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What's an iPod? The lowdown

Krish Iyer | October 24, 2005

Whenever, wherever
we're meant to be together
I'll be there and you'll be near...

When Shakira crooned these words, she definitely wasn't referring to gadgets that would one day make music as portable as human beings. Say hello to iPods that now go with us everywhere.

'i' what...? That was my reaction when I heard about iPods for the first time. So I decided to decode the mystery surrounding iPods.

image What is an iPod?

Cassettes hold 10-12 songs. Compact discs hold 16-20 songs. An iPod, depending on its memory capacity, holds at least 500 songs! Get the drift?

The iPod refers to a class of portable digital audio players designed and marketed by Apple Computers. It stores and plays music, but without the aid of cassettes or discs.

You can attach a set of headphones to your iPod and listen to music like you would listen to your Discman or Walkman. And, like your computer, this device also stores music and information. 

The amount of music you store in an iPod is directly related to the memory of its hard drive or flash drive and can vary according to the model. But more on that later.  

Let's get back to our definition of an iPod. In a nutshell, it's a music player that is big enough to hold your music and small enough to slip into your shirt pocket or even into a chewing gum packet!

iPods are more than just music players. They have a host of features that effectively act like a portable hard drive and can store a lot of information. These include:

~ Music
Store and listen to music all day long or as long as your battery lasts. From 100 songs to more than 10,000 songs, the iPod's capacity varies but the fun doesn't! Connect your ear phones or head phones to the iPod and start grooving.

~ Podcasts
Download and listen to music from podcast directories. Podcasting is a method of publishing audio broadcasts via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a set of new files (usually MP3s). It allows users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files, usually free. Podcast directories are a list of songs and other radio like shows that have been uploaded on to the Iinternet which can be downloaded to your iPod and heard.

Here are some Podcasting sites you might want to check out: Podcast Alley, iPodderX, PublicRadioFan, and

~ Photos
Store photos transferred either directly from your camera or your computer. This way, the memory cards in your digital cameras will not get flooded with pictures. For more on how to do this, and a number of features mentioned below, your iPod manual is an extremely user-friendly guide.

~ Calendar and contacts
Keep a tab on all your dates and appointments and also maintain a directory of your phone numbers.

~ World clock
Stay abreast of the time around the world.  Personalise your iPod to show different country timings and zones. The clock feature also lets you set alarms to ensure you are on time for all your chores.

~ Games
Play games if the music doesn't satisfy your appetite for fun.

How does all this work?

When you buy an iPod, it is empty space that you have purchased. This space can be utilised for the features supported by the iPod.

i. The concept of iTunes comes in here. iTunes is the software provided by Apple to transfer music from your computer to the iPod. The iTunes installer CD is provided by Apple free of cost when you buy an iPod.

The iTunes software is like a music manager installed on your computer. It stores all the songs your computer has and makes it easy to transfer them to your portable device, the iPod. This is the only way to transfer music from your computer to your iPod.

ii. Now that the music is on the computer, let's see how to transfer it to the iPod. This happens through your computer's Universal Serial Bus port 2.0, a plug-and-play interface between a computer and add-on devices (such as mobile phones, audio players, scanners and printers). The USB port is now available on all computers, but, if your machine is older and has no ports,
try this. The USB acts as a buffer between the computer and the iPod and facilitates transfer of information.

In essence, the iPod has to be connected to some other device for it to gain information.

What more can I do with my iPod?

Your iPod is like clay, which can be modeled into anything you like. This means that, since the iPod is just memory space or a hard drive, we can use a lot of applications on it (do different things with it) as long as it is compatible with the device. 

All these applications mentioned below are accessories and hence have to purchased separately at iPod stores or downloaded from the Internet.

A programme that helps you record your own voice or anything you want on the device.

An FM transmitter which when, connected to your iPod and tuned into a local radio station, enables you to listen to your iPod in your car.

Media Reader
A software that helps you transfer and store photos from your camera to your iPod.

iPod Wizard
This programme lets you modify the graphics and fonts that come with your iPod so that, for example, you are greeted by your own company logo or a photo when you start it up.

Models and figures

Apple has a variety of Apple models that would suit almost all budget sizes.

iPod Shuffle
512 Mb priced at Rs 5,000
1 Gb priced at Rs 7,500

The iShuffles are base model players and hence you cannot view photographs on them unlike the other higher end models. 

iPod Nano
2 Gb priced at Rs 10,000
4 Gb priced at Rs 12,000

This product is pretty slick in size and looks.

20 Gb priced at Rs 15,000
60 Gb priced at Rs 20,000

If the price of the 60 Gb iPod has stunned you, let me give you an example.  Most of the personal computers used have a memory space of anything between 20 to 40 Gb. So, at 60 Gb, this player is a monster. 

iPod u2
20 Gb priced at Rs 18,000.

This one is a special edition with signatures of the rock band U2 inscribed at the back. To pay more just for certain rock stars' signatures may not entice everyone.

Me and my iPod

Wondering when to you use your iPod? Here are some ideas.

During your commute
Get ready for the day ahead with some music, played through your car speakers or,  if you're on the bus or train, through a pair of headphones.

At work
~ Store files to take home or for a review with a client.

~ Keep your calendar, contacts and to-do lists on your iPod.

~ Show clients your entire product line when you make sales calls.

At home
~ Connect iPod to powered speakers or a stereo system.

~ Purchase music or subscribe to free podcasts from the iTunes Music Store. Download music and podcasts to your iTunes Manager on your computer and transfer it to your iPod through your computer.

~ Just like you can connect your iPod to your stereo system, you can also connect your iPod to your television to either see the information or listen to the music stored on the device.

On campus
~ Listen to music between classes.

~ Don't miss class: Use iPod's built-in Alarm Clock.

~ Take files from your home computer to a computer lab or vice versa.

On vacation
~ Going on a trek? Extend battery life with the optional backup battery  pack. This pack is powered by the normal AA sized batteries that are easily available.

~ Download guides to restaurants and other attractions. Get the information on your computer and then you can transfer it to your iPod before you set out for your vacation.

~ Free space on your memory cards by copying digital images to your iPod hard drive with the iPod Camera Connector.

Top 5 Mp3 players

Do you need an iPod? Click here!

Share your comments

 What do you think about the story?

Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 16

Sub: IPod Lowdown

A word of caution to IPod users.If your Itunes Library is empty and you import fresh set of songs and then update your IPod,then the ...

Posted by S Chandrasekhar

Sub: Insert Figures of ipod

Its useful if u publish relevant figures of ipod with their prices and extended features

Posted by Prasanna

Sub: very helpful info.

hi, i was looking forward 2 buy an ipod nano in the near future. at the right time i went thru d article. very valuable ...

Posted by shekar

Sub: ipod video...

Now Apple has released Video Ipods in US. These come with a 2.5\" screen and holds (depending on the size of storage capacity you buy ...

Posted by suri

Sub: Too costly.......

All wat an iPOD offers can be availed in various USB-Flash Drive cum MP3/WMA audio players.. All are cost effective and more smaller in size ...

Posted by Shalabh Katdare


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