Beginner’s Guide to iPod, Part V: Photos, eBooks, Creating Content & Troubleshooting | iLounge Article


Beginner’s Guide to iPod, Part V: Photos, eBooks, Creating Content & Troubleshooting

In the first four parts of this Guide, we've looked at everything from iPod buying and usage to the best accessories for typical and power users. This final installment covers a handful of topics that could neatly be summarized as "expanding your use of the iPod," a subtitle we avoided solely because it was so general.

Most people think of the iPod as a sophisticated digital music player that fits in a pocket or on a belt, but accessory makers have been working overtime to make Apple's invention do even more: it can now store digital photos, record audio, serve as an exercise companion, and display books, news, and other text content on its screen. Below, we've highlighted the best accessories and software to help you take advantage of the iPod's bonus capabilities.

We also wanted to introduce you to some other options to expand your enjoyment of the iPod, ranging from third-party software that will help you better organize your music, to Apple software that will let you create your own iPod-compatible music. And finally, we look at a collection of free online troubleshooting resources you can consult in the unlikely event of any problems with your iPod, its accessories, or its software.

Part I: So You Want to Buy an iPod?
Part II: Five Steps to Using Your iPod
Part III: Necessary Accessories for Typical Users
Part IV: Awesome Accessories for Power Users
Part V: From Photos to eBooks, Creating Content and Troubleshooting

Part V: From Photos to eBooks, Creating Content and Troubleshooting (June 11, 2004)

Digital Photo Storage Accessories

Since most people have at least a little storage capacity left after storing music on their iPods, Apple initially made it easy to use the device as a portable hard drive for computers. Last year, Apple took the idea further, teaming up with Belkin to develop a travel-friendly media card reader that transfers digital photographs onto an iPod (not an iPod mini) without computer intervention. Compatible with CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, MMC and SD Card, Belkin's Media Reader ($109.99, available for $81 and up) is a good solution for casual photographers, but harder-core professionals have complained that it's too slow for their massive data storage needs. Make sure you can recharge your iPod's battery after using it, too. On balance, we prefer the slower and more compatible Media Reader to Belkin's newer and faster Digital Camera Link ($89.99, available for $60 and up), which has a wider variety of compatibility and battery drain issues.


Belkin Media Reader

The Good: Relatively inexpensive photograph transfer device with good build quality and stable functionality.
The Bad: Other media (music, movies, text) not officially supported for transfer off of memory cards, and iPod's battery life limits device's usefulness for heavy music listeners.


Digital Camera Link

The Good: Small device, good price, relatively fast transfers of digital media cards onto the iPod from certain digital cameras.
The Bad: Only compatible with certain digital cameras, drains power of camera, iPod and itself in process.

Voice Recording

As of today, iLounge has reviewed three separate voice recording devices for the iPod, two from Belkin and one from Griffin. Our favorite is Griffin's iTalk ($39.99), which gives your iPod a microphone and speaker system capable of recording and playing back lectures, conversations, or dictation sessions. While none of these recorders is capable of CD-quality music recording - a limitation imposed by the iPod hardware - they do provide useful voice sampling technology and a likely glimpse at what future iPods will be capable of doing. Notably, like the digital photo storage accessories above, voice recorder devices are only compatible with the full-sized iPod, and not the iPod mini.


Griffin iTalk

The Good: Excellent microphone-based recording without a need for user adjustments, includes internal and external input/output options in one inexpensive device.
The Bad: Speaker output is only acceptable, 8 KHz monaural sampling limitations of iPod limit utility of peripheral for many users.

Workout Gear

We've seen many accessories intended to turn the iPod and iPod mini into workout companions, and frankly, we haven't liked most of them - especially ones intended for the larger-sized iPod. But there are a few that proved better than the rest, starting with Teski's Roadie ($19.95). The three-piece device we reviewed included an armband and a two-piece case with a hard plastic back and rubberized front, and was good enough to recommend as-was. Teski subsequently added a clear plastic screen protector to the case, only adding to their product's value and protectiveness (and outdating one of our summarized product minuses below). It's hard to get excited about any full-sized iPod armband, especially since the release of the iPod mini, but Teski's is the best we've seen overall.


Teski's Roadie

The Good: Looks pretty good, serves intended purpose better than most competitors.
The Bad: Face of iPod is exposed to the elements and possible drop damage. Inexpensive and rides on the fine edge of feeling like it.

