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External iPad storage for music?

Discussion in 'Portable WIFI Drives' started by anotherscott, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Most of the conversation here seem to center around using an external drive to store movies, but my interest is storing music, and what I want is a nice music playing interface, along the lines of the classic itunes approach, where I can select music by artist, album, genre, recent additions, rating, etc. Does anything do this?

    Some of the screen shots I've seen just seem to provide a massive list of files. That might be okay for storing 100 movies, but not 10,000 songs! (My goal is to eventually rip my entire 1000+ CD collection.) So there's no point to 500 gigabytes of music storage unless the app allows you to manage the library in some way. So I'd like to hear about some of the software that works with these devices, and not just info about the hardware itself. Is anyone using high capacity external storage for music? How is it working out? Is the software that comes with the device good, and/or is there a third-party app that works well with it?

    One feature I'd really like is the ability to rate a song while it is playing. Easy on the old iPods. Can I do this with any app that works with any of these external devices?

    Thanks...
  2. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Well, I picked up the GoFlex Satellite, and it does look like a great way to bring my entire song library with me... but the app does not let me rate songs. I have found numerous other apps that can play music from the GoFlex (ArkMC, AceMusic, 8player, MediaConnect, etc.) but so far nothing that lets me rate songs. I also tried XBMC since my iPad is jailbroken, and that at least displays star ratings, but as far as I can see, still provides no way to enter/alter the ratings while a song is playing.

    Has anyone found anything that will let me rate songs played from a DLNA/UPnP device, whether for a standard or jailbroken iPad?
  3. col.bris
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    col.bris Administrator Staff Member

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    I understand your need however as far as I am aware at this time it is not possible. It is however an opportunity for a developer to provide a solution. Managing that sort of numbers is beyond the average user however I guess you want to have the entire collection with you.
  4. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Yup. 95% of my listening is done in my car. I figure, what's the point of having only 5% of my collection available to me 95% of the time I listen? And I don't want to take the time to cull which 5% of my collection I want with me this month, and periodically update it. It would be so much simpler to just put my entire collection on a GoFlex, and no matter where or when I'm listening, I've got whatever I want, with zero maintenance. I would use that same drive in the car or at home.

    The big part of this, which I somewhat dread, is the ripping of 1000+ CDs I've bought over the past 30 years. And that's part of the issue, there are probably hundreds of CDs that include songs I don't remember or have never heard. Car drives are the perfect time to load up an album I don't know, and rate what's great, what might be worth another listen to be sure, and what's junk. But to do that, I have to load up something portable with all my "unknown" music. The idea of moving it all on and off the iPad's itself in little chunks, periodically culling all the bad songs and adding new albums until I run out of room, then starting to archive all the good songs too... what a mess! So it really makes sense to load up some really high capacity device and just keep rating stuff.

    So far, the best solution I've come up with is to travel, not just with my ipad, but also with a macbook with 500+ gb of storage, load all my songs into itunes on the Mac, enable Home Sharing so I can use the Music app on the iPad while driving to rate the songs. But that is a bit unwieldy! Multiple devices I have to keep powered, a whole ritual to start the system up each time, and when I park, I not only have to take the iPad with me wherever I go, but also the laptop (I'm not comfortable leaving that stuff in the car unattended). Plus I discovered that, while you can indeed rate songs this way, and the ratings will be stored in iTunes on the Mac, they will not appear on the iPad, so you can't even tell what you've rated and what you haven't. Weird. Anyway, still searching for a better solution than this...!
  5. zstairlessone
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    zstairlessone iPad Ninja

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    I know this probably isn't what you are looking for, but it is an option. I have a head unit that can load 6 DVDs of music which at 5Mb per song average (high) is over 5,600 songs. I don't have to carry anything with me and can put the music in album or artist (or any other sorting) folders to give me quick access to what I am looking for.

