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Apple iPod Mini (4GB review: Apple iPod Mini (4GB

You can use the iPod Mini to share music between multiple computers, but it's not easy, as the player syncs to only one version of iTunes. But there's an alternative. We were able to copy MP3 files from the Mini to a second computer's hard drive in Windows by turning on "View hidden files and folders" and browsing the Mini's internal directories in My Computer until we found the music. Mac OS X users can do the same thing if they install TinkerTool.

The iPod Mini has no compatibility problems transporting data files between computers (Macs or PCs) when you activate the Enable Disk Use function. In this approach, the Mini mounts as a data drive, but it hides music files unless you use the above-described workaround.

The electronics responsible for sound reproduction in the Apple iPod Mini are identical to those found on the iPod, so you get the same impressive sound quality and loud maximum output (30mW per channel). The included earbuds sound good, but our Shure E3c test headphones made the sonics shine even more.

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Apple includes Sennheiser earbuds that can be worn with or without padding.
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The optional armband lets your body act as shock absorption, but that might not be enough to protect the iPod Mini's hard drive from the long-term effects of jogging.

Apple claims the internal battery takes three hours to rejuice and lasts eight hours on a single charge. Our tests outperformed this rating, usually by about an hour. The battery is nonreplaceable, but if you're unhappy with its resiliency after a couple of years, Apple will swap in a new one for $99.

The Mini comes with both FireWire and USB 1.1/2.0 connections. Over FireWire, our songs transferred at 2.6MB per second; over USB 2.0, they synced at a brisker 3.18MB per second.

Apple claims an antiskip protection of 25 minutes, thanks to a 32MB flash buffer. We experienced no skipping during testing. But like all hard drive-based MP3 players, the iPod Mini is not as well suited for serious physical activity as flash-based players, which have no moving parts. That said, it would certainly work (and look) fine at the gym, especially with the optional armband.

File-transfer speed  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
MB per second  

Battery-drain tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Battery life in hours  

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