The 4th Generation iPod by Apple

4th Generation
I’ve had my 4th generation 40 gigabyte iPod for about 6 months now and I am very happy with it. I was hesistant at first to purchase an iPod because of its seemingly steep price. During my search for an mp3 player I noticed iPod was one of the most expensive ones I found. However I’ve come to learn that most expensive products are expensive for a good reason and that is their quality. I tested out a few other hard-drive based mp3 players (Creative Labs one and one by Dell) and not only did I find the iPod the easiest to use, but I found the sound quality to be the best of the bunch. In the end I decided to spend the extra 50 dollars or so to get the quality.

The Timing of the Purchase
The timing of my iPod purchase was both good and bad. I read on several internet sites over the summer that Apple was poised to make a big announcement about the iPod and to wait to buy one until the news broke. Well, break it did, with the announcement of the 4th generation iPod. The main changes with this new model include that the 4 buttons that used to be found right below the screen of the other iPod are now integrated into the click wheel (an idea that comes straight from the success Apple had using this with their iPod mini). Also new and important to me was much improved battery performance. I had been reading that if iPod had an Achilles’ heal that was it. However the 4th generation iPod has great battery life, especially if you do things like turn off the illumination on the screen whenever you click the wheel, and use playlists instead of scrolling through songs.

Anyways I was happy that I waited to purchase my iPod until this 4th generation version came out. However I was a little disappointed when just a few months after my purchase Apple decided to release another new iPod, this one with a color screen. Not that big a deal, it’s essentially the same at the iPod I own (just with the ability to store and browse pictures), but it would have been nice had I known that would have been an option. To anyone out there looking to buy an iPod I would definitely say to check out websites such as thinksecret.com to check to make sure Apple isn’t planning on coming out with a new version right before you buy one….for example Apple just recently released the new iPod shuffle (a flash memory based iPod), and thinksecret knew about it weeks in advance.

Do I Really Need 40 Gigs of Space?
Well that obviously depends mostly on how much music you have. Myself I had around 12 gigabytes, filing up less then half the 40 gigabyte capacity. I decided on the 40 gig model over the less expensive (and slightly thinner) 20 gig model because I wanted plenty of room for future expansion. At only $100 more for the extra 20 gigabytes it seemed like a very good deal. In hindsight I’m glad I did choose the 40 gig model because my collection is already up to around 17 gigabytes after putting a lot of my CDs into mp3 format and putting them on the iPod. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get up to 40 gigabytes, but if iTunes has anything to say I surely will. More on that later. For those with bigger needs which to me is almost unthinkable, the newer color screen iPod also comes in a 60 gigabyte model.

iTunes
At first I didn’t like the idea of using iTunes. It wasn’t that I didn’t like anything about it, it was just that I was used to using MusicMatch software for my mp3 collection and didn’t want to learn something new. However with the iPod you pretty much have to use iTunes, and it definitely ended up growing on me. After a little bit of a pain transfering all my music into iTunes and reorganizing it, I found cool features like iTunes automatically finding multiple copies of songs and asking if you’d like to delete one copy.

When you have 17 gigabytes of music, it’s pretty hard to organize effectively. iTunes however makes it pretty easy. I decided to organize my music by genres so it was easier to navigate on the actual iPod where you can’t just type a name in (you can scroll through all the artist or song names which is pretty simple still). I recommend breaking your music collection into genres within iTunes to make it easier to navigate. Easier still is using iTunes feature to make playlists. This feature is great because you can make the playlist on your computer and as soon as you plug your iPod in via USB cable, firewire cable, or docking station, it automatically transfers whatever you did with iTunes over to your iPod. You can also make on the go playlists on your iPod that automatically transfer back to your computer. I find myself listening to music now that I had forgotten about the past 10 years of my life, it’s great.

The online store version of iTunes is also something I love now. I was used to using the peer to peer networks before they became illegal and started shutting down. I was hesistant to pay for mp3s when I had been getting them for free, but at 99 cents a song, it’s really a pretty good deal. I like it especially because you know you are getting a perfect quality version of the song you want as opposed to the peer to peer networks where it was really hit or miss. iTunes has nearly every song out there to buy (I hear rumors the Beatles collection is coming soon) and gives great suggestions based on your previous purchases. I love listening to the samples of every song too before I purchase it.

My one gripe with the online store is that you have to download the songs you buy not in mp3 format, but in something called “Apple Lossless Encoding”. The quality of these files as I said are great, but the problem is that you can’t play them on any other mp3 player besides an iPod! This is a pain when I go to workout with my small flash-based mp3 player and can’t listen to my new songs I downloaded. The only way to get around this that I can find is to burn these songs to a CD and re-rip them onto your computer in mp3 format, that is a pain. I guess I’ll just have to shell out the $99 for the new iPod Shuffle (their new flash based mp3 player I mentioned above).

In Closing
Certainly the iPod isn’t for everyone, particularly if you’re on a tight budget and don’t need huge amounts of space for music on the go. However if you are in the market for a hard-drive based mp3 player I would definitely get the iPod that best suits your needs. It’s great having your ENTIRE music collection literally in the palm of your hand, easily accessible through Apple’s genius click wheel. The sound quality is great and the iPod body is sleek and stylish. With the improved battery life, I found mine usually last around 10 hours without a recharge, the 4th generation iPod is definitely the way to go. I bought it for a drive out to California from Cleveland, and it was perfect, I didn’t come close to hearing any song twice on song shuffle mode. Before you buy though definitely check that thinksecret.com site to make sure a new version isn’t just around the corner.

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