Apple Jazzes Up iPod

By Michael Miller  |  Posted 2004-07-20 Print this article Print

Apple introduced new versions of its popular iPod music player that give more capacity for the dollar, better battery life, and a better scroll wheel. (PC Magazine)

This week, Apple introduced new versions of its popular iPod music player that give more capacity for the dollar, better battery life, and a better scroll wheel.

The result is the fourth-generation iPod. Changes in this version arent as radical as with the iPod mini introduced last year, but they look like nice enhancements that should make iPod fans happy. This version adopts the best feature of the mini—its thin profile and the excellent scroll wheel.

The new models include a 20GB version for $299 and a 40GB for $399. Pricing has definitely improved—the 20GB version will replace a 15GB model that was offered at the same price. Apples Web site is taking orders for these now, and Apple stores are expected to get the players later this week.

From a hardware perspective, the most obvious change is a clickable wheel like that on the iPod mini. This gives more feedback than the wheel used on older iPods, so many people find it easier to use. In addition, the new unit is about 1 mm thinner than previous iPods.

Apple says these units will deliver up to 12 hours of playback on a charge compared with the 8 of the earlier generation. Apple product manager Christi Wilkerson says the difference is mostly due to software modifications that enable lower power consumption. You can quick-charge the unit to 80 percent of total capacity in about 2 hours. A full charge takes about 4.

Other changes include some new playlist options, which incorporate an addition to the main menu called Shuffle Songs that randomly selects songs from your library. (You can still shuffle songs from a playlist, of course.) Another new feature lets you save your "on-the-go" playlists, which will sync with iTunes. Theres even an option that lets you adjust the speed of audio books, now.

For insights on Apple and Macintosh coverage around the Web, check out Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog. The unit includes USB 2.0 and FireWire (IEEE 1394) connections for both charging and syncing—a big benefit for Windows users. Connectors remain the same as those of previous versions. Youll also find the current version of Apples iTunes software, which in recent months has added support for the Apple lossless compression codec. In a break from the past, though, neither unit includes a remote for the earphones. The 40GB version comes with a dock; the 20GB does not.

Unlike some competing players, this one does not have an FM tuner or broadcaster, nor can it record audio. Instead, Apple points to the large number of third-party iPod options. The updated units use the same connectors, so all of those options should work.

Over the next few days, well be testing our new iPod. Check back for more. In the meantime, check out our slideshow for more details.

Check out eWEEK.coms Macintosh Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise.

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Michael J. Miller is Executive Vice President and Editorial Director of Ziff Davis Media Inc., where he takes an active role in corporate editorial issues, helps identify new editorial needs in the marketplace and shapes the editorial process of every Ziff Davis Media publication.

He joined the company in 1991 as Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine. Under Miller's supervision, PC Magazine has grown to have the largest readership of any technology publication in the world, at 5.9 million readers. He oversaw the redesign of PC Magazine, the launch of and an expansion of PC Magazine Labs, the largest computer testing lab run by any publication.

Prior to joining PC Magazine, Miller was editor-in-chief of InfoWorld, which he joined as executive editor in 1985. Previously, he was the West Coast Bureau Chief for Popular Computing, and Senior Editor for Building Design & Construction.

An experienced public speaker and veteran technology journalist, Miller has become the 'spokesperson' for the technology industry. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including being named to Medill's Alumni Hall of Achievement. In 2002, Mr. Miller was named the number one consumer/computer journalist by Technology Marketing magazine.

Mr. Miller holds a Master of Science degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.


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