Well, time to add my voice to all those people out there chanting words to the effect of “0mg 0mg 1t r177y c4m3!!!1!!!11! 1ts n0t 4 h04xx0r!!!!11!1!!!1!1!!!!!”

My free iPod arrived today.

It came by FedEx while I was at work, shipped directly from Apple, so I had a neighbor drive me up to fetch it from the nearby FedEx depot. I got the small cubical box home and slit open the top panels, and the first thing I saw peering out at me was a square black panel with the white Apple logo in the middle. I tipped up the box, and it slowly slid out: the 20 gb 3rd gen iPod box, in all its shrink-wrapped, multi-colored, black-silhouette-with-white-gizmoed glory. I have it sitting on the table next to me as I type now.

I haven’t actually opened it yet. I’m not going to be able to use it, really, until I have id3 tags on all my copious collection of mp3s, and until I have a good carrying case (as I hear that iPods will scratch if you so much as look at them funny). I’m thinking I should leave it pristine until I’m actually set to hook it up, and…and…oh, heck with it, let me at that shrinkwrap.

First impressions: wow, the packaging is impressive. It’s almost as stylish as the device itself. You slide the black box out of the multi-colored jacket, then it opens around the middle…and sort of unfolds like origami. It’s almost like seeing the opening titles of a movie or a computer game: the first unfold produces two white panels, and the right one says “Designed by Apple in California” in grey letters on it. You unfold those, and on the left, the white square of the CD-ROM envelope and the word “Enjoy” in gray to the rightward edge. To the right, the Device Itself, in a little plastic wrapper with “Don’t steal music,” printed on it in four languages (English, French, German, Japanese). The tray in which the device sits lifts out to reveal the charger plugin; the CD box lifts out to reveal a USB cable and the “oh please mug me” earbuds.

I fiddled with the thing long enough to turn it on and see that at least the menus work. Then I put it back. No sense in messing around with it until I can actually take the time to tag all my songs and put it to use. Sure is a neat little thing, though. I mean, it’s smaller than a box of cigarettes, and it can hold 20 gigabytes of Stuff.

I can’t wait to try it out. Probably be this weekend before I can mess much with it, though.

Anyway, now you know: it’s actually legit. Yes, Virginia, there is a free iPod.

Here are my other stories about the Free iPod people, in reverse-chronological order:

Free iPods Redux Squared

Free iPods Redux

Free iPods: Worth the Cost?