capsule review

iPod 20GB

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At a Glance
  • Apple iPod 20GB

The pocket-size iPod is at the top of the digital-music-player market, and with Apple's addition of a 20GB model, its lead is widening.

Apple claims, fairly, that the 20GB iPod can hold approximately 4,000 songs compressed at 160 Kbps. And aside from music, you can use your iPod as a portable external hard drive, to view your contacts list, and to download your calendar for iPod viewing.

Both the updated 10GB iPod and the new 20GB iPod have a new touch-sensitive, static scroll wheel that's less vulnerable to dust, dirt, and breakage, because it has no moving parts. The 10GB and 20GB models' FireWire ports are also protected by a new built-in cover, which feels a little flimsy but does its job.

The 20GB iPod is about three-quarters of an inch thick and weighs 7.2 ounces, about one ounce heavier than its 5GB and 10GB siblings. To help you tote them around, the 10GB and 20GB models come with a carrying case and belt clip. Also included is a tiny wired controller you can clip onto your clothing; it lets you play, pause, fast-forward, or rewind a track, as well as adjust volume, without having to reach for the iPod itself.

All the new iPods come with improved headphones--even at medium MP3 compression, it's difficult to tell the difference between the iPod's audio and that of a standard portable CD player.

The iPod 1.2 software included with these models did occasionally get confused about the level of charge in the battery. Apple says that it is investigating the problem.

Macworld's Buying Advice

The 20GB model costs only $100 more than the 5GB iPod did when it was first announced, so it's a bargain by comparison, especially given the cool extras that come with it.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Fast sync speed
    • Convenient wired remote control
    • Smart, compact design
    • Smooth solid-state scroll wheel
    • Tons of storage


    • Slightly thicker than the 10GB model
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