Apple's Music Man

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First came iMovie, which brought easy video editing to the masses. Now here's iTunes, another slick, free Apple program - this one devoted to MP3 playing and CD burning.

With iTunes, you can convert audio from your CDs into MP3 files to store on your hard drive. iTunes will even look up track listings via the Internet.

The program's interface is a single, brushed-aluminum-style window dominated by a playlist, with a tool bar at the top and a Source pane (for Internet broadcasts, portable MP3 players, audio CDs, and playlists) on the left. You can browse your collection by artist or album, or filter your list by entering text in a search field. The iTunes main window can also be collapsed to a tiny, floating player window.

Once you build a playlist, you can click on the Burn button, and iTunes burns an audio CD. However, the current version supports only the CD-RW drives bundled with Apple's new systems. Plug-ins for popular CD-RW drive models should appear on Apple's Web site soon.

The software also supports connections with many popular MP3 players, including Creative Labs' Nomad II, Nomad II MG, and Nomad Jukebox; SonicBlue's Rio 500, Rio 600, and Rio 800; Nike's PSA/Play; Nakamichi's SoundSpace 2; and USB player Iomega HipZip.

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