- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

Apple Computer Inc.’s latest IPod, $299 with 30 gigabytes of storage, has a 2.5-inch LCD display screen sharp enough to bring a tear to the eye of our breakfast server in Ocean City Sunday morning.

Her name is Sandra, and she’s from Klaipeda, a Lithuanian port city, and I just happen to have some photos of Vilnius, that nation’s capital, and Kaunas, another major city, loaded on the device.

Then again, watching an episode of “Desperate Housewives” on the small screen (with good sound through its headphones) wasn’t so bad, either.

For me, though, the truly revolutionary part of this new device was its integration with a just-installed Alpine car stereo, but more on that in a moment.

First, the basics: the new IPod, solid-state, skinnier than its predecessor and capable of showing videos created using the H.264 video codec (or coder-decoder), is a nice treat. It slips into a pocket, performs stunningly and can hold about 625 CDs. That’s more than enough for me, I think, not nearly enough for some. Add $100 to the price and you can get a similar IPod with 60 GBs of space, enough for 1,250 CDs, or 15,000 songs, Apple says.

The downloaded episode of the ABC series was delightful, not the least for its lack of commercials. Would I spend $1.99 per week to get each episode via Apple’s ITunes service? Perhaps not, but if I were a rabid fan of “Lost,” another ABC series available for the IPod, I might.

Video podcasts already are sprouting up, and it’s possible these devices will do for television programming what the IPod first did for music: recreate the paradigm for distribution and buying. It is, after all, much easier to download an album than to schlep over to Sam Goody to buy one.

The new IPod, in my book, is a solid hit.

One example of its utility is the Alpine CDA-9851, an in-dash car stereo that I’ve seen priced online from $209 to $279. Add Alpine’s IPod adapter, for $100, and you are ready to hear the IPod directly through the stereo — no more FM transmitters — as well as control it by selecting songs from the stereo, not the IPod.

You’ll face a slight learning curve in determining how to scan available songs or IPod playlists, and then selecting them (hint: press the volume knob to pick an item). After that, the sound is quite something. Purists may say that other brands of car stereos offer better midrange notes or some such, but a recording of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” by the energetic Dutch violinist Janine Jensen was as sharp and brilliant as anything I’d heard.

The overall quality of the Alpine is, for me, very satisfactory.

Switching between AM, FM, satellite radio and IPod was not difficult.

The stereo pauses the IPod when you switch to another audio source.

At the same time, the IPod’s battery is charged via the stereo connection. It’s a win-win for all around.

It’s tough to make predictions, as Yogi Berra once said, especially if they’re about the future. Let me make one about the present day: The IPod is changing, perhaps irrevocably, the personal entertainment landscape. Your music can slip into a pocket, play in your car, dock in a stereo and update via a computer, all seamlessly. You say you want a revolution? I think it has arrived.

E-mail [email protected] or visit https://www.kellner.us.

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