Design, ease of use, style
Sizable hard drive
Fast FireWire interface
No photo or video display
Long-since eclipsed by newer models
US$299 and up (available for much less online now)
Over the years, iPods have been improved and updated from a small box with five or so buttons on the front to a slim little package with just one button and a clickable wheel. When Apple introduced the first clickwheel iPod (the second major revision to the iPod line) the portable music player took a major leap forward.
The clickwheel iPod came in two models, a 20GB and 40GB version, with no differences other than the size of the hard drive. Both models came with FireWire connections for fast song transfer and black and white screens.
The major attraction of this generation, besides the larger hard drive size and other newer components, is the clickwheel. The clickwheel works just like a laptop mouse, in that it senses the movements your finger makes on it to scroll through menus and the music library. You can then click on it to make selections.
Streamlining the iPod’s interface from the five-button face to the two-button face was a major step forward in terms of ease of use and design. Prior to iPods being able to play video, this was where it was at in the portable music player world.
Now, with rumors of a full-screen video iPod with a clickwheel in software, rather than hardware, a similar jump in interface quality and sophistication could be in the offing. Here’s hoping.