It's hard to believe that almost a decade has passed since Apple introduced the iPod, thus revolutionizing the way we listen to music. Since its original incarnation as a boxy, white gadget with a bulky click wheel, the device has evolved into the Nano, Shuffle, Touch, and the redesigned Classic. Although the iPod remains a cultural and technological phenomenon, do users fully understand everything the portable music player can accomplish? O'Reilly Publishing's iPod: The Missing Manual clearly demonstrates the iPod's full capabilities, revealing information even the most seasoned users may not know. Author J. D. Biersdorfer guides the new and experienced owners through full-color illustrations, step-by-step instructions, and often amusing but easily understood language. Indeed, the volume lives up to its motto as "the book that should have been in the box."
Addressing each iPod model, Biersdorfer explains the basics: how to charge the device, install and set up iTunes, and how to load one's own CDs onto iTunes and the iPod. The iTunes store's vastness may seem overwhelming to new users, so Biersdorfer thoroughly describes how to set up an account, browse through the virtual music, movie, and podcast aisles, and finally how to purchase the files. Confused over the various types of file formats (MP3, WAV, M4V) and whether they are compatible with the music player? Untangling the mysteries, she specifies which formats will work with the iPod, and how to convert other file types. The author carefully avoids overly technical language; for example, she refers to clicking on the "flippy triangle" to view the iPod's contents through iTunes.
While much of iPod: The Missing Manual may target inexperienced users, seasoned iPod owners will also find much to like. Biersdorfer illustrates the differences between a "smart playlist," a "Genius playlist," and the iTunes DJ. Wondering just what the "Ping" service is? The book explains how the social networking service can connect the user with friends and fellow fans, enabling music sharing. Few may know that the iPod can be used as a PDA, storing contacts and calendars. In addition, while the device may be primarily known as a music player, it also functions as an alarm, a photo album that can display slideshows, an e-book reader, and a hard drive that can store regular data files. The Missing Manual provides such valuable information in one place, saving readers multiple trips to the Apple website for time-consuming searches.