I bought an iPod


I took the plunge yesterday. After weeks -- even months of wanting and looking and reading and learning about MP3 players, it was clear to me that iPod is the standard to which all other personal music players are held. And after looking at which features are offered on the various models, it became clear to me that the full-fledged iPod 20GB was the one for me.

The packaging is as fun and innovative as everything else Apple makes, which certainly helps make the experience pleasant. I chuckled when I opened the box to find a sticker on the front of the iPod instructing me "do no steal music". Apparently that is the legal equivalent to the "do not use near water" sticker on hair dryers.

The first instruction in the book is to charge the iPod - which takes about 4 hours. It charges through the dock connector (like a cell phone) using either the USB or Firewire cable, both of which are provided. Mine also came with a wall-plug having a Firewire jack on it. While it was charging I performed step 2: installing iTunes. In my case, I already had iTunes on my iBook so I downloaded the latest version and upgraded my installation.

Having never really taken the time to use iTunes before, I was really surprised at how perfect the program is. Once again, Apple shows the world how it should have been done. With WinAMP or Windows Media Player (the two MP3 programs I've used most) I find myself constantly frustrated with poorly tagged files, and the need to diligently keep files organized. But with iTunes, you just import the songs you want and it automatically sorts them in the filesystem and organizes all the data into a single database-style view where it's easy to edit ID3 tags. And better still is the simplicity with which I can fix the information on an entire batch of songs.

The real magic is the iPod itself, though. I couldn't understand what was such a big deal about iPod when reading reviews, but after having it in my hand for five minutes everything was clear. This really is one ingeniously designed technological wonder. I wish Apple would make cell phones. And tv sets. And cars. (Well, okay, Volkswagen might be the Apple of car makers.)

It's infinitely simple to play music on the iPod based on artist, song title, album, music genre, composer, or a personal rating of 1 to 5 stars. But wait, there's more. It also has games, stores contacts (as vCards), and can display text files. The best feature is the "click wheel", however, which feels like the most high-tech invention ever to sit beneath my fingertips.

I'm a late-comer in the iPod movement, but I'm here now and I like it. A lot. Next on the agenda: time to get a dock for my home stereo.
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