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

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

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 percent 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

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.

—Jan. 24, 2002

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