Menu Sidebar



My Latest Books

My Podcast

How Much Media Content Does a 16 GB iPad Hold?

In a recent article, I did a test to see how much free space was left on a 16 GB iPad after installing iOS and all of Apple’s apps. Taking into account the “Other” space that’s always lost on an iOS device, I got a bit more than 8 GB to store music, movies, photos and other content.

Today, I tried another experiment: with the base iOS installation, and no other apps, how much content can it hold? I did this in part following a Twitter conversation with Jim M. who pointed out that the idea of selling music in lossless formats was problematic with so many 16 GB devices.

So, I wanted to find out how many hours of lossless music a 16 GB iPad would hold, taking into account a variable amount of “Other” space lost; in my case, between 1 and 1.5 GB. The answer is around 48 hours.

Lossless music

Lossless music is not all the same bit rate. It compresses differently according to the type of music. It varies from around 400 kbps to as much as 900 kbps, but, on average, comes in around the middle of that range. Though if you want to copy a lot of, say, harpsichord music to your iOS device, you’ll get fewer hours of music than if you sync music that takes up less space. In my test, the average was almost exactly 512 kbps.

The next step was to see how much music I could get on my device at 256 kbps, the bit rate the iTunes Store uses. I managed to squeeze just over four days’ worth of music, or 96 hours, almost exactly twice the amount of lossless music:


How about movies? I managed to sync two Die Hard movies in HD with some free space; two Harry Potter movies; one Lord of the Rings; a bit more for movies I ripped from DVDs. For the latter, since they come in around 2 GB each, I can get 5 movies comfortably.

I recall taking a trip a couple of years ago, and bringing this iPad mini with me. I was re-watching Breaking Bad, at least the seasons that had already aired at the time. I was able to fit about five episodes, as they are around 2 GB each. (I used hotel wifi to download others.)

All this is a thought experiment, designed to point out that with a 16 GB device, there’s not much space for anything. Once you start taking a lot of photos and videos, you’ll eat up free space; when you add apps, that’ll take up room. What’s left isn’t much.

This is yet another suggestion that Apple shouldn’t be selling a 16 GB device; and that users certainly should not buy it. You may only use your iPhone or iPad for a few apps, and not sync media; if so, then the 16 GB device will be big enough for you. But once you start syncing content to the device, it will fill up very quickly.

Paying the Pono Premium: Neil Young’s Exorbitantly Priced Hi-Res Music

I’ve been following the Pono story on this website. For those not familiar with it, Pono is a Toblerone-shaped digital music player backed by Neil Young, which is designed to play high-resolution music. It’s started shipping recently, and, curiously, I haven’t spotted any reviews or even comments of any depth on forums. Also, the Pono music store is not yet open.

But audio equipment review Andrew Everard spotted the pricing for one upcoming Neil Young album in Pono format. Storytone, listed on the Warner Bros Records Store site, is selling for $32.99. To be fair, this is a double album, but you can get it from the iTunes Store for only $15. Even better: get it on CD from for just $12. (Though on vinyl – which many audiophiles think is as good as high-resolution digital files – you’ll pay $70.)

Storytone high res

Neil Young would say that the high-res version is better; many people disagree. High-res music is priced higher than other digital files, but a difference of that magnitude is quite surprising. The Pono premium is $20 for this two-album set. To be fair, we don’t know what a standard single album will cost yet, but it won’t be cheap.

For Pono to have any chance at success, it not only has to bring high-resolution music files to the masses, but at an affordable price. It most likely will not do so, at least based on this first example.

The Committed Goes Deep on Wearables

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01Do you use a wearable device, such as a fitness tracker? On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I go deep on wearables, discussing what features we want on our wrists, and how we think the Apple Watch may or may not address these desires. We also look at email productivity; find out which one of us strives for Inbox Zero. And we talk about the new Kindle Family Library, which lets you share your ebooks with your family.

Listen to The Committed, Episode 58: “Big Honkin’ iPad”.

Apple Changes “Free” Terminology on App Store; But Still Uses Free for Top Charts

Apple made a change to the terminology they use in the App Store yesterday. Instead of saying Free on the price buttons for free apps, they now say Get. Apparently – and rightly so – this is because the EU is cracking down on “free” apps that can actually cost a lot of money because of in-app purchases.


Interestingly, Apple still uses the word “Free” in its lists of best-sellers.

Top free

I wonder if this was an oversight, or if they’re planning to change the charts as well; because those apps – or at least many of them – are not “free.”

Note that Apple has applied this change across the board to all kinds of content, even that content that does not have in-app purchases (free music, TV shows, books, etc.).

Check Your Netflix Streaming Speed with Example Short 23.976

If you’re a Netflix user, and you have problems with the quality of what you’re watching, you may want to find out exactly how fast your internet connection is. You can do speed tests on various websites, but they don’t show the actual speed you get from Netflix, which may be less if your ISP is throttling the service.

There’s a little-known film you can watch on Netflix called Example Short 23.976. It’s a cinema verité short – just 11 minutes long – that explores the relationship between man and his TV screen. Netflix’s description of the film gives little insight into the existential depth of this work:

“An example of 23.976 frames per second. An example of 23.976 frames per second. An example of 23.976 frames per second.”

