How iPods Work

iPod Features

The iPod touch foregoes the standard Click Wheel in favor of multi-touch sensing.
The iPod touch foregoes the standard Click Wheel in favor of multi-touch sensing.
Photo courtesy Apple

In addition to the iTunes integration and autosync, the Click Wheel (more on this in the hardware section) and the slim form factor, some of iPod's more notable features include:

  • Audio The 160-GB iPod stores up to 40,000 songs (20,000 for the 80-GB model). The search function lets you type in keywords (song name, artist, album) using the Click Wheel to locate a song on the iPod hard drive. It supports MP3, WAV, AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless and Audible audio files. You can download songs from the iTunes Store, from a different MP3 download site or rip them from your CDs into the iTunes software. You need to go through the iTunes software to download files to the iPod (unless you download a hack that lets you bypass iTunes -- more on hacks in the Software section). You can listen to audio books at various speeds -- normal, faster or slower -- without seriously distorting the sound, and connect your iPod to your home stereo through a mini-to-RCA jack. The device comes with equalizer presets for different music styles.
  • Video­ The 80-GB version holds up to 100 hours of video, and the 160-GB version holds up to 200 hours. It supports H.264 and MPEG-4 files as well as MOV files converted to iPod-friendly video through the iTunes software. You can play video podcasts, music videos, feature films and TV shows on the iPod, plus your own DVDs and home videos that you encode using QuickTime Pro and download to your player through iTunes.
  • Photos The player holds up to 25,000 photos. It supports files converted from JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG and PSD. You can download your photos to the iPod from Mac iPhoto or Windows Adobe Photoshop Elements/Album. Using an RCA or S-video connection (S-video through the dock accessory), you can connect the iPod to your home-theater TV to watch photo slideshows (complete with soundtrack) or video on a larger screen.
  • External hard drive The iPod can function as portable hard drive, carrying all file types between computers. Just choose "enable disk usage" in the iTunes software, and you can load whatever you want onto the player's hard disk.
  • Calendar/contacts syncing iPod automatically downloads all new contact/calendar data added to Mac iCal or Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express since the last time iPod was connected to your computer.
  • Games iPod comes with pre-loaded games. You can also download games from the iTunes store, from third-party companies or even create your own (see the "iPod Software" section).
  • Car integration If you have an iPod and you're in the market for a new car or a new head unit receiver, you can get one that fully integrates your player into the sound system. There are manufacturer-built car stereos that support iPod integration to the level that you can control the device through the head-unit or steering-wheel controls.

For a full list of iPod features, see Apple: iPod. Now let's get inside a 30-GB, fifth-generation iPod video to find out what hardware it uses to accomplish these tasks.