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Digitise My Life.
Bear with me on this one. I'm asking for advice but I think it could be a useful reference topic.

I am a hoary old dinosaur when it comes to entertainment media. Not only to I get music CDs, I actually pay money for them. How appalling. So I have ended up with several hundred CDs, a few hundred books, and some games.

Now I want to strip down my physical possessions and start transferring some of this to digital storage (and keep purchasing that in the future).

Thus I would like some advice on the matter:

Books: Kindle - seems to be surprisingly functional, but with a small screen. Is it limited to the small screen size? Is it easy to get all sorts of books for it? What is the overall experience like?
(Bal this might be one for you)

Music: Iwotever - as much as I loathe the idea of giving Apple a single penny towards their pompous fashion-driven bollox, I am assuming that I-blah is the best portable digital music option. I had a look, the new Nano seems to be pretty cool. What sort of options are there for storing music on these? Are the lossless / high quality formats worthwhile? I'm used to CD quality in general.
What are the options for listening in a car with only a normal CD player? Again quality is an issue.
How easy would it be to transfer a fuckton of CDs? Are non-mainstream albums generally available for release?
(Friction this might be one for you)

Games: I assume Steam is fine for everything these days??

Sham x
One Hoary Older Dino To Another... 
I also didn't want to go the iTunes route and I had around 250 LPs as well as a similar number of CDs to worry about. I used the built-in Window media player that was with XP (at the time) and used that to copy all of the CDs over a couple of weeks. It looks up album art automatically and I have never had any issues with it.

The LPs were a differnt story so I purchased some software and spent the best part of two years moving them to the HD. I also have an iPod but still use the Windows media player to do all the transfers - again, I bought some software to assist.

If your car CD player is not too old, you can just copy mp3 tracks to a writable CD (assuming that you have a CD writer in your PC) and play as normal. If you have an aux socket on your car stereo, you should also be able to connect any mp3 player by using the player's headphone socket with a cable suitable for your car's aux socket. If you are driving around in a fairly new (flash) car, you may already have iPod connections built in.

I have a number of portable mp3 players, and even though I am not an Apple fan, the iPod is pretty good at what it does. I have over 10,000 tracks, with album art for everything, and still have plenty of space left for more.

However, I also have my music backed up: one copy on the desktop, one copy on the iPod, one copy on the laptop, and a final copy on a backup HD (along with other data that I need to back up e.g. all my Quake maps and stuff) outside of the PC. Again, I use bought software to organise the backups.

I am now in the process of cataloguing my LPs ready to try an eBay sale.

Bit of a ramble, sorry about that. 
Kindle locks you in to buying books from Amazon -- usually they'll have pretty good deals but it's still a very unwelcome limitation and considering Amazon's questionable business practices (for instance, they've engineered their finances so that they don't have to pay any business tax in the UK, effectively allowing them to trample any competition) I'd advise either getting a Sony e-reader or a tablet which is much more versatile and could also solve your music dilema if you choose the right one.

iPods are well-made hardware but sadly Apple are as closed minded as Amazon when it comes to limiting their customers' choices to their own advantage. It would also require installing iTunes, which is the worst software in the world. Most Android smartphones can be used as a decent enough MP3 player if you install the right apps. 
Oh, And Another Thing... 
You can buy an FM device that takes a feed from the portable mp3 player, passes it through a small FM transmitter, which you then pick up on your car radio just like any other FM radio station - your mp3 player is effectively the radio station albeit that it happens to be inside your car.

The downside to that is finding a suitable FM frequency that is far enough away from other, more powerful transmissions, is not always easy. Also, as you travel around, you can move in and out of the range of stronger signals, which buggers up your mp3 player's signal. I found that it worked OK locally but when going on longer journies, I would have to regularly change frequencies to keep a clear signal. My particular FM player has 6 presets, which I have also programmed into the car radio, so it is not too bad.

