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Seduced by dreams of having my entire CD collection in my pocket, I have finally got around to buying an Apple iPod.
I opted for the 40GB version, which I bought from Advanced MP3 Players for £374 (inclusive) and was delighted to receive the player within 24 hours of placing my order.
The iPod packaging is exotic, a black box with a simple, white Apple logo on top. It opens from the middle, like a cardboard "jack-in-a-box", to reveal two white lids with "Designed by Apple in California" emblazoned on the right-hand panel. Opening the lids reveals the iPod itself, on the right, wrapped in a sealed, anti-static bag and, on the left, a white cardboard box with a simple "Enjoy" printed upon it.
The "Enjoy" box contains the manuals and a CD-ROM with iTunes and the iPod software. Beneath this box, the dock, cables, headphones, remote control, FireWire cable (and adapter), a UK mains adapter and transformer (for charging), a hard carrying case (with belt clip), a soft pouch (not sure what this is for) and a couple of blanking plates for the iPod's FireWire port can all be found.
“the iPod is exquisite”
What can I write that hasn't already been written a million times? The iPod is exquisite. The pure white fascia and polished aluminium back compliment each other perfectly. The LCD is just the right size for the information it conveys. The touch-sensitive controls are responsive and perfectly engineered. The user-interface and navigation are sublime (after a few minutes of use, I found I could navigate to any one of 3,000+ tracks in just a few seconds). The manual is virtually unnecessary.
I was surprised by both how small and how light the iPod is.
Of course, the quality of sound reproduction is the most important consideration with any audio player and the iPod doesn't disappoint. The in-ear headphones that accompany the iPod have a frequency range of 20Hz - 20,000Hz (matching the range of human hearing) and use neodymium drivers. The sound quality is, to my ears, superb. Bass is good from such a small source, the mid-range is crisp and clear and the treble is bright with no noticeable hissing.
Dedicated audiophiles might be more demanding than I though. In which case, the iPod can be used with any third-party headphones, even with the pass-through remote in place.
1) The polished back-plate is extremely susceptible to fingerprints and scratches. However, it's mirror-like finish makes possible some great photography:
2) The iPod is inaccessible when it is in the dock, even after synchronisation with iTunes is complete. This is a real shame - it would have been significantly more useful if the iPod could be used whilst charging in the dock, even if not while synchronising.
3) When transferring tracks from the PC to the iPod, there is no visual indication of progress on the iPod itself. This really irritated me initially, until I realised the iTunes indicates the progress of the transfer.
4) Battery life - I don't know yet, I haven't used it for long enough to exhaust the battery - but I have read that the 8-hours (under continuous use) claimed by Apple is a lie optimistic. I'm running my iPod with the backlight off (it can always be switched on manually by holding the "MENU" button), in the hope that this will help to extend the time between recharging.
5) The iPod is pure mugger-bait.
As you can see, these criticisms are minor. It's a testament to the iPod's design, to Apple Computer, Inc. and to Jonathan Ive that these trivial negatives are all that I could come up with!
I am now adding a couple of accessories to my shopping list:
I want a case that will offer some protection for the iPod while still leaving the controls accessible. What case do you use and/or recommend?
Is there anything else (books / software / hardware / accessories / etc) I should look at too enhance my "iPod experience"?