As a small but high-capacity workout companion, the iPod mini is hard to beat. Two companies have developed significantly different but equally excellent workout accessories for the mini - Marware's SportSuit Convertible ($34.95) includes a removable armband, a full neoprene iPod mini case, and a proprietary detachable front flap. DLO's Jam Jacket Pro mini ($24.99) also includes a removable armband, but the iPod mini case is instead made from silicone rubber and has limited front protection. While DLO's case looks cooler on or off your arm, Marware's case is more protective; we'll leave it to you to determine which best fits your personal needs.


Marware SportSuit Convertible mini

The Good: Good protection on all sides, matching detachable lid works well, choice of colors, the safest choice for workout purposes.
The Bad: Still bulks up the iPod mini, isn't as stylish as the Jam Jacket Pro mini.


DLO Jam Jacket Pro mini

The Good: Snug-fitting, easy to remove cases with screen protection and an affordable armband option.
The Bad: No Click Wheel or top protection, and certain users may prefer other small missing features.

Cool iPod Software

Though Apple has developed and documented many of the iPod's features, third-party software developers have added all sorts of other cool tricks to the iPod's repertoire. Jeff Harris' program iPodlibrary imports eBooks onto an iPod so that they can be read on the go, and iPodSoft's iStory Creator lets you play and create interactive text adventures similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure book series.

If you prefer lighter reading, iPodSoft's iPod Agent and GoogleGet programs download news feeds from the Internet for easy viewing on the iPod: GoogleGet pulls news stories from Google News, while iPod Agent gets data from other (RSS) news feeds, including iLounge's latest news, as well as horoscopes, weather, and movie showtimes for three different countries (U.S., Canada and U.K.). PodQuest (for Mac OS X) even lets you download driving directions from MapQuest to the iPod, a handy little trick.

Several programs, including EntourageNotes, iPod Agent, iPodsync, K-pod and Outpod, enable you to download your e-mail Inbox to the iPod for easy reference - a nice feature if you want to catch up on long messages you've had to skip, but of course, there's no way to type responses while on the go.

Finally, there are a number of programs that can help you manage your music collection. Though you can search iLounge's extensive Downloads libraries for whatever suits your needs, a number of featured programs (including PodUtil) enable you to perform the elusive feat of copying music from your iPod to your computer - something that Apple's official software doesn't support. We also recommend two utilities (ID3X ver. 2.61 and ID3Tag-It 3.1.4, available via Google search) that can make permanent changes to the song, artist, album, genre and other (ID3) supporting details of your music tracks.

Creating Your Own Content

It's one thing to listen to and look at other people's content on your iPod, and entirely another to create your own. Mac users are at a distinct advantage because of the release of GarageBand, a music-making application now included with every new Apple computer (and alternately available in a package with other iLife applications for $49). GarageBand lets you easily create studio-quality audio tracks with layer upon layer of instrumentation and vocals. When you're done mixing your songs, you can send them to your iPod and to friends... or even try to score a recording contract.

If you're more interested in photographs, artwork, or text content relating to the iPod, consider joining the iLounge Discussion Forums and submitting art or photos to our huge international galleries. The world of iPod lovers will appreciate your contributions and make special efforts to answer your questions whenever you have them.


Most people find that the iPod is incredibly easy to use - an impressive feat of user interface engineering given its power and huge storage capacity. But sometimes people have problems - it may appear (incorrectly) that you've lost music on your iPod, or there might be an unfamiliar icon on the iPod's screen. So iLounge wants to make it easy for you to find help.

You'll notice that our top menu bar includes a "Help" button, which gives you easy one-click access to all of the resources at our disposal. Two huge libraries of online iPod resources - one from Apple, the other from us - mean that you won't have to wait for personal questions to be answered if you have trouble using your iPod. We provide an easy index to Apple's official libraries on the Links page, and you can see our own help libraries on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page and on the Tips & Tricks page. Common questions and answers regarding the iPod's battery can be found in the Forums.

But if you do need personal advice that Apple and our pages don't appear to provide, you can always use our Discussion Forums. iLounge's fantastic users and knowledgeable moderators will be there to offer thoughts and guidance. Before you ask for help, try a few searches; it's highly likely that someone else has experienced (and solved) the exact same issue you're having, perhaps with the exact words you'll use in your search. If your first search doesn't yield results, try different words, and there's a good chance something good will come of it.

