Hands-On Review - Apple's iPOD

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The Apple iPod, while not exactly a necessity for an educator or student, is definitely in a league of its own. It d'esn't come with a stylus or a bright, high-resolution display because it's not that type of handheld device. It is designed as an MP3 player, but for educators it is a great option for storing and listening to digital books, as well as a convenient way to transport files between home and the classroom.

The iPod can store up to 1,000 CD-quality songs or other digital files on its 5 GB hard drive - which doubles as a portable FireWire hard drive for storing presentations, large documents, images and even digital movies. If this d'esn't impress you, the iPod is also ultra-portable, at only 6.5 oz., and about as big as a deck of cards. It offers up to 10 hours of continuous play - powered by its rechargeable lithium polymer battery - and even recharges when it is connected to a Mac, using power supplied over the FireWire cable.

iPods play MP3, MP3 VBR, AIFF and WAV files, and can support MP3 bit rates up to 320 Kbps. In addition, the iPod's firmware enables support of future audio formats. The iPod features a 60-mWatt amplifier, which delivers amazing sound for listening to your favorite music or digital books. It also features a 20-minute skip protection that allows uninterrupted playback. The iPod is easy to operate and use with its scroll wheel and its customizable features, which include shuffle, repeat, a sleep timer and start-up volume control. It also offers an Auto-Sync feature that makes it easy to update your digital files any time you use the iTunes 2 software to connect your iPod to your Mac. This software, which is included with the iPod, enables users to burn and recognize MP3 CDs, create playlists and manage files.

The iPod's only real downside is, at this time, it only works with Macs. Its price point at $399 also places it on the expensive side compared to other MP3 players, though no other player compares to the storage capacity and the quality of the iPod. While the iPod is made for Mac fanatics, it will also impress PC lovers. Apple, Cupertino, CA, (800) MY-APPLE, www.apple.com/education.

Grade: A

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.

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