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iPod, the Missing Manual, by J. D. Biersdorfer. 331 pp.
Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2003. $24.95.

Apple’s iPod is one of the coolest technological devices ever to come down the pike. Barely bigger than a pack of cards, it lets you take up to 30 Gigabytes–that’s the equivalent of 7500 songs– of music, audiobooks, and even data with you wherever you go. It’s the best selling portable music player in the world, but playing music is just the beginning of what the iPod can do. iPod, the Missing Manual lets readers in on the full range of capabilities and possibilities their iPods have to offer.

The first part of the book covers the hardware basics of charging the iPod, using the controls and accessories, and connecting to a computer. The second part, on software, teaches you how to download and manage your music in iTunes (or MusicMatch, if you’re a PC user) and how to buy tunes and albums from the iTunes Music Store. You’ll also learn about sources for free and legal music on the web, and about Audible.com, the premier site for audiobooks.

The third part of the book, ?Beyond the Music,? goes into juicy detail on using your iPod as an address book and calendar, playing games and reading eBooks, using iSync, and using the iPod as a hard drive. You’ll even learn the process for making your iPod into a startup disk for OS X, which is not as simple as it sounds.

Part four, ?Extreme iPodding.? covers more in-depth topics like how to connect the iPod to your home or car stereo, a round-up of web sites on the iPod, shareware and AppleScripts, and all kinds of cool accessories to spend your money on, from cases and speakers to battery boosters. The first-rate chapter on troubleshooting can help you solve a wide range of problems and avoid that call to tech support.

The book is aimed at both Mac and Windows users, and covers all the models available as of August 2003, from the original 5GB iPod to the current 2003 series. (How to tell the difference? Current iPods have the control buttons in a row; the buttons are around the scroll wheel in older models.)

iPod, the Missing Manual is a terrific reference and an entertaining read. There’s plenty here for every iPod owner, from first-timers just pulling the shrink wrap off the exquisitely designed package to old hands eager to push the envelope.

Very highly recommended.

-Elsa Travisano