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Convert your vinyl to MP3s without a PC

Craig Crossman
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
$129. - www.brookstone.com

A lot of what I write about falls into the category of moving the old into the new. Take our music collections for example. As formats change, obsolescence rears its ugly head. But what's a person to do? You can't just stop buying the music because you live in fear that one day, the medium on which the music is delivered will no longer be supported. And you don't have to go back that far to see how this keeps happening.

For me, it all began with 8-Track tapes. For a long time, all my music was on good old vinyl. Most were 33's but because all the new hits came out on 45s, I had loads of those as well. Then I learned to drive and I wanted to play my music in the car. But there was no way to play records in a moving vehicle. But with 8-Tracks, I could play my choice of music in the car. I literally had shelves full of 8-Tracks and I had players in both my home and in my car. I wound up buying more 8-Tracks than records simply because there was no way I could play my records while driving. Then cassettes came out and my 8-Tracks were toast. So of course, I had to buy all my songs over again on cassettes. Moving right along, the CD came on the scene and once again, I had to make the move. Bye-bye cassettes. I won't even tell you about my tragically short-lived minidisc collection. CDs continue to hold their own but the mp3 format is certainly a formidable contender. With the ability to download new music instantly over the Internet, the final format looks like it will be no physical format at all. Our music collections will just be those ethereal files you get over the Internet.

So now that the final medium seems most likely to be no medium at all, the only choice you'll have to keep making for now and in the future is what kind of container you'll buy to hold them. The personal computer will most likely be the central repository for all of them. But when it comes to players we can carry, the most popular seems to be Apple's iPod. But there are also multifunctional devices such as cell phones that do a fairly good job in storing and playing the music. But whether you decide on an iPhone or some other type of mp3 player, chances are your music files will always be available to you whenever you want to play them.

Given this apparent longevity and format stability, it makes sense to take whatever older format media you may still have and convert it to digital. There are services you can pay to do this but Brookstone has just introduced its iConvert record player that has the ability to not only play your old vinyl records, but it can also export them into a digital format. And it can do this without the use of a computer.

The iConvert let's you play and convert 33 and 45 rpm records. To convert a record, simply begin playing it. You can monitor the music on the iConvert's built-in stereo speakers. The iConvert converts the analog sound into the digital mp3 format. The files can be stored into any flash drive via the iConvert's USB port. Simply plug the flash drive in and the iConvert does the rest. All of the transfer information is displayed on the iConvert's LCD screen. No special software is needed. The iConvert records directly onto the digital storage media. You can also insert an SD memory card into the provided slot and transfer the files.

While the iConvert also has an AM/FM radio, a full-function remote control and a line-out connection that lets you play the turntable through your home stereo system, this isn't intended to be used as a quality turntable on your expensive stereo system. This record player's strength is its ability to convert without the use of a computer.

So unless you're some righteously indignant audio magazine prima donna who has absolutely no tolerance for anything less than absolute perfection, you're going to find that the iConvert offers an easy and affordable solution to migrate your old vinyl records into your digital collection.

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