Apple's New iPod - Evolutionary, not Revolutionaryby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 3, 2003 3:30 AM EST
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Regardless of what your opinions are on their OSes, choice of microprocessor platform, or that darn single button mouse, there is no arguing that Apple has been able to introduce some of the most attractive designs ever seen in the computer market. The new iMacs, the G4 series and Apple's gorgeous Cinema Display LCD panels all have design and usability elements that remain unparalleled by any company in the computer industry. Unfortunately, the biggest limitation for Apple's computers continues to be the lack of x86 support, thus preventing all of this stylish hardware from being used on over two decades of the largest software user base.
Apple has had a few successes among PC users however; their Cinema Display LCDs, although pricey, are the displays of choice for some high-end workstations through the use of an ADC-to-DVI converter (ADC is Apple's digital interface standard). The only other time you will see an Apple logo anywhere near a PC user's desk is with the incredibly successful iPod MP3 player.
We reviewed the original iPod back in January of 2002, shortly after its release. Although it was released as a Mac-only product, through the support of third-party developers like Mediafour the iPod was brought to the PC long before Apple released a "Windows" version of the unit. The iPod wasn't the smallest MP3 player on the market back then, but it featured the absolute best user interface (a undeniable strength of Apple's), and a very strong feature-set. The combination of those two key factors made the iPod a huge success, and crowned it the king of all MP3 players.
In the year and a half that has passed since the iPod was released, the market for MP3 players has continued to increase and the number of devices on the market has grown tremendously. Despite an increase in competition, no manufacturer has been able to dethrone Apple and offer a better solution than the iPod, although many manufacturers have definitely put forth more affordable options. In Apple's usual style, information on an iPod successor was kept under extremely close guard and nothing surfaced even on the rumor-ridden web until just before the launch of the new iPod.
Now a one-size fits all solution, the new iPod can be used on both Mac and Windows platforms right out of the box and it features a number of other evolutionary improvements that compelled us to go out and purchase one to see what all the fuss was about. Apple is very strict on sending out review samples of their hardware, but regardless of whether we get a product or not, if there's a demand for a review we'll do whatever it takes to make sure you get the information you need to make an educated buying decision.
Last month we went onto Apple's store online, took advantage of their student discount and two days later had a new 15GB iPod for $369.99 plus tax. Was it worth it? Let's find out