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Maximize Your iPod

Sunday, March 6, 2005; Page M03

Your iPod is already your new best friend, accompanying you to the gym, on your commute, plane trips -- and just about everywhere else. But there's even more to Apple's iconic (and addictive) MP3 player than meets the eye. Given the right accessory, it can moonlight as a digital voice recorder, remote control, or even a portable movie player. Here, we've highlighted the most functional gadgets to help you discover the hidden benefits of Apple's white wonder.

THEATER-TO-GO: First your iPod brought the music back into your life, pretty soon it'll bring in sturm und drang. Nyko's MoviePlayer (estimated price, $249; www.nyko.com) due this summer, looks like a miniature laptop with a 3.6-inch color LCD display. Use the included software to save a video file onto your iPod -- most feature-length films will take up well under 1 GB of space -- dock your little friend into the MoviePlayer, and voila! You've got a personal screening room. While the picture quality won't rival that of a portable DVD player, its compact size (and built-in battery, which lasts for about 3 to 6 hours) means you can take it anywhere.

A sound decision: The iPod fits snugly into the SoundDock for a perfect musical matrimony. (Nate Lankford For The Washington Post)

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STEREO SURROUND SOUND: A room littered with CDs is so 2004. Enter Bose's head-turning SoundDock ($299; www.bose.com/sounddock) which makes a home stereo out of your iPod. The streamlined, minimalist design delivers crisp, room-filling sound with nice bass that doesn't distort at high volume. Though it lacks the extra thump of a hi-fi, it's perfect for a bedroom or a small studio apartment. SoundDock works with any iPod with a docking connector (it'll recharge as it plays), and comes with a wafer-thin remote. If you crave desk-rattling decibels on the cheap(er), try JBL's Creature desktop speaker system ($99; www.jbl.com). The set even looks cool: The two speakers and massive subwoofers have a shape similar to Pacman ghosts, giving them a sleek outer-space vibe.

SPOKEN WORD: No more scrawling illegible notes on scraps of paper: Belkin's Voice Recorder ($34.99; www.belkin.com) plugs into your iPod's headphone jack to record memos, lectures and interviews straight onto its hard drive. The built-in speaker even lets you play back your recordings with the same clarity you'd get from a cassette-based machine, and you can save any of the hot air on your computer via iTunes. If you want to plug in a microphone to get rid of all that distracting background noise, Griffin's iTalk ($39.99; www.griffintechnology.com) offers an external jack in addition to a speaker.

ROCK STAR: If you've ever yearned for the chance to play your guitar alongside U2, here's your chance. JamPod ($49; www.dvforge.com) is a miniature amp that plugs directly into your iPod, letting you play electric guitar or bass along with any song you've stored. Grab your headphones and you'll swear you're in a portable, private studio.

REMOTE CONTROL FREAK: You've got better things to do than get up off the sofa to change a song. Which is where Belkin's TuneStage ($159; www.belkin.com), due out in May, and Griffin Technology's BlueTrip ($149; www.griffintechnology.com) step in. Using Bluetooth technology, these two products wirelessly play music stored on your iPod through your stereo's speakers from as far as 30 feet away. The TuneStage will connect via analog RCA cables, whereas Griffin's BlueTrip sports both optical (digital) and RCA connections.

Louis Ramirez

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