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iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern

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Turn Your iPod into a Portable Stereo

Tired of listening through headphones? Turn your iPod into a boom box.

The iPod is a great portable audio device. We all know that. But sometimes you want to listen to music without (gasp!) headphones. With a simple cable, you can hook up your iPod to a boom box or stereo. And, with the addition of a couple products, your iPod can become the boom box. Imagine, a boom box with full access to your entire digital library and the small size and portability of the iPod.

Connecting Your iPod to Your Stereo

The easiest way to connect your iPod to an external speaker is by buying a headphone-jack-to-RCA audio cable from an electronics store such as RadioShack. Plug the cable into your iPod headphone jack (or your iPod dock if you have one) and then plug the RCA audio jacks into your stereo receiver. Now, all the music you have on your iPod can be played on your home stereo. The sound quality is surprisingly good. You can also plug your iPod into your boom box this way.

A True iPod Portable Solution

The previous solution is great if you want to use your iPod with your home stereo. But what if you want to listen to your iPod on your deck or take a little iPod stereo with you on vacation so you can jam to some tunes in your hotel room? The best tool for the job is Altec Lansing’s inMotion portable audio system (http://www.alteclansing.com/store.asp; $149.95), an ultraportable powered speaker system made especially for the iPod. Connecting your iPod to the inMotion unit is as easy as placing your generation 2 or later iPod or iPod Mini into your iPod’s dock. The inMotion includes the following features:

  • A highly efficient digital amplifier (Class D)

  • High-performance, custom-designed neodymium Micro Drivers that delivers crystal-clear sound

  • Extra-long battery life that delivers up to 24 hours of continuous playback with four AA batteries

  • A lightweight design (15 ounces) that folds to be 8 inches wide, 5.4 inches deep, and 1.2 inches thick

  • A convenient auxiliary input jack for connection to other audio devices, including laptops, generation 1 iPods, and other MP3 players (3.5-mm stereo cable included)

  • Elegant, integrated power and volume controls

  • A headphone jack for private listening

If you have a generation 1 iPod, you can’t use the dock. However, Altec Lansing includes a cable for attaching your iPod through the headphone jack.

Visually, the iPod integrates nicely with inMotion, as shown in Figure 1-7. But the real fun begins once you press Play. There is a surprising amount of bass, and the highlights sound great too. The inMotion folds down to a compact slab that you can slip into the included bag for traveling. If you want to take the inMotion to the next level, hook up the naviPod remote (discussed in the following section) to your iPod while it is docked. Now you have a portable audio system that you can control from across the room!

The inMotion—a compact unit that gives off some serious sound

Figure 1-7. The inMotion—a compact unit that gives off some serious sound


Other manufacturers, recognizing the iPod’s popularity, are introducing versions of their own products for the iPod. One excellent product is the iPal by Tivoli (http://www.tivoliaudio.com/pPALIPOD.htm; $129.99). Tivoli is well known for packing audiophile-like sound into a small package, and the iPal is no exception. It comes in white and chrome to match your iPod. Connect the iPod via an auxiliary jack.

I’ve seen inMotions at the beach (be careful of the sand!), in the gym, and on bedside tables. Now you don’t need to carry around that cumbersome portable CD player that plays only one CD (how quaint is that!) at a time. With this hack, your iPod can rock the house wherever it goes.

Hacking the Hack

If you are using an iPod dock, a nice addition to your setup is a remote control. Check out TEN Technology’s naviPod (http://www.tentechnology.com/products/products_navipod_gen2.php; $49.95). Due to differences in the design of the generation 1 and later iPods, the naviPod comes in two versions.

Both versions are comprised of three parts. First, there is a small infrared (IR) unit that plugs into the top of your iPod. The second component is the actual remote which you can use to control the iPod from across the room. Functions include pause, rewind, fast-forward, and volume up/down. The remote’s capability is similar to that of a TV remote. In fact, if you have a universal remote for your TV, DVD player, etc., you can use it with the naviPod. The third piece is a metal stand that clicks into the side of the IR unit and holds up your iPod.

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