I can't remember exactly when and where I first heard about the new iPod Photo, but from that moment I couldn't wait to have one in my hands...

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I can’t remember exactly when and where I first heard about the new iPod Photo, but from that moment I couldn’t wait to have one in my hands.

The iPod’s progression from music player to music-and-photo player is logical, but it still seems like wishful thinking to keep all my digital music and photographs on one little device that can display slide shows on the player, or on a TV screen.

When the iPod Photo (20GB $499, 60GB $599, Macintosh/Windows) arrives, I charge it up, install the device software on my Macintosh and transfer the music in my iTunes library, plus photos and slide shows in my iPhoto library, to the iPod Photo. (iPhoto and iTunes are the standard Mac applications for organizing and storing photos and music as well as creating slide shows.)

Windows PC users can transfer music and photos to the iPod Photo by using the Windows version of iTunes to organize their music and Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album or the My Pictures folder to organize their photos.

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When everything is transferred to the iPod Photo, I play a slide show and watch it on the display screen.

That works fine, but the iPod screen is only 2 inches, so I plug the player into a TV for viewing the rest. Conveniently, the iPod Photo comes with RCA cables that connect the player to a TV. A few moments of fiddling with the remote and the first slide show appears on the big screen. It looks and sounds great.

Producing slide shows in iPhoto, carrying them around on the iPod, and showing them off to friends and relatives is so easy and works so well I’m in photographer’s heaven.

I particularly like not having to learn new software to create slide shows specifically for the player — I’ve already created them in iPhoto to view on the Mac, upload to my Web site and burn on DVDs — all I have to do is move them to the player.

My wish list for iPod Photo improvements is short, but significant: I wish it had a larger screen for easier viewing on the player, and it would be nice to watch video I’ve created in iMovie. Sometime, Apple might also consider adding an internal camera.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about other portable multimedia players, and now I’m wondering if this sort of device will be the next have-to-have handheld.

For example, the Olympus MR: 500i m:robe (20GB $500, Windows) stores and plays back music and photo collections on its 3.7-inch display screen or TV, plus it includes an internal 1.2 megapixel camera.

The Epson P-2000 Photo Viewer (40GB $499, Mac/Windows) stores and plays back photos, videos and music, and features a 3.8-inch screen for playback on the player or TV.

Another is the Archos Gmini 400 (20GB $350, Windows), which can store and play back photos, music, some games and movies on its little 2.2-inch screen, or TV.

I’ll try multimedia players like these and report back later.


iLife ’05:

Earlier I mentioned using iPhoto and iTunes software and now want to describe the updates of those and other applications in Apple’s newly introduced iLife ’05 ($79).

I have to say that iLife is the easiest and most useful collection of computer applications I’ve ever used. Most music, photo and movie-making tasks that a novice or intermediate user would need are there and so fully integrated it’s natural to move from one medium to multimedia without even noticing.

iLife ’05 includes the latest version of iTunes and new versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand. With these you can organize, edit and share photos and create slide shows; produce movies and burn them on DVDs; manage a music collection, download new songs and create music of your own.

Previously, iPhoto provided basic editing tools, and now iPhoto 5 adds exposure, color and sharpness adjustments plus you can import and edit uncompressed RAW images. For those who would rather buy prints, iPhoto 5 provides ways to order 4-inch by 6-inch prints (19 cents each) as well as hard and soft cover albums (starting at $4).

In addition to providing the tools to make edited movies, the new iMovie HD enables you to make instant movies by automatically importing video into clips, adding titles, transitions and music. iMovie HD will import video from standard DV camcorders, HDV camcorders and cameras that generate MPEG-4 video.

Besides adding new themes for making edited movies, iDVD 5 makes it possible to transfer video from a camcorder directly to a DVD. Plus, iDVD now supports all single-sided DVD formats (-R, +R, -RW, +RW) with a compatible Apple SuperDrive.

In addition to the basic recording studio provided in the first GarageBand, the new version includes 8-track recording, pitch and timing correction, and it displays and edits musical notation while you’re working.

iTunes 4.7.1 is the latest version and is included in iLife ’05, though it’s also a free download for Mac and PC. iTunes helps you organize a music collection, download new tunes, create playlists, and transfer them to iPods as well as CDs and DVDs.

Installing iLife and using each of its applications separately or in combination is pretty easy. If you have a Macintosh, you probably already use some iLife applications, and we’ll cover them more closely while making music and movies in future columns. We’ll also look at Apple’s new iWork ’05 set of applications.

Write Linda Knapp at lknapp@seattletimes.com; to read other Getting Started columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/gettingstarted