What is a Podcast?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODELMP3 players are a popular way to bring your music with you. One of the first to really innovate in this space was Apple with their iPod some nine years ago. MP3's were gaining popularity at the time because it enabled people to easily move music from device to device by turning it to data and compressing it. Apple, by launching the iPod with their online music store, changed the way music was bought and brought along. The Apple scheme changed the way music was distributed and sold. Podcasts are a natural evolution that stemmed from that piece of innovation. Now, think of podcasts as radio shows. The difference is that while radio shows are broadcast over the air, podcasts are recorded and distributed through the internet. You subscribed to a podcast using podcatchers. iTunes, aside from managing your personal MP3's can also be used to subscribe to podcasts. To learn how to subscribe to podcasts using iTunes, go to this page.

Here's how podcasts work. With every new episode, an update is posted on the internet. The update or notice is published on a special page called an RSS page. A podcatcher, or say iTunes, regularly checks the RSS pages of the podcasts that you've subscribed to. When it notices a new episode, it then downloads that. Depending on your preferences, you iPod can be updated with the new episodes automatically or only when you tell it to do so.

Listening to podcasts isn't limited to the iPod or iTunes. There are a plethora or MP3 players and portable media devices that can be used to listen to them. A few that I have tried and liked are the Creative Zen M, RCA Lyra and Sandisk Sansa. There are also a veritable cornucopia of podcatchers and management software that you can use to subcribe to podcasts and sync them to your music player. One of my favorites is DoubleTwist, touted by some as an iTunes alternative. I like it because aside from syncing media players, it can also sync media to phones. It can be slow at times though. Over on the linux end, I use Banshee. Starting with version 1.7.2 (i think), it supports syncing to Android phones ;-)

Archos 7 8 GB Home Tablet with Android (Black)In recent years, video podcasts have also gained popularity. Think of a video podcast as a TV shows, only not broadcast over the air or distributed through cable channels. Video podcasts are distributed over the internet, much the same way podcasts are.

Podcasts are usually very focused on specific niches and most cater only to specific interests. Two of the most popular podcast networks are TWIT and Revision 3. A lot of traditional news organizations have also jumped on the podcast band wagon. BBC and CNN offer their own niche-interest podcasts as well as news over their feeds. Even Fox News has a podcast.

So if you've got some interest in something, why not try and look for a podcast. You might find the knitting show that you've been looking for for so long.


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