Tuesday, April 08, 2008
When it comes to electronic gadgets Apple's iPod pretty much sets the standard these days. When the iPod first appeared in the marketplace it was the major portable digital audio player available. More commonly called MP3 players, the class of device that the iPod falls into were extremely appealing because they appeared at a time then the best way to listen to music while carrying it on one's person was using an audio cassette deck or a portable CD player. In the case of the audio cassette deck (more commonly called a Walkman after Sony's name for its version of the device) this meant carrying a single cassette inside of the device that could only carry about an hour of music. Most audio tapes stored single albums by a specific artist or group and making a mix tape took time, was inconvenient, and could only be played in a fixed order.
The portable CD player was worse in many ways. Unlike a Walkman, portable CD players would have their playback interrupted by sudden jolts that made then less than ideal to listen to while running or mountain biking. Plus, with the technology that was in use before MP3 players were introduced, it wasn't possible to make custom CD's. One advantage that portable CD players did have was the ability to randomize the order in which the songs were played back and often exclude specific songs from ever being played on some models.
With these gadgets as competition, the iPod was an instant hit. Since music could be downloaded on a song by song basis from iTunes, the iPod could play a variety of music more economically than would be possible by buying an entire album just for a few songs. The iPod allowed for customized play lists or random playback, and could store hours upon hours of music. iPods also have excellent battery life and aren't subject to skipping in their playback when jolted.
Now the iPod line has grown to offer a variety of different options. The smallest model is the iPod Shuffle which is about the same size as the body of a large wrist watch and can store about two hundred and fifty songs. The device can be set to shuffle the songs- thus its name- or play them back in a set order.
The iPod Nano is a larger, though still extremely portable, model that can store even more songs and has a color LCD screen that's capable of displaying digital photos and album art. The Nano is a good gadget for people who want more options, but still don't want a very large device.
The Video iPod can perform all of the functions of the first two models, plus it can display video on its larger color LCD screen. The Video iPod is also different because it uses a conventional hard disk for storing its media instead of flash memory.
Even though its more properly classified as a smart phone, the iPhone also falls into the iPod lineup. That's because, included with all of its other functions, is a video iPod. The iPhone has less storage capacity than the stand alone video iPod, but it has a wide view screen and can be used to view streaming video from the Internet as well as from its built in storage.
With all of these features and options available, the iPod remains one of the leading gadgets.