    Beyond that, people used to put laptops or computers in a box in their trunks to play music on, load up with hard drives worth of music, and control them from remote touch screens. I have also seen iPad and iPad mini mounts for a vehicle (you might think about the 128 GB iPad at approx 25,600 songs capacity) that work great, and can function as a GPS if you get a cellular one.
  6. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Thanks for the thought about the 6-DVD head unit, but I think that if that were enough capacity for me, it would be simpler, cheaper, and more flexible if I were just to get, as you mentioned later, a dedicated 128 gB ipad... and I'd be able to rate the songs, which I assume you can't do in your system. (In fact, I used to own a 160 gB iPod, which was unfortunately stolen. I never found a really comfortable way to interact with it in the car, though, and it still wasn't enough to store everything I'd want.) But really, the iPad+GoFlex I think already is a better solution than the DVD method.

    As for the old systems of computers in trunks controlled by touchscreens, well, that's pretty much the same as the macbook+ipad approach I mentioned. But I don't want to build a dedicated system into the car... again, I want to move the library with me, from car to home so I don't have to maintain a separate mobile library... plus I have two cars and want to be able to use the system in either. I guess I might be able to rig up a dedicated "hidden" Macbook system in each car and travel between the cars and home with a small external hard drive I would connect at each location (and my iPad), but that's rather pricey and still a bit complicated.

    One thing I didn't mention is that, since my idea is to have a single device for home and car (no need to sync things, no need to create/maintain travel subsets), I do want high quality, and was going to rip my CDs into lossless format, and that also contributes to the need for higher capacity. I think it works out to about 3 CDs per gigabyte. So I figure a 500 gig device of some sort will allow me to finally mothball my two 400-disc changers (which themselves have been outgrown).

    Really, the GoFlex Satellite gets me 95% of the way there. It's small, mobile, high capacity, easily controlled by the iPad I already have. And a very cheap solution, under $200. The only thing that leaves me unsatisfied is the inability to rate songs on it. And it's really not worth all the complication etc. to address that with some kind of macbook based solution as I briefly considered.

    So what I'm thinking of at the moment is somehow "manually" tracking my song ratings as I drive (notebook? another iPad app?) and then at the end of the day/week, connecting the drive to iTunes on my Mac and going back and entering the ratings for everything I listened to during my drives. This just seems so tedious and primitive, I almost can't believe there's no way to do this on the iPad itself!

    I've waited all these years, maybe I should just wait some more. The way storage capacities keep increasing, I would not be surprised to see a 500 gB iPad in a few years.
  7. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, since you have some hard requirements, your options seem limited to me. One option is to become a iPad app developer and build the app you want with feature you want. Or play a developer to do one for you, or encourage a developer whose app you like to add the features you want.

    Having said that, I think I see one way to do want you want without any software development. Get a windows surface pro and use media player (I'm assuming that version of media player works like the one I win7, but if not you might have to downgrade). Your goflex should work fine with windows as well. In fact, you can use any of the window 8 tablet to accomplish this, meaning you can look at some of the less expensive models that some of the other companies make. You could even build it to integrate into your dash in your car. I assume you are planning to use a wire to drive your music I your car rather than Bluetooth so as to minimize the loss in sound quality after ripping lossless audio.
  8. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Yes, I'm hard wired into my sound system in the car. Though the point of the lossless audio isn't really to maintain highest quality in the car. It just gets back to wanting to use the same source drive for my music everywhere, so I want it lossless in order to get the best quality when I plug it in at home. If I don't rip losslessly, I'll feel compelled to leave my 400-disc changers hooked up. ;-)

    I guess I could rip losslessly for home, then make MP3 versions for mobile listening... at 160, I could probably fit the collection onto a 128 mB iPad. But there would seem to be a bunch of otherwise unnecessary time and effort required to do the conversion, plus the cost of a high end iPad, and I still have multiple libraries to deal with. i.e. if I'm listening to a song in the car, and I rate it, or delete it, I'll have to go through additional steps to transfer those ratings and deletions to my home drive. If I only have one drive, all my music is always "in sync" everywhere... complete, identically categorized and rated, etc.

