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Holiday iPods

November 24, 2009
By Dave Hecei,

I hate to admit, but I have more than one iPod. For many Mac owners, and even PC music lovers, this is not uncommon. My favorite iPod was the original, which has been overshadowed by models that have color displays and larger capacities. Over the years - yes the iPod has been around for eight years - I have updated with newer models. There are several new iPods, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses, but there is a model out there perfect for you.

Starting with the lowest price and working up we find the new Shuffle. This model is the only iPod without a display. This fall, Apple released the third generation of the Shuffle and they added a new twist, something they call VoiceOver. Without a display you have no way of knowing what song is what. With VoiceOver, the Shuffle actually speaks to you, announcing information like album title, track name, artist, etc. This voice is not actually coming from the Shuffle electronics. It is added to the tracks by the iTunes software.

To get the third generation Shuffle even smaller than the last, which was pretty tiny, Apple removed the control buttons from the unit. The controls are now part of the headphones that come with the Shuffle it's about midway in the earbud cable. This is both good and bad. The good is that you can tuck the Shuffle in your pocket, or wherever, and control it remotely. The bad part is still the Apple earbuds. Thankfully, other manufacturers have stepped up and created Shuffle compatible headphones with the same remote controls.

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Next up in the iPod lineup is the new Nano. This is the most popular iPod bar none. The Nano is now in its fifth generation and has changed quite a bit over the last few years (the Nano is based on the original iPod Mini). This latest version is similar to the fourth gen model, in size and style, but Apple has added everything but the kitchen sink.

The new Nano has a camera, which is not for stills but for full motion video. The Nano is not going to replace your camcorder or even one of the new Flip HD cameras, mainly because the Nano only shoots standard def video. It does shoot decent SD video, which you can then upload to your web site or to places like YouTube. Also added to the Nano is an FM radio receiver, built-in speaker, and pedometer.

The iPod Classic is the only model that has even any resemblance to the original iPod. This is also the only model that has a spinning hard drive for storage all other iPods have Flash Memory. This will also likely be the last hard-drive based iPod since Flash Memory is rapidly replacing it. With 160 GB of storage, the Classic is perfect for the person who wants to carry everything with them. This could be their entire music catalog or tons of games, TV shows, and movies. The Classic can even do double duty as a portable hard drive for your Mac.

The last iPod in the line-up is the Touch. This is also the most unique iPod and may well be the best iPod ever made. Looking at the Touch you can easily mistake it for the ubiquitous Apple iPhone. It shares more than just good looks with the iPhone; it uses the exact same operating system. This allows it to run most all of the iPhone applications, or iPhone Apps.

Apps are what make the Touch such an amazing device. Instead of just being an iPod, it is actually more of a small handheld computer. The Touch has no camera (yet), GPS, or cellular network connection. As long as the App doesn't require these features it will run on the Touch.

The screen is also what makes the Touch, well the Touch. Like the iPhone, the Touch has an amazing touch sensitive color LCD screen. The iPod part of the Touch is also amazing. The touch interface is perfect for navigating through all your music and videos. CoverFlow has been around for a while now, but it still mesmerizes me as I quickly skim through a music library. It is also great for viewing your iPhoto library. With just a flick of you finger you can quickly flip through hundreds of digital photos. Rotating the Touch allows you to change orientation of the photo, allowing horizontal and vertical shots to fill the widescreen display.

The Touch is rapidly becoming the gamer's choice for handhelds. Even Nintendo is starting to feel the pressure from the iPhone/Touch. With so many great games available on the iPhone App Store, it's not hard to find a cool game. While there are some great free games, along with hundreds of other great free software, the big guns like EA Sports, ID Software, and others have brought their games to the Touch. Many big named games are available under $10.

The other thing that makes the Touch great is Safari. This is Apple's web browser that is included with OS X on all Macs. Instead of a 'lite' browser, this is a full web browser, which allows you to navigate to practically any web site on the Internet. I say practically because the one thing missing is Flash, Adobe's multimedia platform that allows for interactive web sites. Flash is also now used quite extensively for videos. Sites like Hulu, YouTube, etc. use Flash encoded videos. At least for YouTube there is a workaround. There is an App included with the Touch for searching and watching YouTube videos.

To surf the web, the Touch has wireless WiFi networking built-in. This allows you to access the Internet wherever an open WiFi connection is available, or through other WiFi hotspots, even those that require logging in. Basic Apps includes: E-Mail, chat, photos, iCal, stocks, Google Maps, voice memos, and many others.

The Shuffle is available in two sizes, 2 GB and 4 GB, and in six colors. Prices start at $59. The Nano is available with 8 and 16 GB of storage and nine colors. Prices start at $149. The Classic only has one size, 160 GB and two colors for $249. The Touch is available in three storage sizes: 8, 32, and 64 GB. Prices start at $199.

For more Mac news, tips, and other info, don't forget to check out my Mac Blog along with other great Blogs.



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