momready archives

iPods: How To Get The Music and How To Play It In Your Car

Posted by Elisa Taub
iPods: How To Get The Music and How To Play It In Your Car

by Elizabeth Rodgers

Tech Talk is a regular momready column, where each month Elizabeth Rodgers will write about Lifestyle Technology - technology that goes beyond the personal computer and improves the way you live. 

Know this: the iPod isn't the only game in town. It might not be the best fit for you, even. But it amounts to over 70% of the MP3 player market, so that's what we're going to talk about today.So we've all seen the iPod posters of very hip, funky music listeners. I'm still waiting for the silhouette of the pregnant mom with the stroller and earplugs feeding her a sublime funkadelic beat that (momentarily) makes her forget herself. Yet moms do use iPods and iTunes - it's just that iPods aren't promoted that way. I'm going to do Apple's work for them. Read on...

iTunes is the online jukebox that you use with your iPod. Not only can you listen to music on your iPod, you can also listen to podcasts (essentially, programming that is heard online, rather than the radio. A great feature of iTunes is the podcasts: there is even a collection of "Kids and Family" podcasts, so that if you subscribe to some of them (for free), you'll have fresh stories that are read aloud to put on the iPod. If you have an older iPod that you're not using much, you might want to consider dedicating it to your children's music: you’ll probably be able to carry their entire collection in an older model 10 gig iPod. Now, it's your kid's jukebox. Mom, you are so rad.

Did you know that if you buy an iPod, you have to either digitize all of your music or buy digital music online? This is not a bad thing, a difficult thing: it's just gonna cost you some time and some money. Digitize, you ask? It's a fancy word for uploading your music from your CD into your computer.

How to Digitize Your Music:

The following paragraph is a step-by-step guide. It's a little boring and doesn't make much sense unless you're sitting in front of your computer with iTunes open, so if you’re not, save it for later:

Open iTunes - which is available for the PC, by the way - just download it from Apple. Select preferences, under the iTunes menu and go to "advanced." Then, go to "importing." For "On CD Insert," select "Ask To Import" -- that way, it's not fully automatic and you can have a little control. Under "import using," select MP3 encoder - if you want to play your music on your iPod, that is. Make sure that the "setting" is on "high" or "higher" quality. Then press OK and insert your CD. It will automatically prompt you to see if you want to import it. Say yes!

That’s it! That's how you digitize your music. When it's done importing your CD, you'll see that the program is idle. And you'll be able to see your CD on your computer. Go on, click a track. What? You don't have speakers for your computer! Egads.

For less than $100, you can turn your computer into a stereo.

Or, you can buy a speaker system into which you dock your iPod.

But how do you play your iPod in the car, you ask? There are a few ways: one is high tech and one is low tech and one is the future.

Low Tech: Essentially, there is an adaptor that is shaped like a tape cassette, which has a cable running out of it. You pop the cassette into your player in your car and plug the cable into the iPod and you’re done. The iPod plays through the cassette player in your car. Caveat: The tape player adapters don't work with some cassette players that really swallow the tape.

High tech version: this adaptor has the iPod working through your FM car stereo. Essentially, you plug the iPod into the adaptor which not only charges the iPod for you, but also plays the music through an available FM frequency. Caveat: The FM adapters don't work that well in cities with a very full radio dial.

The future (that is already here in some instances): New cars and stereos are starting to come with a jack that you can plug right into. We rented a Chevy HHR last year that had it, and it was very convenient. There are also some expensive iPod docs from Harman-Kardon, Alpine, and others, but it's going to cost you either time and/or money to integrate it into your car's stereo. My suggestion is to wait until you buy that car.

Next time, we'll talk about renting music instead of buying. There are a lot of reasons why subscribing to a music service is a better alternative to buying music. Stay tuned!

Elizabeth Rodgers (along with her husband, Jonathon Fishman) is the founder of Ben's Ranch, a personal and small business technology service company. Elizabeth also writes for television and film.

For more info on Ben's Ranch please visit http://www.bensranch.com.

If you enjoy the column and would like to receive the monthly Ben's Ranch newsletter with even more pithy advice, email: lasso@bensranch.com and put "subscribe" in the subject line.