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Apple IPod

Apple's iPod looks more like a prop from Star Trek than an MP3 player. The player is a display of Apple styling at its best, with the polished stainless steel back seeming mirror-like and the white acrylic face giving it the trademark Apple touch. Over all, the iPod measures 2.43 by 4.02 by 0.78 inches, weighs in at 6.5 ounces and feels very similar to a slightly heavy deck of playing cards.

The front of the unit is dominated by the iPod's large, 2-inch, 160x128, 0.24mm dot pitch, backlight screen and very intuitive scroll wheel interface device. Flipping the iPod over reveals only product information which is stylishly etched in the steel.

Once powered up, the iPod's screen comes to life brilliantly. We were more than impressed with the quality of the LCD, as text and graphics appeared dark and crisp. The display seemed to hold a dpi advantage over even more advanced LCD displays, such as the one found in the grayscale Palm devices. The iPod display does not appear to be completely black and white, as the charging screen shows 2 levels of grayscale (being white, light gray, dark gray, and black). The gray color is not used frequently in the interface, only appearing during song playback to fill in a time elapsed bar.

The backlighting of the iPod's display was equally as impressive. Turning on the backlight on the display causes the display to glow white, matching the iPod's color motif quite nicely. Unfortunately, taking a picture of the backlight display did not work as planned, but it does look brilliant.

The other item dominating the face of the iPod are the controls. Centered around a circle that encompasses the majority of the width of the iPod, all of the iPod's features are controlled with 6 buttons. The bottom button acts as a play/pause button as well as the off switch on the unit if held down for three seconds. The buttons located on the left and right side of the iPod serve as track skip buttons if pressed and released and act as seek buttons if held down. The top button on the unit, titled the menu button, acts like a back button. Hitting the button once will take you back one level in the iPod's interface until the root menu is displayed on screen. Holding down the menu button for two seconds turns on or off the display's backlight for a user definable amount of time.

The button found in the middle of the unit acts as an enter key of sorts, allowing the user to select a function. Hitting this button in the "Now Playing" screen switches the time display from time elapsed to time remaining. Navigation through the menu systems is achieved using the scroll wheel, which is rotated clockwise to move down and counterclockwise to move up. The wheel has acceleration, so initially the display scrolls slowly but gradually gets faster the more rapidly the wheel is turned. This comes in quite handy, especially when you have lots of songs to navigate through. This wheel also serves as the volume control while in the "Now Playing" screen.

The controls are laid out in such a way that one hand operation of the unit is not only possible but also natural. With the hand resting on the back of the iPod, the user's thumb is able to access every button, from the scroll wheel to the play button.

The final item in the package is the travel charger. When the iPod is connected to a computer it is powered by the firewire connection but on trips a computer is not always available. To solve this problem, Apple includes a travel charger with the iPod that can be plugged into any outlet. Power to the unit is brought via the same firewire cable used on the computer. One nice aspect of the charger is the ability to change the socket connection depending on the plugs available in your area.

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IC9700 Apple

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