DJ iPod

 

Apple Computer's sassy little hard drive with headphones was undoubtedly music's greatest success stories of the year: over a million sold even before the holiday rush started. And with the arrival of competition from the likes of Dell DJ, carrying a portable CD player has quickly become as old-fashioned as, well, carrying around a portable cassette player.

Digital music downloads may have finally arrived in a form that will satisfy both buyer and seller, but it couldn't have happened without the iPod, with its ability to store an unconscionable amount of music in something barely bigger than an Altoids tin. It's a notable development that consumers are now willing to pay for downloading music they used to steal. But also important is that people no longer view a 90-minute cassette mix tape as an avenue for self expression. An entire collection of music is essentially portable. And it's playable in shuffle mode.

IPod's customizable playlists make it easy for anyone to be their own DJ. After all, rifling through stacks of wax or battling jewel cases used to be half the battle in making a mix tape or party soundtrack. The iPod turns everyone into an instant music connoisseur, offering the opportunity for both snobbery and guilty pleasure in the same playlist. It's not your record collection anymore that makes you dope -- it's how you play it on your iPod.

The iPod is now starting to convinced devotees that they don't need CDs at home, either. When you go from instantly having every album you have at your fingertips to wading through stacks of discs, you're soon wondering why you can't just have an iPod built into your stereo. No more rack of CDs taking up space in the corner of the living room. Now you've got a lifetime supply of coasters or, alternatively, an income stream on eBay.

Old schoolers will no doubt lament the death of the album cover as the compact disc dwindles over the next few years. But today's kids will survive without them. Multimedia formats that combine video and audio will become the standard, allow plenty of visuals. In fact, all that's left is to add a slick interface and a color screen to the iPod and you'll be able to kill off your television and DVD collection. Better yet, add streaming multimedia from cellular services, and the iPod will have done what MTV could never do: kill the radio star once and for all.

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