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The Gift Of Music

November 29, 2010
By Dave Hecei,

Thanksgiving has come and gone, along with that other annual spectacle - Black Friday. Of course this means that the holiday shopping season is in full swing. The one thing that is on most kid's lists (kids young and old) is an iPod. There are several iPod models in varying price points and each has their strong suits.

We'll start with the lowest priced iPod. At a mere $49, the new iPod Shuffle is small in price and size. This is the 4th generation Shuffle, which Apple updated back in September. It no longer looks like a slim stick of gum but more like the second generation Shuffle. It has the standard push buttons for play/pause, forward, back, volume up, and volume down.

The one thing the Shuffle doesn't have (and this applies to all generations of the Shuffle) is a display. Apple gets around this by adding "VoiceOver." Just push the VoiceOver button and the Shuffle will announce the song title or artists that you are listening to. You can also have it tell you what playlist you are on. VoiceOver can even tell you if the battery needs charging.

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The design of the Shuffle is also ingenious. Built into the Shuffle is a large clip. This lets you attach it practically anywhere. You can clip it to a pocket, shirt, strap, belt, or jacket. The Shuffle measures only 1.14 by 1.24 inches and weighs less than half an ounce. It has 2GB of storage and is available in five colors.

Not much bigger than the Shuffle is the new iPod Nano. The Nano has also changed quite a bit from the previous model. The Nano still has a color screen to but it is now a touch screen. Like the Shuffle, the new Nano now has a built-in clip. The Nano also has a built-in FM radio with a special feature. While listening to an FM station you can pause it and resume it later - it has a 15-minute buffer.

The new Nano has the Apple 30-pin iPod dock connector allowing it to connect to many of iPod Dock accessories available. However, there is one major thing missing in the new Nano. While it does have a great color touch screen, the Nano does not play video files, something the past Nanos could do. While this is also a multi-touch screen with icons like the iPhone, there are no Apps like the iPhone. There is a cute feature in the Nano. If you are listening to a song you can shake it and it will "shuffle" to a new track.

The Nano is a great music player, since that's all it does. There are no Apps and no video playback. It is, however, very small and light and the screen allows you to easily see and control your music library. The Nano starts at $149 with 8GB of storage and $179 for 16GB, which is a better deal. It is available in seven colors.

The one iPod that tops most everyone's list is the new iPod Touch. While it is definitely an iPod, the Touch is actually more a portable handheld computer. The Touch lives in the same world as the ubiquitous iPhone. Let's face it, the Touch is basically an iPhone without the phone (and GPS).

Most all of the Apps that run on the iPhone will run exactly the same on the Touch. Looking at the new Touch from a slight distance makes it difficult to pick it out from the last generation iPhone, the 3GS. It has the same sleek rounded form and is practically identical in size.

While the new Touch may not look like the new iPhone 4, it does have many of the same components. It has the same 3.5-inch touch screen that Apple calls the Retina display and it is one of the highest density pixel count displays available. It shows 960 by 640 pixels at an astounding 326 pixels per inch. Text in a high-end glossy magazine is usually only 300 dots per inch.

The processor, or the brains, in the Touch is the new Apple A4 chip. This is the same chip that is in the iPhone 4 and the iPad. There is also a front facing video camera, which is used for video conferencing, and a still/HD video camera on the back. While the still camera function is disappointing, the 720p HD video it produces is pretty decent.

The Touch does not have 3G data access, but then there are no extra monthly charges associated with the Touch. It does have wireless b/g/n for easy access to the Internet. Pair this with Safari, a full-blown web browser, and the Touch is an amazing Internet device. Just connect to a WiFi network to surf the Internet, chat, blog, tweet, and e-mail. It's easy. When you're done online then you can check out the over 300,000 apps available on the App Store. Here's a big hint, gaming is huge on the Touch.

The Touch comes in any color you want, as long as it's black (sorry Mr. Ford). It comes in three storage sizes - 8GB, 32GB, and 64GB and priced at $229, $299, and $399 respectively.

The iPod is still No. 1 in music. The Touch is even becoming number one in portable gaming. Whatever you are looking for in a music/media player, Apple has an iPod that is right for you.



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