The iPod is a portable media player designed and marketed by Apple and launched on October 23, 2001. As of June 2010, the product line-up includes the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the video-capable iPod Nano, and the compact iPod Shuffle. Former iPod models include the iPod Mini and the spin-off iPod Photo (since reintegrated into the main iPod Classic line).
iPod Classic models store media on an internal hard drive, while all other models use flash memory to enable their smaller size (the discontinued Mini used a Microdrive miniature hard drive). As with many other digital music players, iPods can also serve as external data storage devices. Storage capacity varies by model, ranging from 2 GB for the iPod Shuffle to 160 GB for the iPod Classic.
Apple's iTunes software can be used to transfer music to the devices from computers using certain versions of Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems. For users who choose not to use Apple's software or whose computers cannot run iTunes software, several open source alternatives to iTunes are also available. iTunes and its alternatives may also transfer photos, videos, games, contact information, e-mail settings, Web bookmarks, and calendars to iPod models supporting those features.
The iPod branding is also used for the media player applications included with the iPhone and iPad; the iPhone version is essentially a combination of the Music and Videos apps on the iPod Touch. Both devices can therefore function as iPods, but they are generally treated as separate products.
Software: The iPod line can play several audio file formats including MP3, AAC/M4A, Protected AAC, AIFF, WAV, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless. Fifth and sixth generation iPod Classics, as well as third generation iPod Nanos, can additionally play MPEG-4 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) and QuickTime video formats, with restrictions on video dimensions, encoding techniques and data-rates.
Originally, iPod software only worked with Mac OS; iPod software for Microsoft Windows was launched with the second generation model. Unlike most other media players, Apple does not support Microsoft's WMA audio format-but a converter for WMA files without Digital Rights Management (DRM) is provided with the Windows version of iTunes.
Industry impact: iPods have won several awards ranging from engineering excellence, to most innovative audio product, to fourth best computer product of 2006. iPods often receive favorable reviews; scoring on looks, clean design, and ease of use. PC World says that iPod line has "altered the landscape for portable audio players". Several industries are modifying their products to work better with both the iPod line and the AAC audio format. Examples include CD copy-protection schemes, and mobile phones, such as phones from Sony Ericsson and Nokia, which play AAC files rather than WMA.
Besides earning a reputation as a respected entertainment device, the iPod has also been accepted as business devices. Government departments, major institutions and international organisations have turned to the iPod line as a delivery mechanism for business communication and training, such as the Royal and Western Infirmaries in Glasgow, Scotland, where iPods are used to train new staff.
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iPod - Technical Specifications
iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch (iTouch) Video Support: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file.
iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch (iTouch) Audio Support: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF.
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