Apple is branching out, launching its first MP3 player, in the shape of the iPod. Unfortunately Windows users have been left out in the cold as it will only work with the Mac OS.

Some might say this is a strange marketing ploy, since Mac users only make up around five per cent of the total market, however the iPod relies on Apple’s MP3 software iTunes, which the company 'has no intention of porting to Windows', according to UK MD Mark Rogers.

It's a shame that Apple has chosen to be so exclusive, as the iPod has some pretty neat features, not least of which is FireWire support, which speeds up the transfer of files immeasurably. Another bonus is that the device charges its lithium polymer battery as it downloads songs. It also packs a 5GB hard drive, which can store up to 1,000 songs and supports both MP3 and WAV files, although WMA is an obvious omission.

As you might expect from Apple it's a good looking device, finished on one side in white and clear plastic, reminiscent of the iBook, although we weren't so sure about the chrome backing, which looks a bit tacky.

It measures 102x62x20mm and weighs 183g, making it the smallest high-capacity MP3 player. A large LCD display allows you to navigate your audio tracks, and you can choose from three separate views — playlists, artists and songs.

However, apart from its inability to work with over 90 per cent of computers, there is another major problem with the iPod — the price. It costs £329, which is expensive by anyone's standards, perhaps even the Mac faithfuls, and it's over £80 more than the rival Archos Jukebox recorder, which has a 6GB hard drive.