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Prosoft Engineering gives sneak peek of Jax for iPod

Prosoft Engineering, makers of some popular Mac utilities like Data Rescue and Drive Genius, are getting ready to introduce something a little different than their flagship products. It's called Jax for iPod and it's expected to ship next month. I stopped by their Macworld booth for a preview and, unfortunately, left almost as confused about the product as I was before I got there. Not to mention, struck by how similar the Jax icon is to a certain iPhone carrier's logo.

Jax for iPod is difficult to describe. Not just for me - the press release and the people at the booth also failed the "elevator pitch." But I'll try to sum it up. It's an iPod/iTunes utility with a myriad of modules (er... Jaks, as they call them) that do a little bit of everything. Jax includes some new iTunes visualizers, a song lyric downloader, and an album art importer. It also allows you to sync up various bit of information with your iPod, such as directions, weather forecasts, stock quotes, movie listings, even local gas prices! It can sync RSS feeds, the contents of your email and your text documents in iPod notes format and play them back to you as spoken word tracks if you want. In addition, Jax allows you to download directly from YouTube and Google Video to your iPod, without going through another converter first. Jax features are upgradeable and many more plug-ins will be available for free as time goes on.

What I saw at the booth was an unfinished product, so it's hard to really judge until I get a full copy for review, but all of the Jaks are controlled through a menu in iTunes and the whole interface and concept reminds me a lot of Sherlock or Watson with all the different channels. That's what makes it so hard for me to grasp why I'd want it - it's doing too much. It seems to be trying to give my iPod a lot of PDA functionality, and make it a more versatile video viewer and feed me quickly-outdated information on stocks, weather and gas prices. Oh yeah, and give my iTunes some new visualizers. So far, I can't say I find the premise of Jax very appealing, and I can't help but wonder why they'd create this single app that serves so many different purposes, but I'll reserve further judgment until I see the finished product in February.

Prosoft Engineering, makers of some popular Mac utilities like Data Rescue and Drive Genius, are getting ready to introduce something a...