Apple iPod

The stylish stainless steel and white Apple iPod houses a 5GB hard drive capable of storing about 1000 MP3s at 160Kbps. The iPod weighs 183g and is about the size of a deck of cards (102x62x20mm). Able to synchronise automatically with Apple's iTunes 2 jukebox software (discussed on page 117 in Here's How), the iPod stands out by using FireWire to connect to the Mac, making transfers up to 30 times faster than com-"parable devices using USB.

The iPod features the standard playback controls arranged in a circular fashion on the front of the device below the large (160x128 pixels) backlit LCD display that shows battery life, artist name, song title and album name. The iPod supports MP3s up to 320Kbps, variable bit rates, WAV and AIFF files and is also firmware upgradeable to accommodate future audio formats. The built-in 32MB memory cache provides no fewer than 20 minutes of shock protection. Another bonus is that the device charges its lithium-"polymer battery (which boasts 10 hours of life) courtesy of the FireWire port as it downloads songs - something many device makers could adopt. An AC adapter is also provided for charging.

At present, the iPod only works with iTunes on Mac OS 9 or OS X, which could be seen as an attempt by Apple to sway potential computer buyers into walking down the Apple path, iPod in hand. That said, Steve Jobs has coyly mentioned that Windows support for the iPod may be forthcoming, though don't expect iTunes for "Windows any time soon. At the time of writing, Mediafour (www.mediafour."com), a company known best for its MacDrive software that lets Windows users read Mac disks, had released a preview of its Xplay software. When finished, Xplay should allow Windows users equipped with a FireWire port to manage an iPod's song library.

The use of FireWire is innovative, the device is sleek in appearance and size and is also very easy to use - but at $895, the iPod is priced a little higher than its fellow hard disk MP3 players. Apple has a potential winner on its hands, though.

Apple iPod

Classy, compact MP3 player with 20 minute "anti-skip protection, large backlit LCD and 5GB "hard drive. The scroll wheel allows you to browse "your music by playlist, artist or song.

Price: $895.

Phone: 13 3622.

URL: www.apple.com.au.

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