iPods shipping?

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Although its official release isn't until the end of this week, Apple's new digital device, the iPod, appears to be en route to some folks who preordered it.

MacCentral has received several unconfirmed reports from readers who indicate they've received shipping notifications from the online Apple Store. These readers placed orders for the iPod after the unit was announced on October 23 during a special media event hosted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the grounds of Apple's Cupertino headquarters. The iPod is expected to be officially available starting this Saturday, November 10, from the Apple Store, Apple retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The iPod is a diminutive US$399 FireWire-based MP3 player that features a 5GB hard disk drive in place of the flash media found on most other MP3 devices. The metal and white plastic enclosure complements the company's desktop and laptop Mac styles.

The iPod sports a circular button interface that provides users with easy access to a hierarchical menu system viewable via a small backlit LCD display. Making use of a lithium polymer battery, the unit charges off the FireWire interface and can run for up to 10 hours, according to Apple. The iPod synchronizes play lists and music libraries with Apple's new iTunes 2. Introduced simultaneously with the iPod, iTunes 2 was released late last week as a free download from Apple's Web site, for both Mac OS 9 and X users.

The iPod sports a combination of small size, high speed, and high capacity that can't easily be found among its competitors. And in addition to its ability to interface with the Mac as an MP3 player, the iPod can be mounted on a desktop and serves as a FireWire storage device, thus acting as a small external hard drive if you prefer.

This story, "iPods shipping?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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