The Apple iPod is a much hyped piece of equipment. For any mobile professional that gives presentations it really does come in handy. Brain research, for example, shows how the brain remembers rhythms. This is why the use of music in your classroom can benefit the classroom environment.
I often get quite a few questions about the difference between an iPod and other music devices. So here, in a nutshell, is the condensed version:
1. Hard drive vs. flash drive. Hard drive players (like the new iPod video) are more expensive but also hold much more music. I currently have a 30GB hard drive iPod. It holds my entire music library PLUS a backup of the hard drive on my tablet. Flash drive MP3 players (such as the iPod Nano) are quite a bit cheaper but they also hold less music. If you have a relatively small music library then get the Nano. Hard drive players, because they have moving parts, have a greater chance of breakdown but I have yet to experience any problems.
2. Why buy an iPod over another brand? Apple just seems to have the whole package deal. You install iTunes on your PC or Mac, plug in your iPod, and that's it! iTunes is very easy to use and purchase music. My only recommendation would be to save any downloaded files as MP3 files. No, the quality is not quite as good as Apple Lossless (my hearing isn't the best - too many years of heavy metal! - so I can't really hear the difference) but you can use MP3 files on a greater variety of platforms. Please make sure that you understand that purchased music from iTunes cannot be played on other devices (although there are ways around this). If you "rip" your own CD collection (ripping is copying the music from a CD that you own into a digital file that your iPod can read) then you can play those files on a variety of devices.
You can buy a whole range of accessories for the iPod. There is everything from protective skins to speaker systems (an nice sounding to boot!!). Definitely take it into consideration when purchasing.
My beefs with the iPod? (1) More expensive - Apple is like the Sony of music players; (2) Perhaps music quality is not as good? - I've read quite a few different posts where people say that music players made by audio companies are better sounding. You judge; (3) No replaceable battery - if that rechargable poops out on you, you have to send it to Apple for replacement. What a pain! Mind you, it gives me an excuse to buy a new gadget! :)
I love my iPod! I listen to music, podcasts, and store my data. It's a great device for any teacher - have you ever seen what playing Enya can do for your art class? Amazing!
Before buying, make sure to listen to the different units at your local electronics store. DON'T let the salesperson bully you into buying the unit that THEY like. This is your device and you should make the final decision. I'll often take an hour before buying a new gadget - I'm usually happy in the end!