Many Yachties, like me will be concidering and iPod as a music store for traveling, temper your desire for a brand name MP3 player with the following caveats. I've seen one as a present, another was given to a traveling friend as a going away prezzie. I've now got one whilst in Tonga. Here's why you shoud think twice before you buy.
An apple iPod is probably the only piece of consumer technology currently on the market that does not work out of the box. If you buy and iPod it will not work! It requires a fast reliable internet connection as well as the iPod itself. If you are, hmmm say in a third world country, or on a yacht, you may find your very expencive shiny new toy is about as usefull as a chocolate fireguard.
Requirements (before you give one as a present, or buy one)
A new iPod will probably need 2 things before it will work iTunes - apple's software (not suppiled due to apple's vanity) and the firmware (internal software for the iPod its self).
Thirdly a computer is required to do anything with said iPod. Either you must take a computer traveling with you or you must leave your iPod as it was when you left home. Remember this is a Yachty travelers site. Do not assume you can "borrow" a PC, iPods are not like usb sticks, you can't just plug them in and copy music (well you can if you invalidate your warentee and load RockBox).
Now iTunes is a simple 45 meg download of apples website, which is a really struggle, with a good reumable download manager on 3rd world internet. Its got many problems, well documented elsewhere, the worst from a yachyies point of view is that if it arbtiaraly decides you must have firmware for the iPod its self, the only way it can be downloaded is buy itunes its self. SInce in the case of a nano this is 58 meg you may well find your self up a creek without a means of propultion. I did. Now apples iTunes has no tollerance for poor internet, and will not resume. There is a way around this, not easy to find. You can manulay download the firmware buy hand from this website, apple don't let you. You then need to copy it to:
C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPod Software Updates
this is probably not a method recomened by apple, but it does work. I got the trick off an apple dealer, though he did it on a mac which uses a differnet directory.
Why the hell can't I copy songs to my ipod like a normal USB stick?
Search me, suspect its all the album art and stuff, but you can't. That means unlike cheapo usb stick players you are unlikely to be able to plug it into another persons laptop and swap (non copywrited obvioulsy) content with people. Which is irritating. It getts worse.... NOTE: there is a way but its Hardcore, see rockbox. elow
Like ships that pass in the night
Even if you have an iPod and use a computer belong to someone else, and they have iTunes, your Ipod still may not work. iPods set up with ms Windows won't work on a mac, and vice versa. Well they will but only when you bank them first, wich is unlikly you'll want to do. This "feature"* has the potential to irritate the traveller.
Hacking your iPod.
Ok you can get round many of the above problems. iTunes is not the only thing that will talk to an iPod. Media Monkey will too.Winamp can do it too. Instrutions here. Which is handy cos winamp has been mu music player of choice since the mid ninetiles. Or look here for 10 Alternatives to iTunes for managing your iPod.
I don't use this, but now you've learned the term firmware, remember its the coolest thing in electronic gagets. All electronics is a mini computer at heart these days. Just cos the manufacture suppiles the programming for it, the firmware, doesn't mean there aren't other firmwares out there. For the (some) iPods the alternatvie is Rock Box. Rock box is non apple firmware for your iPod, the linux geek mate who was given one went down this route, rock box frees you from the dependence on iTunes, it will be a usb stick. I don't use it, my ipod isn't supported, but I thourally approve. If Rock box does support it then apples firmware's gonna be pleading for its life.
* "feature" in IT terms is a bug, mistake, oversight or serendepedous occurance that may or may not be beneficial to the end user that never occured to the developers, but was handled when it tunred up by the marketing dept.