Except for a tiny etched Apple logo on the mirrorlike chrome back, there are no identifying marks on the monochrome iPod. There's a generous 2-inch LCD (about as big as displays get on portable music players) and a dial surrounding a protruding select button. Rotate the dial while a song is playing, and the iPod knows to adjust the volume. Rotate it while you're viewing a playlist, and instead it controls a highlight bar that scrolls through titles, automatically accelerating when you're scanning a lengthy list, such as all of the loaded songs in alphabetical order. Song titles that don't fit the screen crawl across it. A progress bar shows how far along a song has played. A backlight can be set to stay on for a few seconds whenever you touch the dial, though in daylight I found menus easier to read without it.
All in all, the iPod has one of the most intuitive interfaces I've ever used, which is quite an accomplishment considering that what it's really doing is managing a whole lot of data. Still, the absence of a dedicated volume control takes a little getting used to. If you're using the dial to change settings or scroll through a playlist, you have to select the Now Playing option to adjust the volume or wait 10 seconds until the LCD reverts to the Now Playing screen.
The iPod's one hint of color, an orange tab revealed only when the Hold setting is switched on, proved invaluable as it disables all other controls. Considering how easy it was for the iPod to turn itself on and drain its battery by pressing up against other items in my gym bag or shoulder bag, I wish I'd started using it immediately. Curiously, turning off the iPod is more challenging - you have to press the play/ pause button for several seconds.
Apple includes a set of pedestrian earbud phones, though they're the first I've seen in white. I've never liked the sensation of hard plastic nubs in my ears, and they fall out too easily during exercise. Fortunately, Apple also supplies a pair of nub-huggers made of stretchable foam that actually make the buds comfortable to wear and snug, too.
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