If the front of your iPod is too scratched up to fix—or if you’re just bored with the traditional white or black design—consider a custom paint job.
can paint your iPod’s non-chrome surfaces with one of 23 glossy finishes and apply a special scratch- and fade-resistant coating ($64 to $74, depending on the iPod model). There are even a few options available: $30 to have the rear chrome surface painted, $20 for a different Click Wheel color, $20 to have your iPod dock painted to match, and $20 to have your earbuds painted to match. Once painted, your music player will definitely stand out in the sea of iPods.
Dan Frakes is a
senior editor and the senior reviews editor at
Better battery life
When Apple rolled out its latest generation of video iPods, it also brought out a software update for older fifth-generation (5G) iPods that brought some—but not all—of the new iPods’ functionality to the original models. But it turns out that one of the update’s most unheralded features is actually the most impressive one: a huge improvement in iPod battery life.
Though the original 5G iPods don’t have the new models’ super-bright screens, the latest iPod Software version does let 5G iPod owners adjust their screens’ brightness. And the under-the-hood optimizations that let the new models achieve significantly longer battery life are, it turns out, mainly in software, not hardware. Combined, these two features make the software update a much cooler deal for owners of the original 5G iPods than many people have realized.
To investigate potential battery-life improvements, I tested a 60GB 5G iPod before and after updating its software by continuously playing some TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store until the iPod’s battery gave out.
The pre-updated iPod played back episodes of
Who Wants to Be a Superhero
for nearly 4 hours and 15 minutes before giving up the ghost. Not bad, and in line with what we found during our original review of these models. (Plus, it’s longer than the 3 hours of playback that Apple initially claimed for the 60GB model).
But then I updated the iPod’s software to the latest version: All of a sudden it could play for 4 hours and 53 minutes—39 minutes (around 18 percent) longer than before. And that was at maximum brightness; once I cranked down the iPod’s brightness to the halfway mark, the iPod turned into a regular Energizer Bunny. After a few hours, the battery indicator seemed to suggest that the iPod was about to die—but it was crying wolf. I stayed late at the office, and it kept running. I carried it home on the bus, and it kept running. Finally, as I sat at home eating a late dinner, the iPod ran out of juice—after an astonishing 9 hours and 10 minutes of video playback.
So here’s the moral of this story: If you’re running an original 5G iPod, don’t be sad that your software update didn’t include that nifty Search feature. Instead, be happy that your iPod’s battery life just got a free—and big—boost. And if you’re watching videos in dark environments that don’t require full brightness, turn the backlighting down. Your iPod will reward you with plenty of playback time.—