Super off topic. I'm sorry. I'm sure nobody asked, but I happen to hate the I-pod, and this is one of the many reasons. Now don't get me wrong, I don't really like RealNetworks any more than I like a poke in the eye, but I hate Apple even more. Here is the article
about Apple's newest gen I-pods and their fight to make sure you can't listen to anything but Apple's brand of music. I pretty much refuse to support Apple in any way because I don't agree with the way they sell their products, or themselves. Apple just pisses me off. Again, I'm sorry. And as far as the topic goes, I really think VBR MP3's is the way to go. And I like minidisc's too. ATRAC isn't that bad.
Interesting, but you can file this under "I don't give a shit". The reason being that if you download songs from either Real or iTunes, you are basically getting ripped off either way. Why? Because, you pay the same amount for a vast inferior quality of sound per song than you would with vastly superior CD's. Companies can use the catch phrase like "near CD-quality" or "like CD-quality" all they like, but lets face reality, "near" or "like" is not CD-quality, whether the format is .ram, mp3, AAC, etc... you get less bang for your buck when you purchase songs online. I find more honesty in copying a CD from a friend and mailing the artist / band / group / orchestra a dollar or two in cash then paying Apple / Real $.99 for a 128 AAC. It's not that Apples tactics are despicable; it's the entire industry's. Jon.