That all probably sounds far more complicated than it really is. 
Nothing wrong with mp3s. MP4 is just mp3 with apple's arsehole attached. You can back your media up onto....


People have been doing it for years.

I Would Rather Stay Dinosaur 
i'm still one of those guy's who want cd's and dvd's of their games/music/movies.
Nothing wrong with it. 
i gotta go convert all my vhs cassettes... 
...should I convert my penis to an usb plug? 
If Quality Is An Issue, 
avoid mp3 at all costs! That said, I own Macs since more than 20 years. and my current iPod is a 4 yo 80gigs classic. Both iTunz on my cpu and the pod are packed with 800 albums. 4 years ago I've re-encoded/dlded everything in mp3 320kbps and got rid of everything else. Mp3 is not the best lossy format, but it's universal. 320kbps for quality. Avoid anything below. Use/check for CBR (constant bit rate)encodings. This is mandatory with gapless albums: the apple soap system doesn't stitch VBR (variable BR) files so well. It often results in sound glitches between songs or worse, it just stops playing at the end of a song due to bit rate difference between songs. Lossless and iPod is a nono. Although it may seem to play OK, the buffer size of the pod is too small to store big aiff or wav files. The pod becomes very unstable and stutters or stops when shaken a tad. Very bad in as a choice for car audio! Regarding this problem, Apple lossless (aac) provides better sound than mp3 and smaller size as aiff/wav, but is proprietary. Needless to say you can't use flac or ape with an ipod.

En r�sum�, I love my pod and I use it a lot: backpacking, camping, always in a pocket, easy to hook on whatever sound system to save the party, cool with earphones� TEH easy going music solution. But� if you're picky with quality and/or used to listen music on good audio gear or PA system, these mp3 will sound like crap. I'll add here a huge thumbs down about anything you can buy on iTunz: low bit rate encodings (you can't even check what encoding is used b4 buying!!), still crippled with DRM� long story short: a very expensive pack of BS for herds!

I'm a lossless lover. Flac or Ape are the most common (free) formats. You can play them as is, although you'll get the best sound quality once expanded to wav or aiff. Lossless files can be burn to CD on the fly (true mirrors of originals!). I currently have some 2000 lossless albums, all nested on a 2TB HDD together with my iTunz library. I use a small nifty free player, loaded with all type of AU plugins to route the sound through various small and bigger sound systems in my house. Cpu as the hub. Remote control software + cellphone�
Now when it comes to my van, I just love a big fat quality sound to drive with. My advice, stick to CDs! Run some parallel tests with an ipod� The difference will blatantly jump to your ears! Now, CDs are so cheap, easy and fast to burn� My car is rigged wit a CD charger full of copies. Lossless files stay home with my precious original CDs collection. CD copies are so cool. They're expendable and duh� even sound as good as originals!

En r�sum� de r�sum�: If the main criteria for you is smaller as possible, always at hand not so much nitpick about sound quality: go for a pod.
If sound quality is above all the deal for you but you're still concerned (a bit) about HDD space (even nowadays?), go for lossless or audio CDs.
And why not going for both?

Last word, iTunz is a big fat bulky mall for the masses. Still a necessary evil companion of a pod (3rd party pod managers are cool and required if you once want to transfer songs from your pod to someone else's cpu (iTunz doesn't allow that!!). The less you use it, the less you *upgrade* it, the better. Find a compatible iTunz version for your pod, then stick to it! ITunz behavior is for sure the most user-unfriendly I ever met on the Mac. Go figure! 
This is mandatory with gapless albums: the apple soap system doesn't stitch VBR (variable BR) files so well.
Thanks for this, I always wondered why it did this. :S
Gonna take ages to rerip everything. :\ 
if you want quality, use ogg vorbis. I am not saying that as lunix lunatic but because it is a fact that vorbis sounds better than mp3 at similar bitrate.

if you plan to transcode, use flac. if you must use mp3, use v0 or whatever you can hear (abx test).

if you think you can hear the difference between a good encoded vorbis or mp3 and the lossless source, make an abx test.

johnxmas does not seem to know anything if he suggests that a wav sounds different from a flac. lossless means lossless.

if you must have a ipod (god, why), put rockbox on it. otherwise I can recommend the sansa clip+ (with rockbox of course). it is tiny, light, cheap, you can stick SD cards into it, works as normal usb storage. I got 36gb in mine.

