iPod MP3 Players

iPod the digital audio player that is so much more.

Apple is the legendary computer manufacturer that put home computers into the public consciousness with a clever combination of design and intuitive layout. Apple entered the MP3 player market bringing the same sensibilities it brought to the home computer. Anyone who has ever bought an iPod MP3 player by Apple knows that one doesn't simply buy a mere MP3 player. To crack the seal on your iPod's box is indoctrination into a distinct esthetic, a religion of elegance and minimalist design with fanatical devotion to human intuition. While unpacking your iPod, simple icons will silently draw you to where you need to go to get your iPod fired up. Rarely will anyone require a single word of documentation. Even if you've never used an iPod or MP3 player before, its form is devoted to instinctive function.

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It's this cultish devotion to elegance and simplicity that has created legions of loyal fans to the Apple iPod. The marketing genius of Apple has successfully turned a consumer electronics device into something so much more than a gadget that plays MP3s. They've created a hip lifestyle accessory with a chameleon-like adaptability to any facet of youth culture.

The gadgets themselves are well designed and easy to use. The Nomad Jukebox by Creative was a 6-GB hard drive-based giant in the portable MP3 player market just before the iPod came along. But the Nomad with its deep functionality and clunky menu after embedded menu tried to be a portable PC that allowed you to do everything. The iPod changed that by offering only the most basic, simple functionality. It may lack the ability to create and name play lists on the fly and other functions you can do from the iTunes desktop software, but the iPod allows you to do only what you need to be able to do- select and playback the music you want, quickly and easily.

From the iPod you can select playlists, have access to simple features like an adjustable equalizer. The touch sensitive control wheel is a functional marvel of design. The basic look of this 20 GB device is pleasing to the eye even before peppering it with any of the infinite assortment of accessories. The iPod's circular wheel, placed under a proportionately balanced square LCD screen, fits inside an elegant softly squared body. Altogether a mathematically precise design that melts the heart and begs shoppers to spend that $300 it takes to own one.

There is a quality device inside that well designed box. The headphone output on the iPod is one of the best in the business. A virtual cottage industry has developed out of creating the perfect headphone for the iPod- thanks to its high current headphone output. Today's third generation iPod's are joined by other designs by Apple as it branches out into different directions.

Rom players like the iPod shuffle begin at $99 for 512 MB of storage. The iPod mini is the 4 or 6 GB lower end version of the iPod with a slightly smaller body and the same thumbwheel navigation and design. The iPod mini has now been replaced by the new iPod nano, slightly smaller than the mini without the 6 GB version. Nano comes in 2 and 4 GB flavors and every one has a 1.5 inch color LCD display on the top. The iPod has also branched out into higher end quality with the iPod photo, a photo viewer with up to 60 gigs of storage capacity. The photo looks identical to the traditional iPod except its LCD screen is in full color.

The iPod is still the undisputed champion of the MP3 player. Nobody yet has managed to create a player that sounds as nice or with as successful a design marriage between form and function. Apple strives to hang on to this title. Several would be iPod killers' work ceaselessly in the wings waiting for Apple's misstep. iRiver's H10 shows the most promise offering a few extra features for the same price as the iPod. Other manufacturer's like Rio's Carbon and Karma attack the iPod from the price front offering a slightly better value. But for now, iPod is still king.