Apple Ipod

I got an unexpected $500 bonus at work. So, I've decided to treat myself to an Apple Ipod. I've been into stereo for a long time but MP3's and Ipods are new to me.

Here in the UK the iPod costs pounds for dollars lucky enough for me my girlfriend got one in Hong Kong whilst overseas for 75% of the cost in the UK.

In short you still get good value for the dollar in the US.

However more important than that the iPod is a piece of design genius.
It sounds great om AAC compression and if you have a decent collection of music to listen to frankly it is essential.

It is not about MP3 as a format it is about access to your music collection in a way you couldn't have before.

It looks great,is easy to use and it actually sounds very good.

Buy one,size depending on your collection and accessories depending on your needs.
Go for it, I'd consider the 20 or 30GB over the 40GB version and use the extra $ to buy a pair of premium headphones like etymotics.
before you buy the i pod, encode some cds to mp3, convert back to wav, and burn on a disc. play them in your system and see if you like what you hear. if you don't like the way mp3 sounds you might not want to do the i pod thing.
I might be a bit biased, being an Apple dealer, but as a music lover, the iPod really makes it possible like never before to make a large collection of music practical in almost any environment. As an example, my typical morning starts out in the car on the way to work listening to music on the iPod, played through an iTrip, a device that sends a radio signal that's picked up by the car stereo. Sounds much better than you would think. At work, I drop it into its cradle and play it through my office system. On weekends, I drop it into another cradle at our ski condo, and, voila, 400 to 500 CD's are at my disposal. Apres ski never had it so good! A good wine, a fire going, and Miles on the system; you get the picture!
I have the ipod 40gb , got it at xmas. I also have a very good audiophile audio system. I highly recommend this tool. I have 2 cradles , 1 @ the computer and the other @ the stereo, which I take with me on the road.
I have 7800 songs from my collection, anytime anywhere I can listen to. It just doesn't get any better than that, for now. Parties no more changing cd's. Create your own files/ Dinner musik /Party musik/ On the road,skiing folder.

I have the
Etymotic 4P headphones
The Pivot mini to Rca interconnect
Creative -Travel Sound speakers ( WoW )unreal 3"x6" unit
I take this amazing little kit with me on holidays and this little speaker system is A MUST BUY, not cheap, but worth it.
Anyone know of any better sytem please let me know.

Nothing beats playing your music threw your chosen front end, on your home audio system. For comfort of random playing and travel, this is a 10/10 system for me.

It is not mandatory that you load the ipod with MP3's. The 40 gig ipod will
hold about 100 CD's, UNCOMPRESSED. It will hold about 400 CD's using AAC at 320 kbps, which is pretty good sound for casual listening. I circulate music through my ipod UNCOMPRESSED using AIFF and it sounds really good.
I also have my car system set up so I can connect my ipod to a jack using the
Headphone OUT and play it directly through my car stereo -- and it sounds really good. 100 CD's, UNCOMPRESSED, is way more than any CD changer you will find. I keep my entire 1000+ CD collection on a hard drive and rotate them through my ipod as the mood strikes. I don't need the entire collection on the ipod at all times. 100 uncompressed CD's in the palm of my hand or in my car stereo is really handy. But, if you don't mind slight compression and you feel the need to have more music on your ipod, you can use AAC at 320 kbps and fit 4 times as much music. Further, I connected my ipod to my home system using the headphone out with an interconnect that splits into L & R and it produced better sound than the same CD through my Denon DVD1200 CD/DVD player. Finally, in other news, Alpine is coming out with with car stereos that will connect directly to your ipod, take over it's functions, and keep it charged. Do I recommend the ipod? Hell yes! I am not an Apple Dealer -- just a music lover who has been looking for a solution like this for years.
How good is the Ipod in terms of it being used as the main digital source in your system? Any good minijack to RCA connectors? Also, can I upload my CDs onto the Ipod?

Recently I started dling some music and movies onto a 8.5mm 60 gig external USB notebook drive, and the sound and picture is tremendously clearer and smoother when playing them from the USB drive than from my laptop's internal drive. I sort of want to explore this external drive avenue in terms of music playback in my system.
Hey I was wondering does it ever skip? I like to listen to music when I jog and was wondering if I would have to worry about i skipping? I have a RIO 800 that crapped out on me and have been squimish about buying another player. (Sonic Blue Sucks!!) The RIO never skipped though because it has no moving parts and the Ipod has the hard drive. So does anyone feel the Ipod is a bad choice for jogging??
I'm a computer guy and just want to point ou that the IPOD is 'the best' mp3 player; not that it sounds the best as I don't feel one sounds better than the other, but the IPOD is easiest to use, has a good layout in it's controls and it's the most expensive. I owned the Nomand Jukebox Zen from Creative and felt it sounded every bit as good. If you want the best, buy the IPOD. If you want to save some of that bonus, buy something else.
Peaks-drunk as a skunk last night I shook the little guy to see if it would disturb it.
No signs at all of skipping I would imagine it's perfect for jogging.
Ben, thats good to know..THANKS!
My Ipod has never skipped in the year or so that I've owned it. Some of my buddies however have reported skipping on longer tracks (the Ipod may have trouble keeping its buffer full on these longer tracks).

The Ipod sounds good for what it is, but >>to my ears<< the reduced resolution from my original CDs is easily noticeable.

