A few months ago my 4th gen 40GB click wheel HP iPod stopped playing in the middle of a song and the controls stopped responding. The hard drive started making a clicking noise, very soft but a definite shouldn't-make-this-noise kind of clicking. After letting it sit for 10 minutes or so it resumed playing normally. This happened three or four times, weeks apart from each other, but always resumed playing.
Last weekend it stopped playing and showed the folder with exclamation point
icon. After letting it sit for a bit, the icon went away, all of the controls respond properly, and it pretends to play, but no sound comes through the earphones. If I put the iPod up to my ear, it doesn't sound like the hard drive is spinning, but if I shake it (when the power is off) there is a teeny tiny rattling sound, as if there is a loose piece inside.
If I plug it into the computer, either my computer at home or at work (WinXP and Win2k, respectively), using either the USB or Firewire ports, it will charge and give me the "Do Not Disconnect" message, but iTunes does not recognize it. And the hard drive clicks like it did before. It appears in My Computer as a drive letter, but I cannot open the drive.
I have reset it and tried restoring it with iPod Updater, but the software doesn't recognize it, either. I've put it into diagnostics mode
and all of the scans, including the HDD Scan, report that all is A-OKAY.
It is one year and three months old, and therefore past its warranty. Is it really dead even though it pretends to work? Should I try prying the cover off to see what might be rattling? Should I just toss it and swallow a few hundred and get a new one?