Apple iPod Mini


22 Jul 2004

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Product: Portable music player
Price: €269

It’s finally here! Well, almost. One of the most eagerly awaited technology products of the year, Apple’s iPod Mini, finally arrived and I was sent the cool blue version. It is also available in pink, silver, green or gold.

Apple’s iPod is being trumpeted as the world’s number one music player. Earlier this week Hewlett-Packard (HP) boss Carly Fiorina affirmed an alliance with Apple to roll out HP-branded iPod devices this September. Last week Apple founder Steve Jobs revealed that Apple shipped more than 860,000 iPods during the second quarter, representing a 183pc increase in iPod sales over the same quarter last year.

As iPod mini devices begin to ship internationally, Apple this week moved up a gear with the introduction of a new generation of iPods that feature 12-hour battery lives and 40GB of music storage.

However, the new iPod mini belongs firmly in the third generation of Apple’s technology and with 4GB of storage can store 1,000 songs. Potential Irish buyers of the device have to wait only until next week to get their hands on the nifty device but it should be worth the wait.

The first impression of the iPod Mini is that it is just that: miniature – no bigger than a 10-pack of cigarettes.

Sleek and shiny, the device features Apple’s distinctive ‘click wheel’ browsing interface that would silence even the most voluble technophobe. The same click wheel controls the volume and an extremely bright backlit screen makes the search for favourite tunes all the easier.

If Apple was out to win the battle for aesthetics it is definitely on the right track. Instead of users having separate power leads sprawled across their desks, they can simply charge the device through the FireWire or USB 2.0 cable that comes with the device by connecting it to their Mac or PC. Fully charged, the device yields up to eight hours of battery life.

In our rush to use the device, a colleague and I decided to connect the device to an Apple workstation in the design department and see it in action. To our dismay, we discovered that the iPod mini will only work with a Mac that runs on Apple’s OS X operating system or later. Undeterred I hooked the device to my Windows laptop that had some MP3s tucked away. After an installation period of less than five minutes I was ready to go. Using the USB 2.0 cable I had transferred several music files in less than an instant.

The iPod mini comes with a few optional accessories, such as a mini dock for transferring files at your desk and an armband for individuals who may feel like enjoying music as they jog or go to the gym.

The device will appear to individuals that want a good quality music player that won’t break the bank, as well as to the hordes of iTunes users that will break out in Ireland once the iTunes Store opens this October, selling songs at 99 cents each. “That’s actually the last piece in the puzzle,” said an Apple insider, predicting a rapid consumer adoption of the service. In the US last week, the iTunes Store clocked up its 100 millionth music download. The European store is already open for business in Germany, the UK and France, but potential Irish users will have to wait until October to tune in to iTunes.

The iPod mini will cost €269 (incl. Vat) and will be available in Ireland through O2 retail stores, 3G stores Compustore and online at www.apple.com/ie.

By John Kennedy