After the faff that I had with the two year foray into the world of minidiscs it was early January 2005 when I decided that the Christmas hours/bonus that I had earned up meant that I would spend essentially all my money on an MP3 player. Here's something I remember being told - my dad, upon starting my first job, told me to keep my first ever payslip to enable me to compare it to what I would be earning later in life to remind me just how little I earned. This rang true and I still have that first payslip (seriously) and I still have all my P60s. Want to know how much I earned the very first time I worked? just shy of £3.69 an hour, and I took home just over £168 for the month.
So how much was my next media player? £168.99 in 2005 (which is £226 in today's cash).
Creative Zen Touch 20Gb
This is flat out my favourite media player I have ever had. I bought it at the height of the iPod's reign for a few major reasons, the most obvious being it was a lot cheaper. The other being... yep, it just wasn't an iPod. It look different, had a slightly different way of working, and had a better battery. I also remember at the time liking the fact it wasn't Apple's behemoth just because it wasn't an iPod - everyone had an iPod (that one they used to call the Classic) and it made sense for me to get this one.
The thing is bulky and heavy but nothing more than anything else at the time. It had a touch pad rather than a click wheel that worked much the same way and sound on board blew my wee MiniDisc player out of the water. And 20Gb! Oh my goodness...
20Gb was essentially going from being able to take five steps to being able to smash a full marathon. I remember the first time I connected the device to my PC - i lterally grabbed my music and just dropped the entire folder onto the device. Indeed, 20Gb today is still loads - memory is somewhere we've stalled on portable devices due to size constraints, with my phone stuck at 16Gb right now (10Gb usable, natch). However there was one final feature that made the Touch an absolute classic - Napster.
No, not Napster the free download system (by the time I started using MP3s that was already dead, replaced by Kazaa and about to be supplanted by Torrents) Napster the pay to stream and download service. Long before Spotify came along and changed the way we listened to music, I was already listening to music in a different way - I paid £9.99 a month for unlimited downloads to my MP3 player - I didn't own any of the music, of course, but I did have it to play for up to 30 days before I needed to resync the music. Does that sound familiar? It was called Napster to Go and it was basically Spofity. I found it hard to explain to people that I was listening to music I didn't own, a concept that everyone gets now.
The Zen Touch was, like the first few media players I owned, utterly bomb proof but suffered one affliction the older models didn't - it's rechargeable battery, once lasting over 3 days, used to drain down within a bus journey to uni, and by the time of the summer of 2006 I had a summer placement that paid me upwards of £4k, and using that money I decided to move out (and as a by-product launch this blog) and buy my last ever dedicated portable music player.
The Zen Touch was and is the best I ever had.