Last weekend, when the weather was almost surreally gorgeous (cool and sunny), I spent a day bicycling around the city and hanging out in various parks. During that time, I stupidly lost my mobile tunes setup, a Sansa Clip+ mp3 player and Klipsch Image S4 headphones. They're probably still lying there somewhere in the Düsseldorf Südpark, unless a magpie has already incorporated them into its nest.
To replace my mobile soundgear, I stuck with Klipsch, but decided to upgrade to the X10i in-ear headphones, which have an integrated remote control that only works with Apple stuff. So far, the sound quality, while predictably outstanding, is hardly distinguishable from the much-cheaper S4 headphones, but I haven't worn in my new ones. In general, though, Klipsch in-ears are head and shoulders above any others I've tried. Rich bass, beautifully distinguished mid-range, and crisp treble. But it's all pointless if the headphones aren't comfortable. Klipsch are specially designed to have an ear-friendly oval shape, and ship with a set of fully interchangeable ear-inserts in various shapes and sizes. You can easily switch until you find inserts that fit your ear. If you're just starting out, get the S4s. They deliver audiophile sound quality for 1/3 the price of the competition, and will probably be the only in-ears you'll ever need.
Now to my first-ever Apple product, an Ipod Nano. It gets rave reviews, looks beautiful, sounds beautiful, and isn't that much more expensive than the competition. Plus, it integrates with the remote control on the headphones cord, which is a huge plus. And, in fact, the Nano is a beautiful thing. Tiny, square, with a clear, bright screen, the famously intuitive controls, a solid clip, and excellent sound quality. But I have to say one thing: The fact that you must use iTunes to communicate with the Nano instantly claws back all of the user-friendliness. The no-frills Sansa Clip was so much easier: it showed up as a normal storage device, and you could just drag and drop audiobooks or music to the relevant folders, and the machine would automatically treat them accordingly. You have to spend hours navigating the hideous bloatware that is iTunes before you can reliably make sure you've put everything where you want it on the Nano. Nothing about iTunes works as you would expect it to, and workarounds to common problems are baffling and complex. Plus, you can only really manage the Nano with one computer. If you hook it up to another computer, the iTunes program on that machine huffily threatens to erase your Nano!
So, when it comes to the Nano itself, I have cautiously sipped the Apple Kool-Aid, and found it delicious. But when it comes to iTunes, I have spewed the Kool-Aid across the wall in a deadly crimson arc.