You just got a new iPod or other music player over the holidays, and your older iPod looks like Craigslist fodder. Here are at least 10 reasons to re-consider its worthiness.
In general, we're asking anyone thinking about ditching their older iPod to consider what it truly is—a super-slim, substantial storage device, from which you can do, well, just about anything you'd do with a USB or external drive, with a convenient tiny screen and headphone jack attached. So we've compiled ten of our best tools for making the most of an older iPod below. Read on, plug in your tried-and-true iPod, and get creative. Photo by ZabriskiePoint.
10. Make it a flash card player
Whether you're prepping for a presentation or cramming for a test, your iPod can be a much more convenient way to carry your memory-boosting flash cards around than trying to cram a whole deck of 3x5s in your pocket. Mac OSX Hints has a through guide to transforming Keynote slides into iPod-ready picture slides, but any slide presentation maker that can export slides to picture files can create a folder that you simply sync up to your iPod. Your mileage will vary with your screen size and clarity, but for straight-up words, it's a handy hack. Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion blog details a similar spin on using your iPod as a presentation tool.
9. Instant stereo, just add speakers
No matter how old your iPod, it's still a pretty efficient music holder and player. If you're hesitant to shell out big cash for a full-fledged stereo system, your trusty iPod is a great hub for your music. CNET details why you should give your iPod speakers, noting the benefits of simultaneously ditching your actual-plastic CDs—or at least putting them deep into storage—and simplifying your music life through the power of "Shuffle." It's not a solution for audiophiles, but it is the start of a no-hassle, instant-on system for any room in the house.
8. Your portable drinks/recipe/Wikipedia reference
Next time your dinner party or casual chat session turns into a debate about what happened to the star of A Christmas Story or how to properly make a sidecar, pull out your spare iPod and put the details to rest. The fully-fledged Encyclopodia project can put the majority of Wikipedia's useful articles on your iPod without messing up its main functions. iPod Bartender puts just what you think it might into your player, and those who don't like printing or lugging a laptop into their kitchen just for recipe reference should take a look at PodGourmet.
7. Make it your backup drive
Simple, but supremely useful, enabling and using an iPod's "Disk Mode"—basically opening up for use as a USB drive—pays off in a number of ways. After speeding up your iPod drive with disk defragging, you can boot your Mac from it, use it with most any Windows backup program that lets you choose a save location, automatically back up your Mac home folder with iPodBackup, and generally stash away anything you want on one of the most space-optimized drives around.
6. Free it from iTunes' grasp
If you live in a world of Windows systems and you're sick of being tied down to iTunes and its memory-hogging tendencies, you don't have to live with it. Back in 2006, Adam showed us how to make a self-sustaining iPod using the free vPod software. vPod's author notes that the tool for directly adding your music doesn't work with the newer firmwares available for most iPods since iTunes upgraded beyond 7.3, but for an older unit that's been gathering dust, that's probably not an issue. For a newer spin on no-iTunes-required, take a look at Adam's newer iPod independence guide, or check out SharePod, Songbird, MediaMonkey a try. And then there's Floola, in a class by itself because it can run directly from your iPod and transfer songs on and off it.
5. Make a stand-alone, bootable XP computer from it
Sure, you can carry around the portable versions of your favorite Windows apps on your iPod's drive, but you can ensure absolutely nothing gets changed on your friends' and relatives' PCs by booting your own Windows system from your iPod. Gina detailed the process using an XP installation CD and the MojoPac software. The no-restrictions version isn't free ($29.99 for a license), but there's a free version that gives you a virtual XP desktop—and that might be just what you need.
4. Load it up with games
Apple's iTunes store offers up games for both older video iPods and the newer iPod touch models, but if you're just looking for a little airport time-killing, why pay for your games, or feel forced into an upgrade? Install iPod Linux on nearly any iPod, and you'll be able to play games on your iPod for free. The previously screenshot-toured Rockbox also brings games onto your older music box, but the open-source Linux installation is a bit easier, and the games seem a bit more appealing.
3. Give it a new look with iPodWizard
If you've got any iPod other than a second or third generation nano, the iPod classic, or the iPod touch, you can give it a new look and feel while keeping its basic controls in place. The free application iPodWizard does it with style, as we've shown you in our walkthrough and screenshot tour. Your friend/frenemy may have the hotter new gear, but only your iPod isn't sport the same old OS-X-lite look.
2. Turn it into an ultimate go-anywhere tool
Shelling out cash for larger jump drives when you've already got an iPod with a minimum of 4GB available isn't necessary. Gina put together a list of apps, files, and tools for putting your life on a portable drive, and these days, the average iPod can hold all that, your music, and probably a sizable batch of video files and photos with it. If, for example, you're never quite sure if you'll have access to a working copy of Microsoft Office when you need it, a full copy of OpenOffice.org 3.0 is available in a no-install, portable version that fits snugly into your little take-everywhere drive, as are plenty of other PortableApps.
1. Make a serious upgrade with RockBox
Until you've taken the plunge and put Rockbox's new, improved firmware on your older iPod, you haven't seen the significant rebirth a seemingly dated device can undergo. Apple gave you a device that can play music, and maybe display photos or videos as well, but RockBox gives you games ranging from Sudoku to Doom, a calculator, a timer, much greater control over your files from your device, support for a wider range of music files, and much more. Check out our screenshot tour of RockBox 3.0, then go and grab the RockboxUtility for Windows, Mac, or Linux systems.
What do you plan to do with your older iPod, or what have you done in the past when you got an upgrade? Tell us your reuse and renovation stories in the comments.