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Playing Your Music

All these players are really great. But the real question is "Will they play the music I buy online?" If you do not buy music online and only strip your CDs to your hard drive, you'll be OK. However, if you do buy music online, there are some "gotchas" you have to watch out for.

First, Apple's iPod plays only music purchased at the Apple iTunes music store. So the music you bought at Napster does not work.

Second, Apple iTunes do not work with any other music player except the iPod. See something here? Yes, Apple is tied only to its own products. The others give you a choice. Increasingly, I am leaning toward choice because I can buy music from any online store and then play it back on my music player of choice. I am originally from England, and I like to buy a lot of British music from Microsoft's British version of MSN Music that I simply cannot get in the U.S. version of Apple's iTunes. Try buying Robbie Williams' Live at Knebworth here. You can't.

All the other music stores are not great, however. Sony Music's Sonic is almost impossible to use. Also, there is a restriction with the digital music purchased at other stores in that you can't burn the track more than three times. What's that about? Apple lets me burn my music as many times as I like.

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