The How iPods work.

HOW iPODS WORK
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How do iPods work?



In 2001 the very first iPod by Apple was released to the public and it quickly climbed to the top of the list of the best-selling mp3 players on the market. Ever since, the Apple iPod has stayed at the top and what was once a small, hand-held mp3 player with an astounding 5 gigabytes of storage space has become the same small device with the amazing storage capacity but with other features including a camera, a video recorder and viewer, a portable browser, and a disc drive, making it a fully complete media center. The device is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems, even though it is an Apple product and this is only one of the features that makes it the continuing best-selling portable device on the planet. Other features that people love about the world’s greatest gadget are: its compact size and light weight; the touch-sensitive wheel that allows for browsing through all the menus and functions using only your thumb; and of course, the iTunes that remains on one’s computer and is the source for all converting, downloading, playing, and organizing all of those important files, not to mention the built-in iTunes store, that puts thousands of files right at the user’s fingertips!

Features of the iPod
It may seem that the features of the iPod are absolutely endless but there are 7 main features that people generally consider when purchasing the gadget. These are: audio, video, photos, the hard drive, the calendar and contacts functions, games and its ability for car integration. Here are some of the impressive specifics.

Audio: Depending on the type of model, iPods can hold from 20,000 to 40,000 songs with the 160-GB model obviously holding more than the 80-GB model but both providing a continual source of lots of different music. And because sorting through this many files could be quite time-consuming, the iPod comes with a convenient search function that allows you to type in the name of any song, artist, or title and your iPod will find it just as quickly as your PC would, if not faster! MP3, WAV, AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless and Audible audio files can be played on the iPod. Many people put off the decision to buy an iPod because they believe that they will only be able to obtain music from the iTunes store but the iPod can also receive files from other downloading sites or your own personal CDs. All files do have to be downloaded through the iTunes software, unless a hack has been downloaded. iPods also can be connected to a home stereo and because the iPod wants to bring the best listening experience every time, it even has an equalizer that will self-adjust to different types of music.

Video: Just like the audio capabilities, the 160-GB model holds twice as much video as the 80-GB model but the 80 is still impressive, holding up to 100 hours of video. The iPod will take H.264, MPEG-4, and MOV files and will convert them through the iTunes software to put them onto any iPod. The iPod will then be able to play video podcasts, music videos, movies, and television shows. Self-made videos and videos that have been taken from a DVD can also be played on an iPod once they have been encoded with Quick Time Pro and downloaded into the software.

Photos: An iPod can hold up to 25,000 photos. Many file formats are accepted by iPods including JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, and PSD file formats. The Mac iPhoto software or the Windows Adobe Photoshop Elements/Album software can be used to download any photos to the device. iPods can also be connected to home theater systems, which allows for movies to be watched on a larger screen or for home videos or slideshows to be watched.

External hard drive: This is such a simple concept but until Apple designed it, it was something that was unheard of : an external hard drive that will carry any type of computer file, built right into a portable entertainment device! This function again simply uses iTunes to convert computer files into something the iPod recognizes and will allow you to take every file from your PC with you, if you choose!

Calendar/Contacts sync: Not only will the iPod take all of the contact and calendar information that has been placed into your Mac iCal or Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express programs and place it into your iPod but it will continue to automatically update this information every time your iPod is plugged into the computer holding the information!

Games: Many people buy the iPod simply for the games that it comes with alone. However, these are not the only choices available as games can also be downloaded through iTunes, from other resources, or created by the user!

Car integration: One of the newest innovations to be introduced to the iPod is the work of the car manufacturer’s that are realizing the huge success that the iPod is! This feature allows for cars to be fully integrated with the iPod system so that iPods can be fully integrated into the car’s stereo system and can be controlled through either head controls or steering wheel controls!

iPod Hardware
Although consumers are often very impressed with the slim design and the compactness of the iPod, what lies under the thin case is quite extensive, even if it does come in a tiny package. There are seven main parts of an iPod and these include: a 30 GB Toshiba 1.8 GB hard drive; a rechargeable lithium-ion battery; the Click Wheel, which is the navigational system; the LCD display which is only 2.5 inches; the microprocessor; the audio chip; and the video chip. Considering that the hard drive weighs just over an ounce, it’s incredible how much information it contains but it does this simply by using smaller and lighter mechanisms than you would find in a PC and also uses technology that is much more sensitive to place it onto the small 30 GB platter. The iPod external hard drive actually holds an amazing 93.5 gigabits per square inch.

