How long has your old iPod been in a drawer, unloved and dusty? Probably since the day you upgraded to a fancy new touch version or decided your smartphone would suffice from now on.
But wait! Your old iPod is still a more than capable device that eats MP3s for breakfast and even takes advantage of a few old-school apps. If you’re short on uses for your old white chum these days, read on…
First: Make It Awesome
This is somewhat of a precursor to all these steps, and may be required depending on the state of your old jukebox. The older your device, the worse the battery condition is going to be and the more bad sectors will be found on the hard drive. You can actually replace both the battery and the hard drive, and the process isn’t too difficult with the right tutorial.
Luckily there are detailed instructions regarding battery replacement over at iPodHowToVideo and batteries for your specific model can be ordered from retailers like iPodJuice and iPodBatteryDepot. If you’re unsure about doing this (or would rather pay someone else to do it) then Apple offers their own battery replacement service. This will of course cost you considerably more than doing it yourself, and depending on the age of your device, service may not be available.
As for the hard drive – those of you with “dead” iPods might benefit from Josh Highland’s advice in this blog post and for a comprehensive guide to upgrading your hard drive (i.e. putting in a larger capacity drive) then there’s a detailed article all about it over at Command Tab.
Finally you might want to Rockbox your iPod. Rockbox is replacement firmware that comes with many benefits over the stock iPod firmware. No longer will you need to transfer music using iTunes, simply connect your iPod as a drive and play using a file-tree view. Rockbox supports lots of filetypes including FLAC and WMA and even comes with custom themes, a few basic apps and games to keep you happy.
A while back I wrote an article all about Rockbox, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
If you’re after a car jukebox then your old iPod is more than up to the task. I’d recommend upgrading the hard drive as per the steps above, though a new battery isn’t strictly necessary as your car should keep the jukebox powered for the time you’re using it.
Every FM car radio is compatible with an FM transmitter, and you won’t even need to buy a fancy iPod-compatible iTrip or equivalent (cheap 3.5mm converters on eBay will do fine). Many cars also accept 3.5mm line-in or even a basic cassette converter (for the decidedly old-school amongst you).
Turn It Into A….Something
Modern smartphones might make your grim greyscale LCD look particularly outdated, but that doesn’t mean old iPods can’t still be useful in their own right. Arguably the most basic thing you could use an old iPod for is a storage drive, which is as easy as enabling disk mode. You can then use it to store files, boot portable apps or do anything else a normal USB hard drive can do.
There are also a number of good apps, and though many of these are made somewhat outdated compared to our always-on-the-go smartphones, some might still prove handy.
Are you going away with no Internet or 3G for a while? You might want Wikipedia in your pocket (or bits of it). Would a dedicated dictaphone be handy? Pick up an old iTalk or Belkin Voice Recorder on eBay. Those of you with iPod Photo or Video models can even download maps!
If you’re particularly artsy or good with your hands you could even get creative and integrate your iPod into something. I suggest an old 1980’s boombox for instant modern-meets-retro chic.
An “I Don’t Want To Ruin My iPhone” Device
Why drop your expensive iPhone 4S in the mud when your iPod will do the job just as well? As an insurance policy, an old iPod can be taken all sorts of places (and fiddled with) whilst your expensive smartphone remains safe and dry in your bag or pocket.
Going on a filthy hike through the mountains? Keep your mobile phone hidden from the elements and save your battery by further butchering your iPod. It deserves it! This applies to all sorts of places that might ruin your favourite gadget – building sites, the garden, music festivals, the beach…
If you’re really concerned you could even buy (or improvise) a super-tough case, who knows you might find some iPod Armor pretty cheap on eBay by now.
Relive Your Earlier Days
If your device has been lying dormant for years, then there’s a good chance it’s packed with music you may no longer have. If this is a problem, a simple recovery with iPod to Folder (you’ll need iTunes installed for drivers and it works on both Windows and Mac) should allow you to simply grab a backup of the files.
Mac users can use an even more powerful tool called Senuti which makes transferring music and videos (if your iPod plays them) even easier. You can then rock out to all the awful music you thought would change the world when you were young.
Hopefully your old MP3 player still has a bit of life left in it. Spare hard drives and even batteries aren’t as expensive as they once were, and by the time you’ve improved both storage and charge capacity your iPod will be better than ever. Good luck, and enjoy reviving an old friend.
Do you still use an old iPod? Which version have you got and what new uses have you put it to? Share your ideas below.