Apple delivers attractive, easy to use digital music player

Daily Arts Writer
Published January 24, 2002

When you buy any expensive gadget, rarely do you think the packaging is well designed. Usually you just want to tear it off in search of the prize inside. Not so with the iPod, Apple"s digital music player. Even the packaging is elegant it comes in a tiny cube shaped box with two compartments, one with the iPod itself and the other with software, earbuds, a power adapter and manuals.

Of course, this isn"t where its elegance ends. There are five self-explanatory buttons on the front of the iPod and a scroll-wheel in the middle that moves you through your music. Other than that, there"s nothing else to clutter up its design, allowing you to move incredibly quickly through your songs.

This is a necessity because the iPod comes equipped with a voluminous 5-gigabyte hard drive. Apple"s marketing catch phrase of "1,000 songs in your pocket" is actually an understatement (for once). The iPod could probably hold about 1,200.

It gets easier. After connecting the iPod to your Mac, iTunes (Apple"s digital music jukebox) automatically opens and syncs all of the songs on your computer to the MP3 player. You can have your entire music collection, from Air to Yo La Tengo, on you wherever you go in a package the size of a pack of cigarettes. And If you get a Radio Shack adapter you can play the iPod music in your car or on a home stereo.

Also, since the battery life is 10 hours, you don"t have to constantly worry about recharging. You could listen for an entire workday and still have time for a jog. Another cool feature is that when you sync it with your computer, it recharges. If you don"t have a computer close by, it comes with a handy adapter. It takes about an hour for 80% of the battery to charge and three hours for a full recharge.

I could go on about how easy it is to use the iPod, but the real test of whether or not a music device is worth buying is its sound quality. There wasn"t any sound degradation when I transferred music over and the earbuds that come with it are of high quality (but may be a bit uncomfortable for those of you with small ears). The only problem I had was a short silence between each song.

If you"re the active type, you"ll appreciate the skip free quality of your music. Apple has built 20 minutes of skip protection into the iPod. That"s not a typo. Even if you throw it around (which I do not recommend) it won"t skip a beat.

Now to one of the hallmark features about anything by Apple: Its design. I hate using the word "sexy" to describe consumer electronics so I"ll say that this is one of the most mouth-watering digital devices on the market. The front sports a bright, crisp screen with an incredibly bright backlight and is the distinct white color Apple uses on all its products. Its back is a mirror-like stainless steel with an etched Apple logo and "iPod" under it.

Right now the iPod is Mac only. A company called Mediafour is working on software to make it Windows compatible later this year. It won"t be as good an experience though, considering there"s nothing comparable to iTunes on Windows. I don"t view the lack of Windows compatibility as a disadvantage though it"s even more of an incentive to lose your PC and finally upgrade to a Mac.