The display of the iPod may also be 2.5 inches but the actual screen is also very thin, at just .125 inches deep. For something so small it has an amazing 320x240-pixel resolution. The iPod uses many different connectors and not only are they much smaller than other connectors, they are also designed very differently. The connectors within an iPod are coated so that they will still be usable, while remaining as small as they need to be. The motherboard, like any computer, is the most important piece as without this component, none of the chips or memory functions would be able to work. The Click Wheel within the iPod is what has many people fascinated as it uses both analog and digital data. The analog data is the data that the user’s finger sends by controlling the wheel a certain way. The iPod needs to take this data and convert it into digital data, which the iPod can then use to perform its various functions.

The exterior of the Click Wheel has five different buttons: Menu, back, forward, play/pause, and the select button located right in the center of the wheel. The wheel can be used by either sliding one’s thumb across it or by pressing any of the buttons. When the buttons are pressed or the thumb is slid across the face of the Click Wheel, it gets pushed down into the motherboard. Then simply, the two circuits that were once separated before the thumb pushed them together, communicate with the other different circuits within the iPod to make it perform the function that it is being asked to do. The concept behind the Click Wheel is the same as the touchpad that laptops use and allow one to scroll through lists, move through a song, and adjust the volume. However, for the 5G model, Apple wanted to use its own design, unique only to Apple, for the Click Wheel.

The wheel now basically works with the wheel being constructed as a metal grid that conducts electricity and certain points set up along the grid. This works because the finger also conducts electricity and when something such as a thumb is moved across the wheel, the electricity flowing through the grid wants to follow the finger to close the circuit of electricity. However, there is that small piece of plastic between the thumb and the circuit that won’t allow the circuit to completely close. Because of this, a charge is formed to the closest spot to the finger. The charge between the two conductors is called capacitance. This capacitance is the important current that the iPod uses because depending on the amount of capacitance, the iPod will do different functions. The capacitance also determines how quickly the iPod works. For instance, if a person is operating the volume controls with their thumb, it will quickly become louder or quieter, depending on the direction the thumb is moving in and how quickly it is moving. However, when the thumb stops, so will the capacitance and the iPod will stop the volume at the level where the thumb stopped.

iPod Software
Because Apple wants to keep a tight lid on the software that helps make it the world’s best-selling portable entertainment system, little is actually known about the iPod software but it’s fairly widely known that the iPod uses the Pixo OS 2.1 operating system in combination with PortalPlayer’s Digital Media Platform. The Portal Platform is what provides the iPod with some of the necessary hardware components, such as the core processor.

One particular component of an iPod’s software that people often find the most interesting is the number of iPod hack programs that exist. This type of software is designed by hackers and computer programmers who have created code that will allow an iPod to do things that they normally can’t do, such as remove volume limits, transfer and convert photos without using iTunes, or changing the main media player and converter to something completely different from iTunes. Some programmers charge a fee for the use of their software but others offer it free of charge.

iPod Faults
Although it may seem as though an iPod will provide you with everything you could ever want in a portable entertainment system, it’s not without its own challenges and difficulties. One of these challenges is that fact that changing the battery is not only difficult, but costly too. iPod batteries are built right into the machine, meaning that when one dies, it will take a professional and someone extremely comfortable with the insides of the machine to change it. This not only means that the customer has to then send their iPod to the manufacturer, wait for the time it will take to change the battery and at one time, it also meant that they would in turn, charge the customer a $100 fee. Today, Apple only charges around $59 but you’ll still have to go without your iPod for a bit and pay the fee on top of shipping.


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