Apple iPod

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Apple iPod

Pros

  • Battery life and click-wheel control have are an improvement over earlier iPods

Cons

  • Limited codec support, music online can only be purchased from Apple

Bottom Line

The iPod's thoughtful design and features make it an excellent MP3 player, but for picky buyers who are holding out for the ideal portable music device, the wait continues.

Would you buy this?

In mid-2005, Apple launched its fourth-generation iPod--and by now you either love the slick-looking player or are unimpressed by its features and price. In our view, this version is much better than previous iPods, but it's still not perfect.

The major improvements: Apple rates the new iPod's battery life at 12 hours of continuous play (up from 8 hours), and I netted exactly that in tests of a shipping 40GB unit. To improve usability, Apple added the iPod Mini's click-wheel control, which elegantly combines touch-sensitive scrolling with easier-to-use click buttons.

Other improvements are minor. You can now speed up Audible.com audiobooks without triggering the chipmunk-on-helium effect; you can better manipulate On-The-Go playlists (and more easily save them); and you can shuffle through all of your songs or albums with a single click.

Frustratingly, the iPod continues to suffer from several feature omissions. Apple limits codec support to AAC, MP3 and Apple Lossless (plus .wav and AIFF), so fans of WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC are out of luck. You still can't change the order of songs on a playlist, and, at the time of writing, you could only purchase music online only through Apple.

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