Pod Primer 

Are you a pod person yet? Maybe this Christmas, you’ll get your own set of ear buds.

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For some, the Apple iPod symbolizes a steep decline in creativity. It grants people who “just listen to the radio” the power to download obscure artists without investing much thought or effort into discovering new sounds. Shortly after Steve Jobs unveiled the portable MP3 player, devoted audiophiles scouring record store bins for rare B-sides and imports slowly vanished like characters in Back to the Future.

Remaining vinyl and cassette fanatics scoffed at mainstream audiences, claiming, “They don’t appreciate artists like Smog'they just heard it was cool to like them.” However, for every wannabe hipster leaching onto passing fads, there are people eager to expand their musical horizons. In fact, those who can’t tell'or don’t care about'the difference between complex analog recording and digital audio reproduction, will find the considerable benefits of modern technology outweigh the trifling cons.

If you plan to swap out your Walkman for an iPod, do your homework. Apple alone boasts an extensive product line that can be difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t know a gigabyte from a trilobite. The new 30GB and 60GB iPod Video models hold up to 15,000 songs, full-color album art and up to 25,000 photos. They are pricier ($399 for the 60GB), slimmer and more colorful than their predecessors but certainly not as compact as the iPod Nano. This business card-size gadget holds 500 songs (2GB) and 1,000 songs (4GB) for $199 and $249 respectively. The Nano also marked the end of the iPod Mini, a perfectly decent device introduced in January 2004. Some people think it was a mistake for Apple to discontinue the Mini, especially since the Nano has a higher price-to-storage ratio. Others find it a more convenient companion for on-the-go activities. Those on a tight budget might want to check out the iPod shuffle. At $99 for 120 songs (512MB), it’s a bargain. Of course, the low storage capacity is incredibly annoying unless you have time to constantly refresh your playlists.

While iPod is the most popular brand on the market, it’s certainly not the only decent MP3 player available for purchase. The Finis SwiMP3 Waterproof MP3 player is an obvious choice for exercise enthusiasts. It’s the only portable MP3 player that’s able to withstand extreme climates. Some users say it sounds even better under water. With a battery life of two to three hours, the SwiMP3 helps keep people entertained during long, intense aquatic workouts.

Since Apple’s FairPlay copy-protection system makes non-Apple technologies, including the now-legal Napster and Microsoft’s Media Player, incompatible with iPods, some people might prefer the Olympus M:ROB, a 5G unit starting at $100, the Samsung YP-F1X 512MB Flash MP3 Player, which holds 120 songs for $109. Both can easily download songs from the abovementioned sites. They cannot, obviously, download songs from iTunes. If you think Apple’s online music store offers enough variety, there’s no reason to bypass the iPod.

Most people consider iPod a better deal in the long run. Besides its sleek design, the market features more accessories customized for Apple products. A wide array of fashionable cases, handy stereo adapters, car chargers, armband holders, speakers and headphones are available online and at local retailers including MacDocs at 1435 S. State, 485-6855.

Once you’ve purchased the hardware, you can upload albums and/or download songs off your mainframe, then transfer them to your portable player. If a friend wants to swap tunes, use a computer hard drive to transfer music. In time, your playlists will reflect a growing appreciation for different genres and possibly nurture a new generation of audiophiles scouring virtual record bins for the rare soundtracks of their lives.

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More by Jamie Gadette

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