We hope this Guide proved useful for you, and look forward to your comments and suggestions for future installments. Thanks for reading!

Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the "best book about law school - ever," and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.

Part I: So You Want to Buy an iPod?
Part II: Five Steps to Using Your iPod
Part III: Necessary Accessories for Typical Users
Part IV: Awesome Accessories for Power Users
Part V: From Photos to eBooks, Creating Content and Troubleshooting

« Instant Expert: A Brief History of iPod

Beginner’s Guide to iPod, Part IV: Awesome Accessories for Power Users »

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Very enjoyable and well written ;)

Posted by Snowy in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 12:05 AM (CDT)


Amazed that you read all of that in 5 minutes. ;-)

But seriously, thanks.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 12:18 AM (CDT)


well i didnt read all of it b4 i posted ... but the articles have been great n helpful - i hav a few accsories 4 my iPod but i handed on the links to a few mates who are considering buying one - hopefully make them converts!

Posted by Snowy in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 12:30 AM (CDT)


Does the iPod Agent take up too much space on ur iPod’s hard drive (how much)? Thanks

Posted by me in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 6:44 AM (CDT)


Very nicely written series.  I’m looking to get an ipod as a father’s day gift (my first father’s day to boot).  Thanks for the info.

Posted by Ken in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 7:09 AM (CDT)


iPod Agent is stored on your PC and NOT on your iPod. I use it to transfer my calendar and contacts from Windows Outlook to my iPod.

Posted by Polkster13 in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 1:47 PM (CDT)


Actually, the 8Khz mono limit is imposed by the iPod’s software, not hardware. The hardware itself is capable of recording AND real-time mp3 compression of recorded audio (based on the specs of the PortalPlayer chipset that the iPod uses).

Posted by Sraphim in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 3:36 PM (CDT)


“Mac users are at a distinct advantage because of the release of GarageBand, a music-making application now included with every new Apple computer”

Windows people have had programs like GarageBand for like ten years now! Many of the programs are available for Mac as well. THey used to cost 000s but now many “Lite” versions (toughly equivalent to GarageBand) cost 00s or 0s.


Sony Acid

Acid Express

Software Synths



Arturia Storm works on both Win and Mac.

Posted by synthetic music in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 3:56 PM (CDT)


Sraphim: We were going to use the words “firmware” or “operating system,” but thought “software” would confuse people (iPod newbies) more familiar with the term as it applies to applications that run on computers. On the iPod, the OS is actually a combination of firmware and software resident on the hard drive, further complicating matters.

But yes, PortalPlayer’s chips are capable of MP3 compression; the real question is whether Apple chose to disable the feature to appease record labels, or whether it’s otherwise technically difficult because doing so consumes more power or otherwise is impractical given the rest of the iPod’s hardware. Any idea?

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 5:31 PM (CDT)


I am new to the Mac world, bare with me.  I formatted my ipod(I believe the firmware is Mac), 20G, 2nd Gen with a PC and now I don’t know how to reformat it or where to get the software to reinstall.  I tried to reformat on a Mac, but it wouldn’t take.  I formatted using FAT32 w/PC.  Thanks for your help.

Posted by Tony in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 11, 2004 at 5:41 PM (CDT)


Tony: Try this:

Good luck!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 12, 2004 at 12:28 AM (CDT)


I can’t believe this review, nor many of the news things I read about third party iPod add-ons mention the application for Mac, Pod2Go??? It does a lot of the stuff this guy mentioned, all in one. Maybe it’s a Windoze thing. But anyway, if you own a Mac (and I think support for Windoze is coming soon) go with Pod2Go. You can sync text files (all in one instead of doing it manually, and it updates if you change the file on your comp), horoscopes, driving directions, weather, RSS/news feeds, lyrics, and movie times. All in one, and it’s FREE! The only thing it doesn’t do is the email stuff, as described above.

Just don’t forget, make sure you check the preference to make ejecting your iPod MANUALLY, so Pod2Go can update. The first few times I used it, it got hung up and froze because the iPod was auto-ejected, and Pod2Go didn’t know what to do. (that’s why that one file says, READ ME!)

At any rate, it’s an awesome program.

Posted by Gary in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 12, 2004 at 4:21 PM (CDT)


Here is what Pod2Go does…(I forgot to mention stock quotes above)...I just think this program is awesome and I don’t understand why it gets overlooked. It is the one and only one I use….

