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What's in an iPod - And Why Is It So Popular?

Aug 17, 2007
Not only is the iPod popular because of its reception from the public, but also because it was Apple's first and successful attempt at branching out from its iMac products and a reputation of being strictly "computer". Unlike the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle which use flash memory, the iPod is designed around a central scroll wheel, with the full-sized models storing media on their internal hard-drive. The iPod is also used as an external data storage device, with its internal hardware and software design originally based on a reference design by another company, PortalPlayer. Apple had decided to focus on technical capability, wanting the iPod to focus on the development on the iPod's simple user interface, along with its ease of use. The iPod's software for the iPod development was not developed in-house for this, but contracted PortalPlayer, who already had the reference design based on 2 ARM cores. Apple then contracted another company, Pixo, to create and refine the user interface, under CEO Steve Jobs.

Currently the best-selling digital audio player, with over 50 million sold and over 1 billion legal downloaded songs from its iTunes online music store, Apple's iPod player is the most popular consumer brand in the mainstream of a growing market of digital devices. Whenever the iPod is connected to the host computer, the itune will automatically synchronize musical playlists or entire musical libraries. The iPod can play several different formats: MP3, M4A/AAC, Protected AAC, AIFF, WAV, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless audio file formats. The newer iPods can also play MPEG-4 (H.264MPEG-4AVC), .mp4, .m4v, and Quick Time video file formats. It does not support Microsoft's WMA format - as other media players do - but there is a converter available for non-DRM WMA files with the Windows version of iTunes. MIDI files cannot be played, but can be converted to audio files using the iTunes Advanced menu.

The Apple iPod can be used as a boot disk for a Mac computer, if it is formatted as HFS Plus, allowing one to have a portable operating system installed. If the iPod is formatted on a Mac OS X computer, it uses the HFS Plus file system format; if it is formatted on Windows, the FAT32 is used because Windows cannot access HFS file systems. A compatible third-party software must be used, as simply copying files to the drive will not allow the iPod to properly access them. As of now there are four basic iPod models that you can find on major shopping websites: the iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod photo, and the brand new iPod video. The iPod photo plays all the songs you wish to download to it, but also displays color photos (album cover art, etc.) on the mini-screen to please the eyes in addition to the already pleased ears.

The photo feature is a favorite of most users who purchased this version of the iPod, but like all electronic gadgets, it has its downfalls. The pictures are hard for some to see on the mini screen and some were upset that you MUST purchase a separate plug-in to view pictures on your television screen. When you do buy the extra connection, you will be more than pleased with the clarity of the pictures on screen. All iPod models come with ear bud headphones, an AC Adaptor, and a 2.0 USB cable in addition to the actual hardware itself. Battery life is usually strong in the iPod with anywhere between 12-15 hour battery life (15 hours on the iPod Photo). Various hard drives are available for different versions of the iPod Photo, but a basic rule of thumb to remember with MP3 players is 2,500 songs per 10 GB.
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