SMALL BUT VERSATILE: When equipped with accessories, the iPod music player can also make voice recordings, function as an alarm clock, and broadcast songs to your home or car stereo. Image: JOHN FRASER
I'm an iPod convert. When I first spotted people carrying the now ubiquitous portable music players made by Apple Computer, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Sure, I liked the fact that the iPod's hard drive could hold thousands of songs as MP3 files, but the device didn't seem so revolutionary. I expected other companies to quickly introduce MP3 players that were just as good as the iPod or better. (And maybe cheaper, too--the latest top-of-the-line iPod, with 40 gigabytes of memory, costs $399.) It's just a commodity, I thought--a Walkman with lots of storage space.
But after trying the iPod for a few weeks, I soon discovered the appeal of its smart, user-friendly design. I loved how each device could be customized into a personal library of music, with the songs classified according to idiosyncratic playlists. Before I got my iPod, my favorite music was scattered among hundreds of CDs gathering dust in disorganized cabinets, but after a few hours of downloading, the soundtrack of my life was now contained in one sleek little package. I even liked the feel of the device, the way I could browse through the selections or adjust the volume by simply rubbing my thumb along the scroll wheel. I quickly grew disdainful of more primitive technologies such as portable CD players. Whenever I saw someone on the street with a Walkman or a Discman, I'd think, "Oh, that is so last century."
This article was originally published with the title More Than Just Music.