I would not rip myself but just download rips from somewhere to save time and ,energy.

I hear Amazon sells good music too.

those fm transmitters might suck and not work, depending on what you (uk regulations etc) 
rockbox plays gapless without problems. cbr is either a waste of space (at high bitrates) or a waste of quality (at low bitrates). 
Spirit, Playing Lossless File 
straight from it's format results in degraded audio. OK. maybe *degraded* is a huge word here, since not many human ears will notice the difference. But there it is: lossless format is compressed anyway: a regular lossless audio CD is some 1/3 smaller than the the original wav/aiff CD. Thus, when playing a CD straight from it's lossless compressed file form, the audio is decompressed on the fly. Which results is audio losses. These are quite neglectable, listening wise, nonetheless mesurable. And probably with various results depending on the software/player/gear. But, outside of this yes, lossless reveals it's full losslessiness (!) only when uncompressed in aiff/wav CD format.

Btw, other brands of walkpods or software may be able to play gapless VBR, however, this has always caused problems on iPods, afaik. Maybe recent models circumvent this. Necros, which gen model do you own? 
Ogg Vorbis, 
as a lossy format choice, sounds better as mp3 at similar bitrate yes. Moreover, it's a free codec. On the other hand, like flac, vorbis, is not as widely compatible as mp3. Another thing, doing my tests I remember having run into problems with Ogg Vorbis CBR, maybe corrected now.
Anyway, we're talking about some megs in a lossy audio world here, No big deal, if this can prevent any uncomfy listening moments... 
Let's Be Serious 
If Shambler wants to listen to music in his car, the quality of the recording is hardly likely to be an issue is it? Try engine noise, wind noise, tyre noise; his six kids in the back arguing about life, the universe and the merits of stealth versus all guns blazing in sixteen year old computer games. 
As you know i'm the same in terms of music fanatism, having 930CDs in my collection I got tired of looking for certain CD in those vast shelves just to listen to it. So i took and decoded ALL 900 CDs to flacs. This is lossless format, everything plays perfectly. I'm now converting my vinyls to flac too, so i play them less and save their lifes.

Just read that autoflac page for instructions, but basically all you need is Exact Audio Copy program and this autoflac script, it'll do everything for you.

ps. books - kindle, games - steam, no other options. 
Oh And 
to play all those 300Gbs of flacs I use excellent player it's light, easy to costomise and has no flaws at all.

ps. to convert all those 900CDs to flacs took 3 months of lazy copying and not every evening. 
Ah Ah, Good One Mike! 
but even with a bunch of shrieking vores playing ball on the backseat you'll instantly notice the difference between a CD and a pod-player (in hi and low-ends mostly, but overall clarity too) whatever the car audio system quality...

On the software side, whish we had Foobar2000 for Mac! Great app! The current sleek one for OS X is Vox. Not as sharpely refined as Foobar though... 
What Text_Fish says isn't true, you can buy from wherever you want with the Kindle, not only Amazon.
The screen isn't too small, it's quite perfect, and the device is really light and easy to carry around, I read it standing up in the subway, or even when waiting in line at stores or such.
Now that I have it I just want to get rid of my 200+ paper book collection.
Books are really easy to find, I haven't had any trouble finding anything I wanted to read (from amazon and other sources), and it's nice to not have to buy hardcover books for new stuff you'd want to read as soon as possible.

The other e-readers around are probably good as well though, but I haven't tried any of them.
I wouldn't suggest a tablet if all you want to do is read, it's more expensive, heavier, and the screens aren't as nice as e-ink. 
Yes, fully recommend one as well.

