The iPod is the greatest thing that’s happened to music since the CD. I’m actually not exaggerating here. During the early 2000’s CD sales had hit a plateau and piracy was rampant. You may have heard of Napster or LimeWire. These were just a couple of examples of easy to obtain free copies of music. That doesn’t include any of the more insidious sources made available to the more technically able such as Usenets and Torrents. (Maybe I’ll get into explaining those in another post. :)) But along comes a guy who had actually gotten fired from the company he started, yet brilliantly maneuvered his way back as the CEO of Apple, Inc. Steve Jobs. He had a vision that you could put over 50 of your CDs on a single piece of electronics… the iPod.
The first iPod was no looker by today’s standards. It was a 5GB model, could only play music for about 10 hours and needed to be charged by a relatively unknown kind of cable called FireWire. If that wasn’t painful enough it cost $399! Talk about paying a premium for high technology! I could go on and on about what’s changed and how far ahead Apple has stayed ahead of the curve on the digital music arena, but you’d be reading this all night. So instead, let’s get into today’s offerings from most basic to most advanced; classic, shuffle, nano and touch. By the way, you’ll notice that each model of the iPod starts with a lower case letter. It is not an error, but the proper way of writing each model. You’ll also notice that the iPod touch is not the “iTouch.” I always get a kick out of folks, especially when bad-mouthing the product, referring to it by the wrong name. 😀
While not the cheapest iPod is certainly the most basic. It has an internal spinning hard drive, just like most computers, unlike the rest of the lineup of iPods which use no moving parts for their memory. The classic only comes in one capacity, 160GB which is enough to hold about 40,000 songs (2500 CDs). That may sound like an awful lot but some folks use it to hold movies and television shows, too. Movies and TV take up quite a bit more space than music. But unlike the other models, the classic just plays. No touchscreen, it doesn’t “talk to you,” even the games on it are really simple. But for the cost, $250 new, it definitely holds the most music and has the 2nd longest lasting battery at 36 hours of playback time.
The shuffle by far gives you the most bang for your buck. At $49 for the 2GB model, you can skip fast food for a couple of weeks and pick one up. You can fit about 300 songs on this wearable piece of electronics (it has a nice clip on the back) which makes it perfect for the gym, out and about or even traveling alone. One of the neat features is that it “talks to you.” Seriously! There’s a little button on top that when pushed, will tell you the name of the song, artist and even the battery level. I’ve heard it and it sounded quite a bit more natural that I thought it would. As you can see it comes in some nice colors and if you can use a CD player you won’t have any problems using the control buttons on the face. Oh, by the way, it’ll play for 15 hours before needing to be recharged.
This little guy is just plain fun to use. It is slightly more complicated to use because the interface is touch based. Swiping, tapping, twisting… it’s fairly intuitive but still takes a few minutes to get used to. At $149 for the 8GB model (and $179 for 16GB) it is a little more expensive but still cost-effective. 8GB is enough for over 2000 songs. Some of the better features are an included radio (just in case) and a pedometer that helps you keep track of how much you’ve exercised. I bet it can outlast you… the battery will play 24 hours between charges! Oh, and this one has a clip, too.
The flagship iPod. It will almost cook dinner for the family. (It’ll help anyway with a recipe app. :)) The iPod touch is modeled directly from the iPhone. The only difference is that the touch doesn’t have cell service but on the flip side it is wafer thin at just over a quarter of an inch. It is seriously thin. The screen is the same as the iPhone as well. They call it Retina Display because the dots of color are so small your eyes can’t make them out. Why does that matter? Because pictures, tv shows and movies look absolutely amazing on the touch. Even compared to last year’s model! Additionally, there are over 300,000 applications on the iTunes Store that can be downloaded and installed. At first you may think it to be a bit excessive, but when you consider how many of these applications are immensely useful for education, you will think otherwise. Just tonight I was using a $2 program call Tiga Talk to help our 4-year-old with her speech. Earlier today I was reading about some of the signers of the US Constitution on a free app called Constitution. Everything from math quizzes to reading flash cards. And that’s just for the kids.
The touch also has a new trick, a front facing camera. That means video chatting over WiFi with other users of programs like Skype or Yahoo! Messenger. That comes in real handy for folks who travel a lot and would like to say good night to the kids. (I’ve done it many times during long stays in Germany.) So how much? Not as expensive as you might think. The baseline model with 8GB comes in at $229. That’s good for about 1000 songs and 20-30 applications. For 4 times the size of 32GB it is an,additional $70 ($299). The largest model will cost you $399 but has a positively massive memory size of 64GB. That’s enough room for all your music and 10 full length high-definition movies!
There is quite a bit more information at the Apple website so you’ll want to head over there to take some time for all this to sink in. As always, I look for ways to save money. It takes some patience but I have been fairly successful at saving about 50% off the cost by buying from Craigslist. Just make sure you meet someplace nice and public where you can test the WiFi… Starbucks and Chik-fil-A both offer free wireless internet. Another slightly less known way is to buy refurbished iPods from Apple. They look brand new and have gone through more intense testing than new iPods, but are typically 15-20% off. Not bad if you’re the less patient type. This post was a lot longer than I though it would be even though I left a lot out. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them below.