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Apple iPod Mini (second generation) review: Apple iPod Mini (second generation)

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 its 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 solid 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.

Apple includes Sennheiser earbuds that can be worn with or without padding.

Apple claims the internal battery takes between 2 and 4 hours to rejuice and lasts 18 hours on a single charge--this is just about on a par with the Rio Carbon's battery life and significantly better than the iPod Mini's previously rated time of 12 hours. In our tests, the iPod Mini beat this time by a little more than 3 hours, eking out 21.1 hours of tunes. 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 is compatible with both FireWire and USB 1.1/USB 2.0 connections. Over FireWire, our songs transferred at 2.5MB per second; over USB 2.0, they synced at a much brisker 6.3MB per second.

Apple claims an antiskip protection of 25 minutes, thanks to a 32MB flash buffer. We experienced no skipping during testing. But as with 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 Life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In hours  
Rave MP Arc 5.0 (5GB)

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