I haven't bought a single book from Amazon on it, and more than half the books I have are public domain - ie. free, downloaded from websites legally.

Don't bother with the fire, you want the eInk version, though if you want to read pdf then go for the touch version. The keyboard is fiddly and goes unused.

The free Wi-Fi sounds good, but I've never turned it on since it makes the battery drain quicker and have no use for it.

Finally, use Calibre for it - which is like iTunes but not a completely shitty waste of time.

Which brings me to portable music - fuck iPods. The machine itself is quite nice but the software is the worst I've seen since Windows Vista.

Why not just spend the money on a slightly nicer phone? 
Steam is great. 
Forgot The Link 
I'll throw my recommendation out there for Foobar2000 as well. Been using it for years! Fantastic no-fluff music player. 
Johnxmas: you are falling victim to confirmation bias. lossless means lossless. think of flac like zip or rar. what you compress loses no quality.

show me some research, test results, measurements.

willem, sorry to hear that. 
and the screens aren't as nice as e-ink.
That's the big appeal for me. It's like reading from paper, very easy on the eyes. 
As A Victim Of My Own Ears, 
I confirm I clearly hear a difference. I know it's a puzzling subject and I'm in no way interested to feed another bias/myth/controversial dialog about it. The internet is already full of people claiming they can hear something, meanwhile others just come with the plain facts, a straight tech approach and the undisputable proof on paper that lossless is lossless. Tests and measurements have been run with the same results: zero difference. At least nothing conclusive. Yet, some people, me included, can hear it.

Maybe I should have been less upfront affirmative in my previous posts and report those facts in the first place as results of my own experimentation. 
Thanks Guys. 
Some of that is really useful (haven't read all the music format arguing yet tho ;)). 
"Yet, some people, me included, can hear it."

No, you believe you can hear it. You want to hear it, so you do. If it makes you happier, then keep doing what you're doing. It's no skin off anyone else's back but it would be good to stop telling people that it makes a difference when it doesn't.

Lossless is called lossless for a reason. 
I Went In This Thread To Help And Contribute 
Not to argue. My several blind tests were conclusive. I leave all the rest to your fine and open minded ability to tell what you know about me and other people in my case. Shambler, you're welcome. 
There's really no argument. Hell, I even said that if you hear a difference, that's great. Do whatever sounds good to you. 
Simply True 
Hmm, Lossless 
I'm no electronics guy, but in theory, at least on portable devices, there could be interferences? Very unlikely that you could hear them though (if they even exist). I'd say it's bullshit.

- Fuck all the i- shit
- Foobar2k for windows is awesome. It's missing one thing though: the notation of an album. You cannot write a script that checks if you have all tracks of an album (at least i never figured out how to do it), because all foobar knows are individual tracks. (Which have album/total tracks tags of course, but this is not the issue here).
- sansa clip+ is indeed nice -- but my phone jack broke, which is a known problem. :(
- managing a large library is really really hard, despite discogs tagging (foobar plugin!), etc.
- If you dl rips, ensure that none of the mp3s are broken. Depending on your source, a lot of stuff that's going around is either completely broken or has broken mp3 headers (foobar check integrity/fix headers)
- Don't get stuff below 192 (and i tend to avoid those).
- on a mobile device quality doesn't really mattress.
- use flac for lossless. Has anyone tried ape? very exotic though?
- use the tool vondur recommended for ripping. 
Foobar2000 - To Elaborate On The Album Issue 
It only knows about files -- which naturally can have all sorts of tags -- but all operations work on files. So if you filter on something, say, album == 'Apostrophe', it goes over all individual tracks (in isolation) and shows those that have the album tag set to that string.

Now try selecting all albums that are missing a song -- there's no check that can be run on a single track alone to achieve that. E.g. if track 12 is missing, you cannot deduce this from track 1-11, even if they have total tracks == 12 set. 
Speaking of music, what do you guys use to download music?

