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Words and pixels by M. Scott Smith

How'd They Do That? 🔗

Earlier this week, I received the silver iPod Mini I ordered a month or so ago. The Mini looks to be another homerun for Apple - reports indicate that over 100,000 were sold in its first week of availability.

My first reaction to the Mini is that it's much smaller than I imagined. It is also much more elegant than it appears in photos. The anodized aluminum shell looks to resist scratches much better than the full-size iPods, and as with all Apple products, it's clear that much thought went into every line and curve on the device.

I just can't figure out how it was manufactured.

The brushed aluminum - covering all sides but the very top and bottom - wraps seamlessly around the entire body of the Mini in one piece. There are no screws, and no visible way of opening the Mini short of drilling through it. How did they get the aluminum on? It fits snugly on the Mini, and the scroll wheel and screen protrude to be flush with the aluminum, so it doesn't appear that the aluminum could have been "slipped on."

Truly, I'm baffled. When you compare the Mini with other MP3 players on the market, you see how advanced Apple's industrial engineering has become. Most of the rest are plastic with visible screws and not much to look at. Apple gets that it's important for an MP3 player to sound good, but also to feel good in the hand and look good to the eye. After all, something like an MP3 player is a very personal device -- you take it with you everywhere you go. It doesn't sit on a desk in a cubicle all day.

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