As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I recently bought my first iPod (the 80 GB, generation 6 model). I haven't gotten much time to play with it due to constant interruptions at work (which really sucks), so I'll be coming back to it later this week. For now, I'd like to share some thoughts on iTunes 7.
I've been using iTunes on my laptop for a while now, for the sole purpose of subscribing to podcasts that I enjoy (Diggnation, The Totally Rad Show, They Might Be Giants, etc.). In that regard, it does a great job. But until now, I hadn't used any of the the music library features.
Ripping music from a CD is very easy. You simply put in the CD and iTunes prompts you to import it (after loading CDDB information about the CD). I like the fact that I can cancel the prompt, unselect the tracks that I don't want to import (or fix incorrect track names), and continue. I'm a accuracy freak, so the CDDB information is always important to me. Thankfully, the iTunes database is way more accurate than the database used by Windows Media Player. To my best recollection, I haven't needed to make any corrections so far; simple tweaks to remove stuff like "[Live]" or "(alternate take)" are all that I've done. Editing track information is incredibly easy, and you can batch edit multiple tracks at once (very handy).
In order to get album art, you must have an Apple store account. And in order to get an account, you have to provide a credit card number (which sucks). Thankfully, there's a way around this. Simply buy a prepaid iTunes card (I bought one for $15), and use that to create the account. Easy and a little more secure! Downloading the album art is quick and painless, but iTunes sometimes gets it wrong. Thankfully, it's easy to use your own album art image files. But where does one get these images? Surprisingly, I've found that Amazon.com is the best place to get the images. Most albums have user-submitted images, which can be used easily. I've filled all the holes in my collection using this technique, so I highly recommend it.
I've noted that iTunes is clearly a multi-threaded application. When I'm ripping a CD, both of my processors are using about 80% of their available cycles. Ripping seems to take a little longer than in Windows Media Player, though I haven't done a side by side comparison, so it could simply be my poor time estimation. I chose to use MP3 files (instead of AAC) at 160 kbps, higher than the 128 kbps I used to rip at with WMP. I'm about 2/3 of the way through ripping my music library, and it's taking forever. But think of the music I'll be able to listen to!
Syncing music from my computer to my iPod is incredibly easy. I initially thought that I would manually manage the music on my iPod, but the automatic syncing is so easy I'm not sure that I want that hassle. Other miscellaneous thoughts: the "cover flow" view in iTunes is a nice gimmick, but seems a little impractical for frequent use. I prefer to use the searching, sorting, and browsing options (which are all quite responsive).
Overall I'm quite pleased. Like any application, iTunes has its quirks, but overall it seems like a very solid program. I think I prefer it to Windows Media Player 11, which now feels like even more of an iTunes wannabe than it did before I switched.