I use soulseek, and rarely pirate bay if there's a discog. But downloading one song and album at a time takes a lot of time on soulseek, and pirate bay pretty fkn useless unless it's a fairly mainstream artist.

In terms of programs... TagScanner is fantastic for fixing tags. I never automatically tag anything, I do it manually with TagScanner. And then I use AutomaticPlaylistCreator to create my playlists:

I only just recently found this - until which time I had been manually playlisting each and every folder. It would take me hours. Now I can do 1000 folder with just a few clicks. 
What kind of weird player do you use? For tagging I use

As for music, uhm, enjoy this shuffled list of sites I follow through feeds: 
I just use winamp.

Feed sites are too time consuming as well. You can usually SLOWLY download 1 album at a time, and it's completely random what they decide to put up.

There must be some place where full archived discogs are traded? 
most of those are netlabels or single artists. all of them are free, creative commons or similar. since they are not brand new you can download all their previous releases if that is your way of discovery. most of them should easily saturate your downstream. the only thing time consuming would be finding music you like. but once you do, more similar stuff would be easy to discover.

these are sites/labels/artists I like, so I use feeds to follow their releases.


doesn't Winamp have a media library nowadays? 
Windows explorer is my media library. I'm old skool hehe.

Oh I'm not talking about free stuff Spirit lol 
There's only one place (or type of place) that springs to mind when you talk about dloading discographys. And I wouldn't write the links here. 
Oh I'm not talking about free stuff Spirit lol
Why? There is free music of any genre or style. 
Spotify costs like $5 a month and you get access to basically everything. That's my main music source these days. 
Digitize My Pix 
Anyone knows about a good and free avatar maker (from a given shot)? 
Just want to also massage Spotify's balls and say that the �10/month I pay for Spotify Premium basically gives me the best music experience I can imagine.

Even when wandering about town, I can do a search on my smartphone and listen to basically any album at 320kbps. If I'm about to go on the underground, I can get that album to download for offline listening in only a few minutes.

If I'm at a computer then the apps on the desktop client are amazing. I browse the Guardian Music app or the Pitchfork app, etc, and if I see something that looks cool, it's one click to add the whole album as a playlist. One more click to download it for offline. Plus I love the whole social aspect... probably got 50 facebook friends whose playlists and favourite tracks I can check out from the app. Plus I can send them tracks or collaborate on a playlist with them.

Well worth the cost of one album / month in my opinion. Downside is that not much money goes to the artist (source: my flatmate with tracks on spotify) so still feel obliged to see live / buy merch from artists I really like. 
Nice tecnhnical analysis of the Sansa Clip+'s audio quality:

I'm not aware of any other player, besides perhaps the larger Sansa Fuze, that can touch the Clip+ in terms of audio performance for anywhere near this low of price or offer similar features and performance in anywhere near as small of package.  
Do You Also Have Some Headphone Recommendations For Travel/commute/et? 
Anything with Dr.Dre's amazing Beats technology because you can really hear a difference. 
If anyone is in the market for new earphones, this set of reviews is bad ass. Hope he got his PhD for this:

TL;DR beats are the best and they make you look real cool 
Thanks A Bunch! 
that's most awesome 
And I Ordered.. 
Mp3 Player 
i went through digitizing my music colection last month and 320kbit mp3 + cowon audio9 + koss porta pro work just fine. i had some crappy low-cost teak player and i wanted something better. due to my attitude towards apple ianything wasn't an option. i'm no isheep :-).
i love debates about flac/mp3/vorbiss/original cd/burned cd sound quality. i know people who claim they hear the difference between cd and flac on pc with onboard soundcard + genius speakers for 50$. i want to be that special too someday...
jakub (not a modder/mapper, just dedicated q1 freak) 
You know what's just as annoying as Apple lovers? Apple haters. :)

