Questions and Answers: Apple's Video iPod

Watching videos purchased at Apple's iTunes online store should be a snap for tech-smart consumers. (Related item: Apple releases video iPod)

USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham walks you through the process and answers some common questions:

Q: How would I play a video on the new iPod?

A: Download the latest version of Apple's free iTunes software, iTunes

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The program manages digital media content on your computer and takes you to the iTunes Music Store.

The iTunes store offers songs for 99 cents each, free audio broadcasts from the likes of ABC News and National Public Radio and now 2,000 music videos, episodes from five TV series and shorts from animation studio Pixar, the makers of Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

Q: Once I download the video, what can I do with it?

A: Watch it on your Windows or Macintosh computer or on the new iPods. You can burn the shows to a CD or DVD, but only as a data disk backup.

The files are copy-protected and can't be viewed on a DVD player for TV playback.

Q: Can I connect a video iPod to my TV?

A: Yes. The video iPod has a video output and can be connected directly to the TV. You could do the same with a laptop if it has a TV output.

Q: How do I watch the videos on the computer?

A: Click the "Videos" tab in iTunes. Double-click on the video you want. You'll see the TV program or music video begin to play in a window at the bottom of the screen. Dragging and resizing the window will give you a bigger image.

If you're savvy and know where the file resides on your computer, you can also view it in your QuickTime media player by right-clicking on the file (on Windows computers). The file won't play in Windows Media Player or RealPlayer.

Q: How's the image quality?

A: The TV shows we downloaded Wednesday looked terrific, even at full screen. Not as good as a plasma, high-definition TV image, but a good sharp picture with excellent sound. The music videos, however, were of lower quality.

Q: What's so revolutionary about being able to buy music videos online?

A: Music videos have been shown for free on the Web for years, with Yahoo Music and AOL Music the two most-popular sites. Apple's iTunes started showing music videos this year for free as well. However, they are available for viewing only.

Wednesday marked the first major commercial deployment of online music videos for sale.

Q: How many music videos are available?

A: Apple says 2,000. They are primarily from Universal Music Group and include artists such as Kanye West, U2 and Shania Twain. Apple wouldn't discuss its deals with labels Wednesday.

Q: Can I transfer other video content I own to the video iPod?

A: Yes, non-copy-protected videos (home videos, for example) can be transferred, via Apple's $29.95 QuickTime Pro 7 software.

Q: Is the video iPod the first video player?

A: No, some personal digital assistants offer video playback, and PalmOne's Treo 650 and several high-end cellphones even play live TV on screens that are smaller than the 2.5-inch iPod.

Microsoft introduced portable video in 2004's Portable Media Center, a bigger, bulkier and more expensive ($400 to $500) device from Samsung, Creative Technologies, iRiver and other companies.

Copyright 2005 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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