What’s useful about this film is that it shows you exactly how fast you’re getting data from Netflix, and at what resolution. Here’s a screenshot. (It’s a bit hard to see, but at the time I took the screenshot, I was getting 3000 kbps, at 1280×720.)


When you start watching this movie, the bitrate and resolution will be low, and they’ll increase as Netflix figures out how much bandwidth you have. You may need to leave it running for a few minutes to get an accurate reading for your usable bandwidth. But this, combined with speed tests from other websites, can tell you if problems streaming Netflix are related to your overall speed or specific bottlenecks affecting Netflix traffic.

Deleting the iTunes Album Artwork Cache Folder May Resolve Problems with Album Art Displaying

I’ve recently gotten a number of emails from people with iTunes issues where album artwork doesn’t display correctly. There’s a simply trick that can resolve these issues: it involves deleting a cache folder that iTunes stores on your computer to speed up the display of album art.

When you view files in iTunes, the app checks to see if there is album artwork embedded in the files, or downloaded separately (for purchased files). If so, it creates a cache file of the artwork, so it doesn’t have to read the music files every time it displays them. I’ve found that, when I have issues with album art not displaying correctly, or not displaying at all, deleting this folder – stored in your iTunes folder – resolves them.

The folder is in ~/Music/iTunes/Album Artwork; that’s the iTunes folder in the Music folder in your home folder (the one with your user name and the house icon):

Itunes album artwork folder

Delete the Cache folder, empty the Trash, quit iTunes and relaunch it. You’ll notice that iTunes lags a bit when displaying a lot of content; as I said above, it has to extract the artwork from the files, and this takes a bit of time. But over time, the cache will be rebuilt, and this can fix some issues with album artwork displaying incorrectly.

Don’t delete the other folders; they contain artwork for purchased tracks, where the artwork isn’t embedded in the files, or other items in the cloud.

If you often add music or other content to your iTunes library and remove it, I’d recommend deleting this folder from time to time, if only to save space. It will contain cache files for items you’ve deleted, and, as you can see above, it can take up a lot of space. Mine is more than 4.5 GB, for a library of some 70,000 items.

Note: as one commenter pointed out, deleting this folder resolved an issue where iTunes was slow to launch. I hadn’t thought that it might have other effects on iTunes, so if you have any problems with iTunes running slowly, you might want to try deleting the folder. It can’t hurt; as I say above, iTunes just recreates the cache files.

How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 12

This series is becoming so popular that readers are sending me links to some of the most interesting products and “reviews” that they’ve encountered. Thanks to Mark B. for leading me to this gem.

The High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Power Cord is a $6,900 cable that takes electricity from your wall to an audio device. Obviously, it does nothing with the electricity that comes beyond the socket in your wall; not for the hundreds of feet to a main power line, or the miles to a transformer, or the dozens or hundreds of miles to a generator. Just those last few feet where, apparently, $6,900 can make a world of difference.

(Note that this is the cheapest version of this cable. There are three models, at prices from $6,900 to $12,900. “…experience the amazing effect of Magentic Conduction technology.”)

I guess it’s hard to not appreciate that the cable is “unusual.” As one reviewer says:

“These cords are unusual. Quite unusual. They consist of conductors that are impregnated with a substance that when magnetized, aligns the signal flow at the atomic level. Each termination contains powerful neodymium magnets.”

The reviewer is, at least, honest about how appearance affects expectations:

“We as audiophiles are surprisingly visual creatures. Looking at the CT-1 Ultimate power cords, with their thin conductors, white jacketing, and high bling factor terminations. I expected speed, dynamics and a highly resolved presentation.”

He then shows that appearance can have a negative impact on expectations:

“But they looked a little thin, so my assumptions were that it would sound thin as well.”

Of course, this being a cable review, we know he won’t be telling us that they really sound thin.

“I was wrong. Dead wrong. The CT-1 Ultimate did have the speed and dynamics, but it also had body, warmth, organic flow and super quiet background.”

But then it was time to wax poetic, and come up with some newspeak to explain what the cable did:

“I expected higher resolution, but at a cost of some type of tonal shift. Nope. No tonal shift, just MORE. More of everything musical and real, less (much less) of everything that is electronic, tense and fatiguing. The cables allow one to relax. Much like when one goes from redbook CD to DSD or vinyl. There is a physical relaxation that is in response to the sound being produced by one’s audio system. I hope that makes sense.”

Nope, it doesn’t. At least he asks the important question:

“The question is this. Is a power cord ever worth paying $6900 for?”

But you know what the answer will be; you’ve seen it in reviews like this before:

“For most of us, no. There are a few out there with the means and the audio systems that a $6900 power cord would bring a worthwhile improvement. Perhaps even a transformational one.”

A “transformational” improvement, from a power cord. Imagine what would happen if he got speaker cables that were “impregnated with a substance that when magnetized, aligns the signal flow at the atomic level.”

Fools and their money…

Newer Posts
Older Posts