Sooooo . . . if I got one of these, how do I put my music (all on CD) onto it? How do I listen to it, other than on headphones? How does it organize what I put onto it . . . folders like on my hard drive? What kind of battery – a special one like a camera?
Most of these questions can be answered by one word. iTunes.
iTunes is free software that is downloaded from Apple’s website. It’s about 100MB file that once downloaded will expand to about 200MB of hard drive space. I tell you that in case you are on a slow connection (dial-up or satellite) you won’t be expecting a quick download. The program itself is not especially; about the same as Microsoft Word.
Importing Your CD
In iTunes you can adjust the preferences to either automatically or manually import CDs when they are put into the computer. You can also set up the quality of the import. I’m kind of an audiophile so I select the highest quality using the Advance Audio Coding (AAC) format. Most everyone has heard of MP3. A great format and compatible on everything. AAC is like MP3 version 2.0. It also achieves better sound from the same size file, and is compatible on all computers and iPods. Anyway, you can set up iTunes to automatically import and eject your CD. Simple, right? Well as a matter of fact, yes! While it is importing the CD it queries a special server that, based on some key pieces of information, will automatically determine the name of the Album, Artist, Song, song length, etc. in a matter of seconds. It applies this information to the file and organizes anyway you want. If you click on the artist column, it will alphabetize all your songs by the artist who sings them. Click on the album cover, and all the songs go by album order, A-Z. Movies are another issue. Lets just stick to music for this post.
Synching Your Music
So now you have music in iTunes, how does one get it on their iPod. Each iPod comes with synch cable that plugs into the bottom. The other end is a standard USB cable that plugs into your computer. When you open iTunes it will recognize the iPod is attach and display it as a “device.” If you click on you it iTunes will show a new screen that allows you to select what gets sent to the iPod. Each “tab” allows you to select specific items.
iTunes is pretty smart and won’t give you an option that doesn’t apply to your particular iPod. See the “Apps,” “Movies” and “TV Shows” tabs? If you have an iPod touch, it’ll show up but if you plug a shuffle in, those won’t show up. Since a shuffle doesn’t have a screen, why would you want to see these, right? When clicking on each tab you will be presented with appropriate content with boxes next to it for you to check off. For “Music,” for instance, you can select content based on genre, artist, album, etc. And don’t worry if you pick too much. Once you hit apply it will tell you right away if there’s not enough room. All you have to do is remove some of your picks and try it again. After completing the sync, you eject the iPod and it is ready to use. Before you do, note what your iPod has on it at the bottom of the iTunes screen by type of content: music, movies, apps, etc. That way you’ll have a good idea what you can do with it (remove/add/change the music, movies and apps) the next time you plug it in.
Playing the iPod
You’ve imported your CDs. You’ve synced your iPod. Now, how do you play the music? First, headphones are the obvious option for listening but the market for iPod enabled radios has exploded. There is an entire aisle at Best Buy with products from $40 to $500. The iPod classic, nano and touch simply plug in just like they would the sync cable. Another method is to use the headphone port on the iPod with an audio cable to plug it into cars with an Auxiliary port. Then you just select the Aux input on the radio and press play on the iPod. This is a special cable (about $10) with the audio plug at both ends so you’ll want to look for key words like “3.5mm stereo extension cable” on the packing.
The iPod interface is a little different between models. The shuffle, since it only holds around 250 songs, doesn’t need a menu. You just hit play and use the forward and reverse buttons to move between songs. The classic, nano and touch, however have a full menu that allow you to select the music the same way as when you synced: by artist, album, genre, etc. It may seem complicated but my 6 year old son has had no trouble selecting what he would like to listen to (much to our occasional dismay.)
Charging Your iPod
The battery in an iPod is not removable. Apple has done an amazing job with battery technology over the years which has resulted hundreds of charges before the battery starts losing performance. I’ve even heard stories of 1st Generation iPod classic owners still achieving 8 hours of playtime!
You’ll have to try pretty hard for your iPod to run out of juice before you get a chance to charge it again by plugging it back into the computer. There are other plugs you can purchase that allow you to use a wall socket rather than rely on your computer for charging. The same plug will work for any iPod so you don’t have to buy different plugs if you have more than one kind.
In the next post we will discuss some of the more advanced feature of the iPod touch, the only one with WiFi. This lets you do some pretty amazing things like email, the internet and video chat. Until then, check out the photos below for some explanatory pictures and screenshots. 🙂