    In the early days of portable music players, everyone just accepted that you would travel with only a portion of your collection, because of the cost of storage. It seems to me that that mindset persists, but really, with cheap storage, why should we have to bother maintaining different libraries/playlists for different devices/environments, and have to worry about syncing, or moving different parts of our libraries on or off our portable devices? It seems odd to me that wanting consistent access to a single, complete library would be a weird or demanding request. And really, the GoFlex Satellite seems to pretty much do the trick, I just really miss the ability to rate songs. As my collection of recommendations has grown, it's become really hard for me to remember which ones I've listened to and how much I liked them, or even the titles of my favorites. Which is kind of funny because when I was a kid, I could probably tell you from memory what the track listing was on just about every album I owned, and knew every song. But the 21st century quantity is overwhelming, and my brain doesn't store new data as efficiently as it used to!

    Anyway, back to the syncing issues, Apple basically addressed this problem with email/calendar/contacts with iCloud, the idea being that, whichever device you move to, your calendar and contacts are always identical and complete, with no user effort required to keep things in sync. I think the idea is equally beneficial for a music library, but keeping 500 gigs of lossless audio and streaming it at full quality (and over a mobile network) is a bit beyond cloud reality for now. So something like the GoFlex is the best solution I've seen. Just needs a few tweaks...
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  9. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    You can write to apple to request features. They more they hear certain requests, the more likely it is that they may listen.

    Frankly, I cannot keep 10000 songs in my head. At any given time I'm only listening to fewer than 100 songs. Also, I have lost my ratings many times on my windows systems,

    I bet if your rip lossless you can easily find a windows program that will batch convert for you. That part is rather easy....just convert in batches while you are asleep.
  10. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Oh, and thanks for the idea about a Windows Surface Pro tablet. I could probably actually run the PC version of itunes on it, that might be a nice solution, albeit an additional expense. Though my car would be like an airplane cockpit, with the iPad running my GPS on one side, and my Surface tablet managing my music on the other! At least I wouldn't have to switch apps to get from one to the other...

    I was kind of thinking there might be a few things a Surface Pro could come in handy for. Though I can't say I'm happy hear about about how many times you've lost your song ratings in Windows!
  11. AQ_OC
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    AQ_OC Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There are quite a few tablets running Win8 these days. You might find one of the lesser (in terms of price, i mean) brands would serve this task better. And, if you get MS Streets and Trips, you can combine GPS/Nav tasks one one device (though, I do find android/iPads do better at Nav than Windows).
  12. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Just as a front end to a music library, I think the little Acer W3 might do it... seems to be the smallest, lightest, and cheapest option.

    I think that the inability to rate songs on the GoFlex Satellite over wifi could be a matter of the device being read-only in that operational mode (and ratings are usually written back to the song file itself). Windows Surface Pro adds the option of accessing the device via USB where writing should be no problem, though that can be a bit of a cable mess (unless there is some way to do that wirelessly?).

    I had been thinking of using iTunes for Windows just because I'm already familiar with iTunes, but apparently it has not been updated for Windows 8 to be touch-friendly, so it does not seem like a good while-driving solution. You mentioned Windows Media Player, maybe that's the way to go then. Really, any song player that has large text (for song/album/artist/playlist displays) and big buttons (for track pause/skip and for rating up or down) would work for me. Is WMP specifically good for this? Any other suggestions?

    This also affects my choice of how to rip. I want lossless audio, but Apple has their own format... I'd like the files I rip to the GoFlex to be playable on the Windows Surface Pro but also from my Macbook, and I don't know which (if any) lossless audio formats are readable by both. And again, I want my song ratings to be visible from either platform. Any advice here? (And I am still concerned about your comment about having lost your ratings in Windows... Anyone have any ideas about why this happens and how to avoid it...?

    I realize I'm getting pretty far from what people on an iPad forum are likely to know much about! Is there a comparably helpful forum for Windows tablets that anyone could point me to?

    One nice thing about the iPads for Nav is that, if you have a model with the cell data connectivity, you can get good real-time traffic data.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  13. anotherscott
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    anotherscott iPF Novice

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    Well, I picked up an Acer W3, and it was defective out of the box.

    I've also discovered another potential problem with trying to use an iPad for everything... It seems like if I set it so that its wifi finds my GoFlex Satellite, the GPS program no longer gets traffic data, because it is trying to get it from the wifi connection (whereas when there is no wifi connection at all, it gets it from cell). It's one little gotcha after another, it seems...

    edit: I think I found a fix for that last issue.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013

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