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Guest Post: Gadget Girl

This guest post is by Jean Anderson (aka "PandaLibrarian"), Continuing Education Coordinator for SCLS and gadget enthusiast!

By chance, I’ve become the “Gadget Girl” at SCLS. I really enjoy learning about all these new devices, thinking about them in conjunction with providing library services, and then transferring that knowledge to you at events like Gadget Training or Tech Day.  You may think that I have a house full of gadgets at home, but you’d be wrong.  While I do have a Palm, I use it mostly for work and its calendar function. I do have a cell phone – but it’s just that - a phone! I don’t have a smart phone and I’m not good at texting (Stef will confirm that).

One gadget that I have invested in is a good mp3 player. As you may recall from my email signature line, I’m always listening to books – CDs and on my player. When downloadable audiobooks became available at SCLS back in 2005 or 2006, I purchased a Creative Muvo player with 256 mb of memory. It held one book, was operated by one AAA battery, and had a direct USB connection to download audiobooks. A good start – then I added another Creative player – this one with 1 GB of memory. Now I could have more than one book on my player – but navigating through them wasn’t easy.

Panda&ZuneThen, SCLS purchased a Zune for the gadget packages and I was immediately hooked!  Why? While I enjoyed playing with the iPod, the iPod Nano, and the iPod Touch as part of learning the gadgets, I wasn’t as impressed with them because they didn’t work with OverDrive (at the time). Now, while Apple products work better with some OverDrive titles, it’s not the whole collection.  The Zune I chose to purchase was a 4G player, is fairly small (fits easily in my pocket), is much easier to navigate than my early Creative players, and it was on sale!  The Zune does have other features – it holds pictures, music, and can play games – but the one most important to me was the ability to download and listen to books from the library through OverDrive.

OverDrive has a really long list of Supported Portable Devices and I highly recommend browsing this list before you purchase a device. Think about how you plan on using the device – listening to music or books, downloading photos, playing games, accessing the Internet, watching movies, etc. – and then choose the device that fits your needs.

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I went through several mp3 players before landing on my own favorite, as well. I started with the 2G creative zen I won by participating in an Overdrive training, but it didn't have an easy menu to navigate. Then I switched to a Creative Zen with more memory, a good sized display screen and good navigation. The problem with this one was that while it held plenty of audiobooks, the connection to the headphones seems to have loosened, so I have to constantly finagle with the headphone connection to be able to hear the book... Then I got my favorite for my birthday, an iPod Nano. I've had it for over a year and love to listen to books, listen to music, make my own on-the-spot playlists to listen to, play Scrabble and a variety of Brain Challenge games (yes, my vision is still pretty good), listen to my favorite Free podcasts, view my fav. videocasts, and it's easy to navigate. I can even listen to a book or music while playing a game. Now I'm excited about iPod Touch, but I'm willing to wait a while longer before upgrading.

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