Is an iPod the Best Digital Music Player to Buy?

The various members of the iPod family are the best known digital music players and they have much to recommend them. They’re solidly built but small and light. They’re very reliable and easy to use. They work with the excellent iTunes software. There are scores of accessories and piles of extra software available for them.

And they’re masterpieces of ergonomic and aesthetic design (with the one exception of the grossly misjudged U2 special edition, released in late 2004). However, as with most Apple products, these qualities are reflected in the price.

There are many similar players which lack the wide reputation and minimalist design but which offer more features – such as an integrated radio, longer battery life, bigger hard drive, the ability to record straight from a stereo rather than via a computer – for less money.

There are a growing number of brands on the market, but the field is still overwhelmingly dominated by Apple and a handful of competitors. Some of the brands have come and gone as they just can not compete with the iPod in terms of popularity.

Can an iPod really hold my whole CD collection?

That depends on the model you buy, the sound quality you desire and – obviously – the size of your collection. The top-of-the range iPod can hold well over 2050 albums at a sound quality that will satisfy most people: that’s enough music to play night and day for more than 2 months without repeating a single track.

So, assuming you own less music than that, you don’t insist on super-high fidelity, and you’re prepared to pay for a suitably capacious model, then yes, an iPod can hold you whole music collection. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that in practice you also need the same amount of space available on the hard drive of your computer, since whatever is on your iPod will typically also live on your PC or Mac.