USB and Firewire capabilities

Q: I am planning on getting an iPod for Christmas this year, but have a few concerns about putting music on it. I have an iBook G3 from mid-2001 that is equipped with USB 1.1, not 2.0, so I apparently can’t use the included cable. If I buy the Firewire cable, does this also charge the iPod while loading music?

– Jennifer

A: First, a USB 2.0 cable is completely compatible with USB 1.1 – no worries there, except that USB 1.1 can’t charge any iPod.

However, your question about Firewire is increasingly relevant. In the recent past, connectivity options haven’t been much of a problem – especially for Mac iPod users. With Apple’s recent decision to drop Firewire data transfer support on both the iPod nano and yesterday’s 5th Generation iPod, however, we felt it would be worth clarifying the situation for all users:

Here’s a current list of iPod data & charging capabilities:

iPod ModelUSB 1.1USB2.0Firewire
1st Gen –  – Charge & Sync
2nd Gen –  – Charge & Sync
3rd GenSync onlySync onlyCharge & Sync
4th GenSync onlyCharge & SyncCharge & Sync
PhotoSync onlyCharge & SyncCharge & Sync
5th GenSync onlyCharge & SyncCharge only
1G/2G miniSync onlyCharge & SyncCharge & Sync
nanoSync onlyCharge & SyncCharge only

What does this mean for you with respect to current and recent iPods? You can use Firewire for 4th Generation, photo, or mini iPods, transferring data at full speed. You can use the iPod nano or yesterday’s new 5th Generation iPods, but your transfer rate will be much slower than optimal.

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