Pod2Go has over 450 hand-picked RSS news sources built-in for your enjoyment. You’ll never be without a good read with Pod2Go. You can now preview your feeds directly in Pod2Go, and edit how many items you want to download from each feed. If you have feeds in NetNewsWire, you can simply just drag them into Pod2Go’s news list and they will be imported.

Need to know what the weather will be like? Pod2Go can sync weather forecasts and current conditions for many cities around the world.

Pod2Go can show you movie listings for most theaters in the US and Canada.

With Pod2Go, you can see stock quotes from multiple stock exchanges and can get detailed information for each stock quote.

Read your daily horoscope each and every day!

Pod2Go 0.7 now includes a Lyrics feature that allows you to search for lyrics from two websites for viewing on your iPod. You can also create a custom lyric if you have the lyrics on your hard drive already.

Pod2Go allows you to transfer text documents to your iPod. Formats supported: plain text (txt), Rich Text Format (RTF), HTML (both local and from web pages), Microsoft Word (Panther only). You can also create a new text file to sync to your iPod later directly within Pod2Go.

Get directions to any place within the US and Canada and Europe. Pod2Go will remember the addresses you previously entered so you can easily reuse them again.

Pod2Go can sync your iCal calendars, Address Book contacts, Stickies and even Safari bookmarks! Pod2Go can also remove any iSync data on your iPod so you do not have duplicates.

iPod menu
Included with Pod2Go is an iPod menu which allows you to easily sync Pod2Go without Pod2Go being open. It also includes a Show in Finder and Eject menu, along with the ability to launch applications when an iPod is connected to your computer.

Pod2Go 0.7 has two new feautres built-in to it’s iPod menu: Notes Editor and Export Music Listing. Notes Editor allows you to manage your iPod’s notes quickly and easily. Export Music Listing will export your iPod’s music into a web page and even upload it to your website via FTP.

Posted by Gary in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 12, 2004 at 4:26 PM (CDT)


Am going to get an ipod. Would you wait[is it worth the wait] for the next model that should be out in September-or just get it now. Doug.

Posted by douglas hayden in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 12, 2004 at 8:17 PM (CDT)


Jeremy, what do you think is the most important iPod accessory a power user should have?  I already have the iTrip, iTalk, silicone case, battery back-up, stereo cable.  I have a 20GB 3G. Think the Navipod is worth the cash? Also thanks for making a guide like this.  Wish I’d had this available when I bought mine.  Learned everything off of forums. MESSAGE TO ALL NEWBIES - GET FIREWIRE

Posted by AJ in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 12, 2004 at 10:23 PM (CDT)


The next accersory for you, i think, would be the “remote remote”. If you dont already know, its a wireless ipod remote like a navipod, but unlike the navipod, it uses RF which means it go thru objects (books desks walls etc). The navipod is way too expensive and uses infra red, so you actually have to point at at the reciever. I’ve got the remote remote, and it works great.

Posted by booksacool1 in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 14, 2004 at 5:19 AM (CDT)


AJ - Thanks for your comments; with no offense to the makers of iPod remote controls, I would not personally recommend the remotes currently on the market. I purchased a NaviPod a while back and never use it; I concur most strongly with the end of Dennis’s review of the product on iPodlounge where he notes that it’s a novelty that gets boring quickly.

I was really looking forward to the Bluetooth-enabled item (NaviPlay) from Ten Technologies that was announced long ago and has never emerged. Sadly it would likely have been incompatible with many items that have since been released (inMotions, etc) that could really have benefit from its capabilities.

If you have all the items you mentioned, there’s no need to buy more… yet. :-) But there’s a certain battery adapter we are about to review that may become very popular…

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 15, 2004 at 12:39 AM (CDT)


The screen on my ipod is totally blank. It still plays the music but there is nothing on the screen. It just happened when i turned it on yesterday. I reset it but it still isnt working, any idea’s?

Posted by mary burke in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 15, 2004 at 5:26 AM (CDT)


I think you putting all this info. on the IPOD is a very good idea and will help me make the right decision on which I POD i will choose.Thanks

Posted by Jackie Young in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 16, 2004 at 1:11 AM (CDT)


jeremy, this is a brilliant article. wanted to know if you had any info on the bluetooth headphones.
now that will be one hell of a gadget worth owning.

Great inventions don’t just fulfill your needs. They change your life ! Such is the ipod !

Posted by vivek prabhakar in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 16, 2004 at 10:28 AM (CDT)

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