Buying an iPod for in-car audio | iLounge Article

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Buying an iPod for in-car audio

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Q: I am looking to buy an iPod for mainly music listening and know nothing about them and trying to find out which one to buy. Will most often connect to my car audio, which I believe is capable. Just wanting out of the dinosaur age and say goodbye to my CDs. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

- John

A: If your primary goal is music listening, just about any iPod will do the job quite well, but there are a few factors to consider, such as the size of your music library, how much of it you want to be able to carry around with you, and whether you’re looking for other options such as streaming Internet radio or wireless audio playback.

Perhaps surprisingly, Apple’s iPod classic remains one of the best choices if your primary goal is simply to listen to your music library in your car. At 160GB, the iPod classic provides about two-and-a-half times the capacity of the largest iPod touch or iPhone currently available, and will work with most iPod-specific car systems—that is, those that are designed to read the iPod directly and display menus for selecting and navigating the content on your iPod. Basically, if you have a large music library and want to ensure that you have all of it on the road with you all the time, then this is definitely an option you should consider.

By contrast, the iPod touch maxes out at 64GB of storage, but provides additional options such as Bluetooth connectivity, eliminating the requirement to plug your device into your car simply for playback. Since the iPod touch also supports apps and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, this can also allow you to stream and play back audio from other online sources, such as Internet radio stations. However, if your primary intent is to use the device in your car, you will not likely have an Internet connection while on the go, leaving these features of little benefit in that situation. Further, Bluetooth is only a real benefit if you’re frequently jumping in and out of the car and taking the device with you when you get out, particularly since on longer trips you’ll likely still want to plug the device in for power rather than running it off the battery.

If you’re looking to primarily use the device in your car and want to have as much of your music library available as possible, storage capacity will likely be one of the most important considerations. To put this into perspective, the 160GB iPod classic stores approximately 20,000 songs when encoded at a standard 256kbps bit-rate, while the 64GB iPod touch will handle around 8,000. This assumes an average song length of 4 minutes, and that you don’t want to use a higher or lower bit-rate to adjust to your preferred quality. You can use our iPod Storage Calculator and play with these numbers a bit to see what capacity might work best for you.

If you have a smaller music library, or you only need to carry a portion of your library around with you, then lower-capacity devices such as the iPod nano may also be options worth considering, particularly if you’re on a budget.

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