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Apple products are generally more expensive than their competitors. Although the overall user experience of Apple products is better, most people are price sensitive. Which means Creative, Sandisk and the likes still have about 20% of the MP3 player market share.
For those of you who doesn’t have an iPod but use iTunes as their main music player we found two free apps which can be used to sync iTunes with almost any non-Apple MP3 player.
iTunes Agent, a project released under the GPL license by Jaran Nilsen and Justin Katz, is available from Sourceforge. The developers say it allows users to sync any MP3 player with iTunes as long as it has the ability to be connected to computer as a USB drive. It can be and MP3 player or even mobile phone.
Configuring iTunes Agent is simple. All the necessary settings are presented in one window and are obvious even to a non-tech savvy person. You can associate the MP3 player with one playlist from iTunes, either normal or smart. Choosing a smart playlist will enable you to refresh songs automatically every time you plug the device in. For instance, associating your MP3 player with some smart “Shuffle” playlist will always put new song collection on your player.
After choosing the device, music folder and associating that with a playlist you’re ready to right click on the notification area icon and select “˜Syncronize devices’. A dialog box will appear with information about the file operations being conducted. iTunes Agent recreates the iTunes folder structure on the MP3 player; Music>Artist>Album. Be careful, because some older MP3 players don’t support going more than 2 levels deep. While testing the current version of iTunes Agent, I never encountered a crash or hang, and the file transfer completed successfully in a short time.
iTunes Sync, a program from John Tackabury of Binary Fortress Software, isn’t licensed under the GPL but provides a simpler configuration panel, automatic updates, translations into Spanish and German and a slightly better looking notification area icon.
Both programs tested are free, work with iTunes 8 and require .NET Framework 2.0, which is available for free from Microsoft Update.
Do you know other solutions for syncing MP3 players (other than iPod) directly with iTunes? Have you used one of these programs? Let us know in the comments.