that the Zune software and Web site does, it's like the Zune team is doing everything they can to alienate everyone in the world outside the US. More after the break. Read more...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Can Someone Explain iTunes To Me?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:41 PM

Everyone tells me how wonderful and easy it is to use iTunes (OK, mostly Janak Parekh), but it must have been designed for people smarter than I am - I installed iTunes on a different computer and wanted to sync my iPod Touch with it. I had iTunes installed on my software testing computer, which has since been wiped out, so I need a permanent home for iTunes. Here's the problem I'm running into:

I've set it up to manually sync everything, because it seems if I don't do that, iTunes will wipe everything out on the iPod Touch. In iTunes, when I go FILE > TRANSFER PURCHASES, I get the above error message. You might be thinking "OK, your computer hasn't been authorized" - but it has. The screenshot below shows that. Read more...

Friday, May 22, 2009

YouTube Promoting iTunes Songs for Sale

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:00 AM

I don't know how long YouTube has been doing this, largely because I don't use YouTube as a music discovery service very often, but I think this is a great idea. From what I can tell, it doesn't look like the video I saw this in was an official Tokio Hotel account - it looks like a fan upload. Instead of YouTube taking out their heavy copyright club, they instead use it as a promotion for people to buy the song. Clever move! Rather than turing the fans into "copyright criminals", YouTube (and the copyright holders) are taking this opportunity to turn this into an opportunity to sell people the song. This is the way it should be done. Bravo YouTube!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

iTunes to Vary Pricing And Go DRM Free

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 AM

"Under the new pricing scheme, most music tracks will still cost $0.99, but labels will be able to charge $1.29 for selected tracks—mostly hot new releases—and offer discounts of $0.69 on older library tracks."

iTunes is going to go through two significant changes in the coming months. Pricing is no longer going to be a $0.99 a song setup, with prices ranging from $0.69 to $1.29. I really hope that the record labels won't do what I would expect them to do, which is noting any song that's selling and put it in the $1.29 tier. Overall, I'm not sure whether this will be good for the consumer or not, but I can't think that the labels would push for variable pricing so much if they didn't see more profit in it for themselves. What is more notable to me is that by the end of the quarter, it is expected that iTunes music will go DRM free! While it seems the vast majority don't mind being locked down to specific devices, I think it'll just drive more traffic to the iTunes store with everyone now able to listen to their library on any device they want.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Want Quicktime? Apple Forces You to Install iTunes to Get It

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Over the years Apple has slowly but surely encouraged the installation of their software in bundles. It used to be that you could find the installation of Quicktime itself quite easily; then Apple started to make the default install file for Quicktime include iTunes. They still offered Quicktime by itself if you looked hard enough on the download page, so it wasn't a big deal - until now. Read more...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking For An Alternative To iTunes? BIOS Magazine Reviews Songbird 0.5 Media Player

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:00 AM

"If you’re still using iTunes or Windows Media Player you should be ashamed of yourselves. Songbird is one of the most flexible desktop media players or ‘jukeboxes’ you’ll ever use, plus it has a uniquely open approach to Internet digital media network services. What’s so great about Songbird (which is officially still in Beta), is that it’s completely open source and tons of developers are continually creating add-ons and updating features. Bug fixes are sorted quickly too, unlike Apple and Microsoft who generally wait until the next major release of their players."

I use Winamp to play most of my music, and iTunes to organize and synchronize with my iPod, but Songbird looks like it could be a great replacement for both of these players (except that it doesn't support video yet). It appears to have some great "Add-ons" though which add functionality, plus the interface is skinnable and looks very clean. I've tried Songbird in the past and had some problems with persistent crashing, but it might be worth checking out again. The latest version is up to 0.6 alpha, so check it out and post your thoughts on this alternative media player.

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