Ipod has 25 minute buffering. So, you have to continuously shake the ipod for 25 mins to get it to skip... theoretically anyways. I got the second generation portable md player 10 years ago which has 3 minute buffering and that has never skipped.
This issue with a HD based player isn't skipping, but longevity. If you had a computer for any longer than 3 or 4 years you probably know about dying hard drives--and that was in a stationary desk top or limited movement laptop. HDs are incredibly delicate. If your primary use is going to be jogging, I would not advise a HD player.
I like the iPod as well as anyone, but I have also been considering the iRiver iHP-120 (20 GB) and iHP-140 (40 GB) music players. It handles MP3, WMA, ASF, OGG and WAV audio file formats, but it doesn't handle AAC or AIFF audio file formats. In other words, it won't work with iTunes in handling Apple audio file formats. What it does handle is the Ogg-Vorbis compressed files which sound as good as MP3 and use up less hard disk space. It also doesn't need any special desktop software to download and upload files. It just mounts on the PC as an external hard drive. You can use Windows Explorer to download and upload files via USB 2.0. It also offers recording capabilities through digital I/O, a line-in jack with an external plug-in power microphone feature. On top of all that, it includes an FM tuner.

It doesn't look as nice as the iPod, nor does it have all the little applications like a calendar, address book or games that the iPod has. Since my needs are exclusively music media based, I want a device that can double as a digital hard disk recorder with a microphone input.
Thanks for all the good advice. I opted to go with the 20 GB version. And I sprang for the Shure E-2 earbuds. Just couldn't bring myself to spend more for the earphones than the Ipod. I've had it for a little over a week now and have loaded it up with a little over a gig of music. First real test is coming up. My family and I will be taking a short road trip on St Paddy's day. To take the boys to tour NASA in Huntsville, AL.
I am also a recent iPod convert but there is one nasty little of software jiggery pockery that you should be aware of. I bought the 40gb version so that I could get about 1,000 tracks UNCOMPRESSED into the little beauty, but be aware you CANNOT get them back off digitally. The itunes software cloaks all the sound files on the ipod so your computer can't "see" them. This means for example you cannot burn CD's directly from the ipod. I don't think the iRiver has this restriction so if I had to do it over I would probably go that route, although the iTunes software is excellent, totally intuitive and extremely functional. Apparently there is also some "resampling" going on when you load up using .wav files which might explain any "differences" in sound quality when compared to the original CD. I am glad I bought the unit though since I was almost ready to chuck my several thousand CD's since my "serious" listening is all vinyl. Getting on a plane and having a thousand of my favorites pumping through an Airhead and a pair of Shure E5's makes CD's tolerable. I hooked my ipod up to my ARC Ref1 using a pair of single ended to balanced convertors and a custom made mogami cable.
The sound is very good, helped along I think by the fact that the device is battery powered. I am so pleased with the convenience of the system I am thinking about loading my entire CD collection uncompressed on a LaCie terabyte external drive, hooking it up to an ibook and running the digi output through my ARC DAC3. itunes does really nice crossfades and the playlists you can create are endless.
please let us know your take on the e-2 (considering a pair).

and in case you haven't tried it, AAC > OGG > MP3 any day of the week, aac 320 over either my senn's or grado sr125s is quite impressive musically imo... and i can fit well ove 100 CDs on a 40GB @ that bitrate, more than enough for a good jog or bike-ride or airplane trip (something like 8 days of music lol). it's nice to be able to take GOOD sounding music when you travel. enjoy!!
I bought a pair of E2's before I splurged on the E5's....for around a hundred bucks the E2's are terrific!
They come with a wide variety of earplugs...hard, soft, foamy in different sizes so you will be able to find some that can fit your comfortably over the long haul. The sound isolation is great as well. Well worth it, although I notice that apple has come up with a pair of "higher end" earplugs that look like the E3.
from what i've heard, the apple ones aren't 'bad' for approx $50 but are nothing to write home about and dont come close to Ety's or shure etc.

dan - my only concern re: the e5 is the inline gain control, it's bad enough coming out of a headphone-level output from the iPod but to have yet another gain control, well, how do you set it? do you center the iPod out and just use the one on the phones? center the one on the phones, and set gain on the iPod?

i want really good sound for travel (airplane) and for skiing (although i do worry a bit w/ in-ear that i'll block out too much), i love my iPod, and wouldn't mind bringing a dock for the line-out, and possibly picking up an X-can or grado's headphone amp (for listening @ my destination i use a pair of grado sr125s - the in-ears would only be for the above uses and maybe workign out / running / biking).
I have a cable that gives me a line-out feed from the connector on the bottom of the ipod which is hooked up to the Airhead...there is lots of gain so I usually turn the amp about half way and then adjust the gain on the E5's to suit. I also bought a little wireless remote that sits on top of the ipod when it is connected to my main system. It allows me to skip through the tracks and pause.
I recently bought a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's to wear during airplane travel. They work great. They block out the airplane noise and sound pretty
darn good. You can get them for $80 - $100. I was hesitant about earplugs.
I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 580's for home use, but they let in too much
noise and were no good for air travel. I didn't want to break the bank on a pair of earphones or headphones just for air travel. I recommend the HD 280 Pro's for air travel. They are a great bang for the buck. I recently sat next to a guy who had a set of those $300 Bose "noise cancelling" headphones. We
switched headphones back and forth. My Sennheisers blocked out just as much noise as his "noise cancelling" Bose and sounded a lot better. He looked a little green when he heard mine -- and when I told him how much I paid for mine, he looked absolutely sick. Not to gloat, just to let you know how well the Sennheiser's block out noise and what a great value. Okay, maybe I am gloating over the Bose guy a little, but that's not the point.