Player may be enough for task at hand



November 12, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the best portable MP3 music, using a Windows PC, should I go with the Nomad Jukebox 6G or wait for a PC version of iPod?

Maybe I can save you a couple hundred bucks by suggesting an alternative to those elegant devices you are eyeing in the wake of Apple's widely covered introduction of the iPod music player.

I would suggest that you might be looking at the wrong strategy for using computer-generated music files for portable listening by focusing on either Creative Labs' Nomad for Windows or Apple's sleek new iPod. These two devices are decidedly high-end items. They amount to portable hard drives of about 6 gigabytes capable of holding many hours' worth of compressed music files.

Both have applications for computers beyond just music playing. But the Nomad and the iPod also might be far more sophisticated than required for the task at hand - letting the user listen to a lot of music while on the run.

For those of us who own a CD recording drive, it seems a better idea to get one of the new MP3 CD players such as the $100 RioVolt SP90, rather than plunk down the $300 to $400 for a portable hard drive. The SP90-type devices look exactly like regular CD music players, and they play store-bought music CDs as well as computer-generated ones. A typical CD-R can hold about 250 MP3 files, or 500 tunes in the Windows WMA format, enough for 10 to 20 hours of uninterrupted music.

Recently, you wrote about downloading the WinZip program ( I followed the instructions on the Web site, downloaded the program, but, when I got to the final setup window, an error message popped up and it won't go away. I am running Windows ME.

It is great that you are running Windows ME, because that means you can use Microsoft's System Restore feature to take your computer back to the exact state that it was in before that nasty interlude with WinZip kicked in.

To restore your computer to a point before the WinZip problem set in, click on Start and Programs and Accessories and System Tools. In the next menu you will find System Restore, which displays a list of points in the past when your machine was working fine. Select the most recent one before your WinZip problem occurred. You then can try installing WinZip again or use another program for unzipping such as PKZip at

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached via e-mail at jcoates@tribune. com.

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