Apple Buyer's Guide: iTunes And iPods Put Media In Your Pocket - InformationWeek

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner

Apple Buyer's Guide: iTunes And iPods Put Media In Your Pocket

Apple's iPods and iTunes offer a rich toolkit for your audio and video entertainment.

Apple pretty much owns the market for portable music and video. Its audio and video offerings are a complete ecosystem. Buy your audio and video from the iTunes Store, manage it with iTunes software on the desktop, and watch and listen on the go with an iPod.

The iPod is the most important element of Apple's audio and video line. Apple recently did a refresh of its iPods, and models now range from the petite, stylish, $79 iPod Shuffle, to the $399 iPod Touch, a Wi-Fi enabled device that's kind of like an iPhone without the phone bits.

An iPod For Every Pocket

The Touch is the jewel in Apple's iPod crown. It looks like an iPhone and has a lot of the same capabilities. Main difference: It doesn't work as a phone. But it plays music and videos, and you can use it to surf the Internet over Wi-Fi, just as you can with the iPhone. It's priced at $299 for an 8-Gbyte unit and $399 for a 16-Gbyte unit. It comes in black and silver.

The newly-introduced iPod Touch features the iPhone's multitouch user interface and incorporates Wi-Fi wireless networking.
(click image for larger view)

The newly-introduced iPod Touch features the iPhone's multitouch user interface and incorporates Wi-Fi wireless networking.

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The Touch, due to be available this month, looks like a nice alternative to the iPhone. It's an iPhone for people who already are happy with their cell phone arrangements.

This especially goes for business users. As a rule, businesses aren't going to be supplying their people with iPhones, because the iPhone lacks native support for Microsoft Exchange. Likewise, the iPhone's built-in camera will be a turn-off for businesses and government agencies, who hate cameraphones for security reasons. The Touch will be a way for business users to get the iPhone magic while still keeping their IT departments happy.

The iPod Classic is a descendant of the very first iPods that shipped six years ago. It's the iPod you want to buy if you need to store a lot of music and video -- or use the iPod as a portable hard drive for your desktop computer. It's priced at $249 for an 80-Gbyte model that holds 20,000 songs, or $349 for an 160-Gbyte model that holds 40,000 songs. It comes in white and black.

The next step down from the Classic is the iPod Nano. It's square and boxy. It supports video playback in addition to music. It's priced at $149 for a 4-Gbyte unit that holds 1,000 songs, or $199 for an 8-Gbyte unit that holds 2,000 songs. It comes in silver, blue, red, green, and black.

The iPod Shuffle is a tiny square. A photo on the Apple Web site shows that it's smaller than the coin pocket in a pair of blue jeans. It has 1 Gbyte of storage, holding up to 240 songs, and has a clip built into the case so you can attach it to your clothes. It doesn't play video, just music. It comes in five colors: Silver, blue, red, green, and purple.

If you don't want to get an iPod, our reviewer Don Reisinger looked at eight iPod alternatives, and found some of them to be attractive.

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