BusinessWeek Looks at Walkman vs. iPod Capacity Claims

In an editorial at BusinessWeek, Cliff Edwards looks at capacity claims, and the sound quality issues relating to that, between Appleis iPod and Sonyis Walkman NW-HD1. At issue is the methodology used by Sony to claim that its 20 GB Walkman can hold more music than Appleis 20 GB iPod, something only possible by using different bit rates to make oneis comparison. Mr. Edwards examines those issues. From the piece:

Thatis the logic Apple used to attack Sonyis new player. The creator of the iPod notes that to jam those 13,000 songs onto its player, Sony would have to compress music files to a bit rate of 48 -- well below the default 128-bit rate Apple uses. "Clearly, they are trying to use a little marketing trickery," says Apple Executive Vice-President Philip W. Schiller. Moreover, Sonyis default bit rate for the new player will be 68. But Sony says its compression technology is superior to Appleis and can maintain quality even at lower bit rates. "Listen to it yourself," says Todd Schrader, a Sony Electronics vice-president. "I donit have a golden ear, but it sounds great."

For now itis impossible to verify Sonyis claims, since experts have yet to conduct tests on its music player. In a decidedly unscientific test, one BusinessWeek writer and two friends listened to Frederic Chopinis Etudes Opus 10 and Opus 25, compressed from a store-bought compact disc to a 48-bit rate using Sonyis technology. Then they compared it with the original CD. Guess what? They couldnit tell the difference.

There is more information on these issues in the full story, which we recommend as an interesting read.