Clever iPod Tricks

James A. Martin
PC World
Friday, March 17, 2006; 12:10 AM

We all know that Apple's iPod is a sleek, must-have MP3 player. But did you know your iPod can help you mix a cocktail? Keep up on your e-mail? Record a TV program?

Here are eight things you might not have known you can do with your iPod.

M1, a series of software programs from British developer MagneticTime, is designed to let you listen to your e-mail on an iPod or other MP3 player, a PDA, or a mobile phone.

The software converts text in e-mail and Microsoft Word file attachments into speech and saves the results in MP3 files. MagneticTime adds a toolbar to Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. Click the toolbar to convert e-mail messages into speech files; then select the device to which the files will be uploaded. The idea is to let mobile professionals catch up on e-mail while driving, exercising, and so on. You can also create audio archives of messages for later reference.

The software sells for about $40 (U.S.) and is available from MagneticTime .

The video-capable iPod is old news, but here's a new twist: an accessory that turns almost any iPod into a video recorder.

ATO's iSee 360i has a 3.6-inch color screen, video and audio input/output jacks, a replaceable battery pack, and software for recording and playback. Your iPod slips into the iSee 360i. Once inside, you can record shows onto the iPod directly from a TV, camcorder, or other video source, the company says. And you can use the iSee 360i to connect an iPod to your TV for large-screen playback. For more details, go to the ATO site; the iSee 360i will be available this spring for $249.

Several products allow you to record live radio programs on your PC, then transfer them to your iPod for listening at your leisure. For example, you could try Griffin Technology's RadioShark ($70), or Applian Technologies' Replay Radio 6 (read " The Best Software You're Not Using " for a mini review of Replay Radio).

Lots of free and for-fee podcast audio tours are available for museums, historic sites, and other tourist attractions. Here are some places to look:

While you're out and about, you can free up storage space on your digital camera by transferring images to your iPod. To do so, you'll need the right accessory, like Apple's iPod Camera Connector ($29) or Belkin's Media Reader for iPod with Dock Connector ($50).

Next time you've got to make a presentation, whip out your iPod and use it as a laser pointer. Or when you're in the dark, use it as a flashlight. Griffin Technology's iBeams ($20) let you do both.

Talking Panda has gathered over 1000 cocktail recipes, some with audio, and mixed them into an iPod program called iBar ($30).

Need someone to push you harder on your next jog? Cardio Coach is one of several companies offering MP3 workouts that provide a personal trainer's guidance. Others include iTrain and GYMp3. Prices vary, depending on the company and the workout program. Here are a few sites to try:

Mobile Computing News, Reviews, #00026 Tips

If you tend to bang up your notebook on occasion, you may appreciate Panasonic's new Toughbook-W4 ( $2000 to $2300 ), a semirugged ultraportable with long battery life.

Wi-Fi access isn't always available or dependable. Fortunately, third-generation wireless data services--such as Verizon Wireless's EvDO BroadbandAccess service--have become more widely available. But how well do they work? To find out,PC Worldsent laptop-equipped reporters on the road. The verdict: Broadband networks are indeed ready for prime time. Read " Broadband to Go " for the full report.

The new LG F9200 smart phone is easy to use, affordable, and features a built-in QWERTY keyboard for e-mail and IM, saysPC Worldreviewer Grace Aquino. The F9200 is $150 with a two-year Cingular Wireless contract.

Is there a particularly cool mobile computing product or service I've missed? Got a spare story idea in your back pocket? Tell me about it . However, I regret that I'm unable to respond to tech-support questions, due to the volume of e-mail I receive.

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