Use whatever device fits your life best. For me, that's Apple products. Might not be for you. 
True Dat 
I Hate 
Most hardcore nerds do. 
Transferring vhs -> digital
You just play the videos and record them I guess? I'm thinking this could takes months as it would tie down the machine doing the recording. 
really? i thought i was the only 1 that disliked all i products. although the ipad does look cool, it's not something i'd ever really need. 
i'm sorry, i didn't want to offend apple people... it's just that i don't see apple as an electronic gadget manufacturer. from my experience with istuff user round me, apple is sort of a religion for them and sometimes it even borders with brainwashing. i just don't want to be part of it - it's my personal thing.
not to mention the unbelivable prices of ithings here in czech. post communist central europe is a crazy place to live. completely ordinary goods are being sold as a luxury and people here still think that eg. beneton/cac/etc are really extraordinarily super-quality brands worth the absurd prices. for me, apple is just next in this line. 
Fuck that. Try an Apple device. If you don't like it, fine, but I think you will. 
And I don't mean to come off as some sort of staunch Apple supporter - I have Android devices as well - it's just that I dislike the writing off of Apple devices and the insulting of people who like them for no real reason. The "cult" and "religion" crap is annoying and for the most part, untrue.

Look at Quake, for example. It could be argued that there are people on this site who love Quake as much as the people you talk about love Apple. But nobody is insulting them, are they?

Every company has rabid fans but when you get past that, you'll find that the Apple devices really are excellent pieces of hardware. My iPhone has replaced every electronic device in my life - it's my phone, my GPS, and my music player. It's everything in one device and it does it all wonderfully.

You don't have to wear a white robe and chant to use an Apple device. 
my Android did the same. the iPhone is nothing special (apart from being locked so badly). from my experience Apple stuff does few things but it does those things well enough for complete newbies to be usable. at the terrible price of bring locked into their ecosystem pretty much (which is fine if you don't care).

I know someone who likes insulting quake fans but I dare not speak his name since func is better off without more drama. ;) 
i know willem... but i explicitly wrote: "it's my personal thing". i'm not trying to convince you or anybody else here. i admit that even apple users deserve live-and-let-live approach :-)).
back to the original topic. all i wanted to do was sharing my experience with portable mp3 player. if shambler or you or anybody are looking for a decent mp3 player with excelent sound quality, cowon is a brand definitely worth considering. 
Hey, I apologize, I'm not trying to start drama. It's just that people calling Apple fans, and by extension me, brain washed rubs me the wrong way. Like I didn't do any research before buying or I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just blindly following which is not true.

It's insulting, that's all.

And again - the Apple haters are every bit as annoying as the Apple zealots. Truth. :) 
Lol Yea Spirit An Android Phone Is Just As Good As An Iphone 
*puts phone in pocket*
*front bezel falls off* 
Think Of It Like This 
android:iphone::fischer price:iphone 
My Main Beef With Apple Is The Whole Mp4 Thing 
An mp4 is just an mp3 with Apple attached at the waist IMO. I mean Apple could have just made it so their website (itunes) sold mp3s. But they wanted to trap their customers into having to buy iDevices to view/listen to their media (or special software).

But at the end of the day if you are getting the music you want, where and when you want, at a price you find acceptable, then more power to you sir! 
'Android' is an OS. Not a phone. You've got all sorts of different companys making andriod phones. Some are going to be better than others. If you buy cheap tat, you get cheap tat. 
I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself! 
The Subtext Being All Android Devices Are Cheap Tat 
"But at the end of the day if you are getting the music you want, where and when you want, at a price you find acceptable, then more power to you sir!"

