Back in September, my colleague, Dan Frakes, outlined the differences between an
Apple iPod and the HP-branded iPod based on conversations he had with HP’s marketing department. I now have one of these HP iPods in my hands (well, actually, on my desk, as it’s difficult to type while holding an iPod) and I’m here to reveal the shocking truth!
Well, maybe shocking is overstating it a bit — probably by more than a bit. Actually, for all intents and purposes, they’re exactly the same.
The box contains the same FireWire and USB 2.0 cables, the same power adapter and dock (I have the 40GB model that includes the dock), and the same earbuds and foam covers. The software CD includes only the Windows versions of iTunes and the iPod updater (the Apple iPod ships with software for both the Mac and Windows PC). The documentation includes references, where appropriate, to HP rather than Apple (for example, references to accessories are likely to direct you to the HP Store instead of the Apple Store).
HP does include a Quick Setup poster akin to the pictogram documents one tends to get with new PCs and printers. Given how intuitive the iPod is, I can’t believe a lot of people will need this poster (or its incredibly cheesy “You Rock The PC” flip-side) but now that the iPod has gone so mainstream I may be overestimating the technical know-how of today’s iPod buyers.
The fact is, the only difference in the box’s contents that really makes a difference is the Warranty booklet. Unlike with Apple’s iPod, there’s no reference in the HP documentation to a charge being levied should you bring the iPod in for service after 180 days of ownership. In other words, HP’s 1 year warranty appears to be exactly that — a warranty with no hidden charges for the first full year of ownership.
Plug the HP iPod into a Mac and you can format it as a Mac iPod. Plug it into a Windows PC as HP intended and it works just like a Windows iPod. This might be handy to keep in mind should you find a better price on an hPod than one of Apple’s iPods (though currently the Apple iPod is priced lower on Amazon than is the hPod).
Surely, you say, I must have something to add other than it’s the same-old same-old. Well yes, I do. HP has come up with these music-themed tattoos that allow you to customize your hPod with the image of such artists as The Hives, Vanessa Carlton, or Keane. Shortly after these tattoos were released there were reports that they couldn’t be removed without leaving behind a thick coating of sticky residue.
Nope. My review unit came with Ashlee Simpson’s mug smeared across its front and after carefully peeling it away I had to do no more than swipe the back plate over my shirt a couple of times to remove any evidence that the tattoo ever existed. (On the other hand, given Ms. Simpson’s spectacular fall from grace after a disastrous “performance” on Saturday Night Live, the hPod may have cooperated simply to get rid of her image).
If you don’t care for HP’s pre-printed tattoos you’re welcome to make some of your own with the company’s
Printable Tattoos inkjet labels. A package of 10 labels runs $15 and you can download additional tattoos from
To sum up:
Just another fourth-generation iPod?
Compatible with both the Mac and Windows PC?
Yes. Mac users simply need to download the latest version of the
iPod Updater and
iTunes. (Note, however, that HP will not support hPods that have been formatted for the Mac.)
Any advantage to purchasing one over the other?
Price — if one is less expensive than the other — and warranty. Apple charges a “carrying charge” if it has to service an iPod that you’ve owned for over 180 days but less than a year. HP doesn’t.
Are the tattoos as gummy as some claim?
Not in my experience, no.
What’s the deal with the lame “You Are Your Playlist” slogan on the outside of the box and on the back of the setup poster?
Beats the hell out of me.