iPod Review

By Peter Molfese and Joel Hruska

Date: April 9, 2002

Not too many people know I have an iPod (www.apple.com/ipod/) because they rarely see me pull it out of my pocket.  Weighing in at 6.5 ounces and roughly the size of a deck of cards – the iPod is the first MP3 player to be this discreetly-sized and still hold over three days of music.

With its simple to use control panel and clean features, the iPod is a stylish addition to Apple’s product line.  Although the LCD initially seems a bit small at only 2 inches, Apple has provided a simple, effective, and easy-to-use interface for the player. 



Down To Business

The iPod comes standard with the headphones, as shown above, a charger unit which looks similar to that of a laptop charger – only smaller, software CD, and a firewire cable.  In essence – everything you need to use your iPod with any Macintosh you may own – so long as your Mac has a firewire port. 

I feel it is important to mention that there is an empty space in the iPod box, complete with cover as if something is missing from the packaging – but my call to Apple revealed that nothing was missing.  To top if off – the headphones jack looks strangely complicated for just being a headphone jack.  The possibility exists that a remote control may be later added (as have been discussed on many Apple rumor sites).  However, it could just be a ploy by the Steve Jobs to spark rumors, debate, and free publicity. 

Inside the iPod is a 5GB firewire hard drive – for holding music (just in case anyone didn’t figure that one out).  The drive can be used to store music as well as storing files and other data.  Apple specs read that 1,000 songs at 160Kbps in mp3 format can be stored on the iPod.  When mixing 128Kbps and 192Kbps files along with the 160Kbps – I found that the iPod comfortably stores 1100+ songs with some room to spare.   Transfer speeds are surprisingly fast – I found that transferring nearly 1100 songs in about 15 minutes – easily out performing any portable mp3 player employing a USB connection. 

Also inside, Apple lists a Lithium Polymer battery – though VHJ is offering a prize if you can figure out exactly where the battery is located. :-) Apple cites that the iPod should run for 10 hours one a single charge, in my initial tests of the iPod, it ran for 12.3 hours before finally giving in.  As an added bonus – the iPod charges it’s long lasting battery while plugged into your Mac via Firewire, thus allowing you to transfer songs and charge at the same time.  For times when you want to take the iPod on the road for an extended trip, however, Apple has also provided the afore-mentioned AC adapter.

The iPod also offers a whopping 20 minutes of skip protection – just in case you wanted to listen to some tunes while launching into space on the next shuttle.  It also supports mp3 (both set bit rate and variable bit rate), WAV, and AIFF (sorry WMA users lose out – but why use that format anyway?) 

The most common complaint that I’ve read online has been about the included earpieces.  True, they are rather cheap looking.  But they’re comfortable, stylish, and keep your ears warm.  More importantly – for those individuals who are adventurous like myself – you can hear the horns of cars through your music – avoiding that unfortunate road kill hair look.  A long cord attached to the earpieces allows the iPod to easily reach to your pants pocket without putting strain on the earpieces. 

Physically, the iPod is impressive—its small, light, offers over 10 hours of playback, can store over a thousand songs, and has an easy to use, intuitive interface.  The last major component to the iPod isn’t hardware-based—it’s the operating system driving the player.

The operating system designed by Pixo (www.pixo.com) works flawlessly with the iPod’s face controls.  A similar menu structure to the new Mac OS X “Column View,” the iPod navigates files by folders in a list format.  The system begins at a menu with lists of: Play lists, Artists, Songs, Settings, and About.  Selecting play lists will bring up a list of the play lists identical to those on your desktop computer running Apple’s iTunes software (www.apple.com/itunes/).  Selecting songs will bring up a comprehensive list of all the songs on your iPod in alphabetical order – from which you can choose any – using the jog dial to scroll up and down as you please.  Selecting Artists simply gives you a list of artists to match the songs and you can view all of the songs by a particular artist on your iPod. 

The settings menu gives you several options that I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see on a handheld mp3 player: shuffle, repeat, backlight timer, contrast, clicker, sleep timer, startup volume, language, and reset.   



All in all – whether you’re a Macintosh user, a Windows user, or just an individual addicted to music – the iPod is the best mp3 player I’ve used: smaller than most – fitting easily in your pocket; easier to use interface than anything on the market; and offering the fastest computer to player transfer rates with the longest battery times. 


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