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Hands-on with the iPad's iPod

CNET Senior Editor Donald Bell gives some hands-on impressions of the iPod capabilities of the Apple iPad, including a quick video that shows playlist creation.

Now playing: Watch this: Music playlists on the Apple iPad

Overall, Apple's iPad looks and behaves like a scaled-up version of an iPod Touch or iPhone, but there are some key differences that distinguish the iPad from its pocket-size comrades. One of these differences, surprisingly, is music playback.

Clicking on the iPod icon sitting in the virtual tray at the bottom of the iPad opens up a music browser that looks nothing like any previous generation of iPod or iPhone, but instead, works like a stripped-down version of Apple's iTunes music software. There's the familiar iTunes gray bar running across the top, with playback controls, a volume slider, a search box, and the little progress/scrubber bar. Playlists are perpetually pinned to a sidebar, along with icons for audio books, music, music videos, and podcasts.

Across the bottom you'll find buttons for creating genius playlists or standard playlists (the latter, oddly enough, being a new feature), along with tabs to sort your music by songs, artists, albums, genres, or composers. I also noticed that pressing on the cover art in the bottom left corner will expand the artwork to full screen.

Image of Apple iPad using the built-in iPod music browser.
Music on the iPad feels more like iTunes than the iPod or iPhone. Apple

But in spite of how much the iPad's music browser looks and acts like iTunes, it's really a bit of a hybrid between the iTunes interface and the capabilities of the iPod's browser. For better or worse, there are no extensive preferences to tweak, no sorting options beyond the previously mentioned tabs, no importing of audio beyond over-the-air purchases and media transferred from your computer, and no smart playlists.

Also, oddly enough, there's no Cover Flow view on the iPad--which seems like a shame, given how much the device feels like a throwback to the album era. Which brings up another surprise: no iTunes LP support. Surely with all this screen real estate and processor power, Apple's media-enrichediTunes LP format would make a perfect fit for the iPad. In fact, it seems like such a no-brainer, I suspect that compatibility will be announced once the iPad goes on sale in April (along with some other announcements, perhaps).

So that's the iPad's music browser in a nutshell, based on my brief time with it. For a video demonstration showing how to create standard music playlists using the iPad, check out my short hands-on video. If you have any other questions about the iPad's music features, feel free to leave them in the comments.