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IPod friends can swap songs with
Category: Personal Technology
In the world of iPod accessories - 4,000-plus and counting - the ones worth the money are those that improve the listening experience. I have two for you today, one that will be great when the bugs are worked out and a pair of headphones that make iPod portability even better.
Let's start with the almost-there product. "Almost" because it worked with some iPods I tested, but not all. I often won't write about a product proving unreliable, but I really like what this does and, more importantly, I believe that the people building it will soon get it right.
It's called miShare, and the simple, rectangular gadget is smaller than a standard iPod but bigger than the redesigned Nano (affectionately dubbed the "fatty"). At both ends there is a 30-pin adapter to connect two iPods to transfer songs from one to another.
And it works, mostly.
Plug an iPod with the music to share into the source end. Let's call this the "pitcher." (Hey, baseball season is here!) At the other end, plug into the "catcher" iPod to receive the music.
Unfortunately, my 80-gigabyte iPod did not work as a catcher. But as a pitcher, it sent songs to my fatty. With the fatty, I was able to share music - as a pitcher and catcher - with a colleague's iPod.
That's why I love this little gadget. It's designed to swap music between friends, so you can share iPod playlists and tips on new artists. This is very convenient and fast; songs move over in seconds.
There are a few reasons why I had trouble with some iPods.
First, it will not work with the Touch or the iPhone, yet.
Second, the catcher iPod must be in "manual" update mode. When you plug your iPod into a computer to sync it, the default setting is for automatic updates, but it is easy to switch to manual. In manual, whenever you add music, movies or photos to your computer and want it on the iPod, you instruct the iPod to pick up that content.
But changing this setting on my 80 GB iPod didn't fix my problem.
Third, the miShare developers - two guys working from a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment - are working out some bugs. My big iPod, for instance, has too much data on it, causing transfer problems. But the fatty, which can hold up to 8 GB worth of content, did not have that issue.
This issue and some others - you can share video and photos too, but not seamlessly - will be addressed in a software upgrade set for release in a few weeks, said co-founder Nathaniel Wice. He called my issue an "intermittent problem" related to the iTunes database.
Another update will follow to address compatibility issues with the Touch and iPhone.
Wice called the development of miShare, which runs on the open-source Linux platform, a "constant" work in progress.
Despite the early flaws, I recommend miShare. It will only improve, and the software on the device can be upgraded so you won't have to buy another. It is sold for $100 at www.miShare.com, and discussions are under way with a major brick-and-mortar retailer, Wice said.
A SOUND ENHANCEMENT
Regular readers know I often recommend iPod buyers improve the sound with new headphones.
The iMuffs do that plus provide a great wireless connection via Bluetooth. They are made by Wi-Gear and can be bought on the firm's site, Wi-Gear.com.
The model I tested sold for $150 and paired easily and quickly with each iPod I tested, except one, the iPod Touch. Wi-Gear has introduced a new model, the $180 MB210, which works with the Touch.
I also tested the iMuffs on a TV-playing phone, the Verizon Voyager, and was quite pleased that I could watch live games from the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament while listening with the iMuffs. Beautiful.