And you can do it without calling other people brain washed sheep! So nice... 
yeah this whole itunes thing is such a giant shit. its great that it makes buying music online easy, but to be trapped into playing it on their own i devices? it's amazing that it actually took off, i guess because no other company came along with a good alternative that used mp3s and was openly compatible.

i will never, EVER, buy something on itunes to support apple.

the extreme prices and having to buy all sorts of retarded, pointless apps is another thing to put me off iphones. i don't know what other os's are like though, i still have a non-smart phone :) 
Some quick points:

a) the music you buy through the store doesn't have DRM on it anymore, so copy it and play it wherever you like

b) There are lots of free M4A->MP3 convertors available if your device won't play M4A

c) There really aren't any apps you HAVE to buy. The phone works fine "as is" for most people. But people buy apps because, well, they're fun! And useful... :) I make it a general rule not to buy the "retarded, pointless" apps. Those seem like a waste of money. 
I Love It 
czg is implying that Apple is the only company that makes good phones? 
Nokia 3210 > Iphone > Windows Mobile > * > *.android 
Try not to be such a fucking sheeple Ricki22 
Does it hurt to troll that hard or have you become desensitized? 
A Little From Column A A Little From Column B 
Htc One X 
is fucking awesome. eats the iphone for breakfast 
And Anyone Who Disagrees 
is quite clearly wrong, for the simple reason that my phone is better than your phone. i'm afraid that is something you are just going to have to get used to. 
No... I Disagree... 
... my phone is better than yours.... and I have an iPhone you damned retarded

Having say that, apart from comparing performances, the only thing that counts is user experience... and so far, I've never seen any other mobile being better than iPhone..

Hence purely subjective opinions over pass objective opinions... though.. 
Its In The Name 
android just sounds much more quaky, easy choice. (i got a LG) soem silly voice in my head tells me if you get small electronic devices buy asian crap, if you want oversized cars wich use more fuel then they do miles, buy US. Having said that got to check if my phone is charged, but i geuss thats kind of a problem with all smartphones they should release nuclear powered ones. Without any jokes: I dotn think there is a big difference anymore apple probably had the leading I-edge when the whole smart mumbo jumbo started rolling but i think there isnt much difference anymore (atleast with the big brands). Personaly i try to avoid getting the newest stuff to avoid start up trouble 
We Should Change This Thread Name To 
"The iSheep vs The Andriods" 
I dotn think there is a big difference anymore apple probably had the leading I-edge when the whole smart mumbo jumbo started rolling

You mean when Apple invented the market? Yeah, they had a nice leading because, well, they invented the fucking market! Before the iPhone, there simply was no smart phone with a comparable user experience. They were all shit, Blackberrys included. Shit hardware, shit apps, shit interfaces.

Today, I'll say that feature wise, iPhone and Android are roughly on par. Even the hardware is (btw, did you notice that the good android handsets are pretty much as expensive as the iPhone?). But I'd say that the user experience on the iPhone is still much better than on any Android phone I have tried so far. They just don't get it right over there, I don't know why! Ugly icons, no coherence, badly structured menus... you name it.

And I'm sorry, but for me, the user experience is the tipping point. I don't want ugly, illogical OSs in my life. That is, until Apple locks non-App-Store apps out of Mac OS X. Then I'll switch to Ubuntu ;-). 
No Flamebait, Genuinely Interested 
This is this derailed already, there is one question I always wanted to ask. On iOS the back button is in the top left. I usually use my phone one handed and on Android the back button is on the bottom right. I can easily press that with my thumb. I have a rather awkward movement to press the upper left. What do you iPhone users think of that? Is the move comfortable for you? To me it always felt like a really bad UI/UX choice and I can't think how it is the "proper place". 
Those weird toggle buttons. I can never tell if I have to press them to make them toggle what they currently read (that would be logical to me) or if what they say is what they are set to. Are those kind of buttons normal in the USA maybe? They are/were an alien concept here. 
I never use the back button, but with the current size of the iPhone screen iit's easy to reach in the upper left. Maybe not if you have smaller hands.

Dunno what your gripe with the toggle buttons is. They are checkboxes. Their label doesn't change. When they are on, pressing or sliding them sets them to off, and vice versa. They are on when their handle is on the right and theor color is blue. Such buttons exist on all kinds of machines and devices. It's not alien at all. 
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