Cluelss mom needs advice as her 14 year old buys an iPod
September 9, 2006 4:30 PM   Subscribe

My 14 year old daughter wants to buy an iPod (with her own savings). I am a clueless mom. What should I know about type, price, where to buy, what to avoid - and anything else to help her make this a successful purchase.
posted by trii to Technology (30 answers total)
how much music does she have on her computer? (or in CD form..)
posted by sindas at 4:47 PM on September 9, 2006

Sindas's question is the right one. If she has a lot of music, or plans to have a lot of music in the next year or two - you want a standard iPod with 30 gigs of memory. Get it online or at an Apple Store.

A lot of music is defined as 10 gigabytes or more, which is probably 200 CD's or so.

If she has something more in the range of 50 or 100 CD's and she doesn't buy music regularly (so her collection won't be expanding much) she can get away with a smaller model like a Nano or a Mini.
posted by crapples at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2006

new ipods are around the corner. tuesday?
posted by mmdei at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2006

There's an Apple special event on Tuesday and there's a fair chance (though no guarantee) they'll bring out new ones. Don't do a thing until then.
posted by cillit bang at 4:54 PM on September 9, 2006

Yeah, definitely wait until Tuesday. Even if the new ipods don't suit your fancy, the prices on the old ones should go down.
posted by null terminated at 4:54 PM on September 9, 2006

Prices on iPods are pretty standardized so you can check the Apple store to see what they charge. If you happen to find one locally for a few (I've seen them up to $20 locally when they are trying to lure folks into stores) bucks less you can snap one up.

Some people initially experienced a lot os scratches on the black iPod nano. I did as well, but it doesn't bother me. I don't know if they really fixed that or not with subsequent issues.

I would avoid the shuffle as it has no viewable screen. I love my nano because it's so easy to carry around. I used to have a 40gb monochrome regular iPod before the color or video iPods came out. I'm waiting to see what happens this next week with Apple to decide whether I'll be purchasing another full size unit.

FYI - the reason I ditched the full size in favor of the nano was because having all of my music with me made it so hard for me to decide what to listen to that I just couldn't handle it. I've gotten better with playlists and now I'm feeling the love again.

And kudos to your daughter for saving up the dough to get this for herself.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:56 PM on September 9, 2006

I think there's something to be said for letting a 14 year old deal with this herself. If she blows it, she learns a lesson in life.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:01 PM on September 9, 2006

*shrug* The iPod Shuffle is cheap, durable, and easy-to-use. The 1Gb one is great - I've bought two for gifts so far. Apple uses something like 20% of the WORLD output of flash memory for its mp3 players, and thus gets a rather sizeable quantity discount, some of which it passes along to you... anyway, they're not expensive.

I personally disrecommend the larger capacity ones - they're more fragile, more expensive, and I think the benefit is minimal (you can always swap music on and off the device, which might be half the fun for a young girl anyway).

You might as well wait until Tuesday though to see if the prices go down.
posted by jellicle at 5:02 PM on September 9, 2006

The refurbished ones on the Apple site are a very good deal too. Apparently the replace the casing when they do the refurb, so you don't have to worry about scratches or anything. And they have the standard warranty.
posted by smackfu at 5:13 PM on September 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

smackfu: what about the battery?

I bought a white nano, & its perfect. It doesn't fit my entire music collection on (not nearly) but it has enough storage that I can put every song I actually am listening to at the time on. Wait until Tues, see what changes. If you can find someone at a university, they'll likely be able to get a significant discount through that (mine was 20% off through the university bookstore).
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:24 PM on September 9, 2006

Please make sure your computer will support an iPod. A friend got one for her little girl, only to learn that she couldn't load it up because her machine had Windows 98 (and wasn't upgradeable). That meant she had to get a new computer just to get the iPod to work.

I may be wrong about this, but I believe iPods are only compatible with Windows XP and the Mac OS ... also, make sure you have enough room on your hard drive to hold the music she'll want. If you're buying a 30 gig iPod, you'll need at least 40-50 gig free space on your hard drive in order to make loading it up easy and practical.
posted by jbickers at 5:34 PM on September 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

I may be wrong about this, but I believe iPods are only compatible with Windows XP and the Mac OS.

My 60bg video iPod works on my Win2k computer at work.
posted by rhapsodie at 5:42 PM on September 9, 2006

smackfu: what about the battery?

Good point. I presume it's the original battery. But if you choose a newer model like a nano or an iPod video, you know it's been manufactured in the last year, and the battery can't be that bad.

Regardless, it's much better to buy a refurb from Apple than a used one from eBay or something similar.
posted by smackfu at 5:52 PM on September 9, 2006

By going with the refurb she can go retro with a pink iPod Mini.

Don't waste her money on the huge iPods. If your daughter is like mine she will have a few songs that she listens to a lot, and not much else... Nono or refurb mini, but in any case wait til Tuesday.
posted by Gungho at 6:22 PM on September 9, 2006

All the iPods have a year warranty, which is good since they pretty much inevitably go splat. If she decides on a nano or a video, you probably want to think about getting Apple Care. It gives you an extra two years of warranty and costs about 60 or 70 bucks. I had a 3rd gen ipod that ended up being replaced three times over 3 years .. and i'm not sure the newer models are any more reliable.
posted by Orrorin at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2006

First, listen to everyone who says to wait until after the upcoming announcement.

That being said, I've got a 4GB Nano, and my girlfriend has a 40GB model. I prefer the Nano. It is light, small, and has good play time on a full charge. Fits great in a shirt pocket. The bigger models are too large and heavy for my taste. Furthermore, a large library can be very cumbersome to navigate, and scrolling around in a few hundred albums will burn through the charge faster than you might think.

Whatever she decides to buy, I'd recommend getting a case. iPods get scratched up pretty easily. When buying a case, be sure to try it out first—many have click-wheel covers that seem like a good idea, but impede functionality terribly. I got a leather one by inCase with a flap that snaps over the front. I like it.
posted by thinman at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

In my opinion, the Apply iPod is way over rated, over priced. With that said, please read the below copy/pasted quote from

"Apple makes a half decent MP3 player. I own or have owned several different Apple MP3 players. However, I feel that there are better choices available. There are other MP3 players out there that are easier to use, that give you more for your money, and that still have style and class. The problem is many people do not know what else is available. I talk to many people who think an iPod is their only choice. This is why this website was started, to show people their alternatives and to educate them so they are able to make their own informed decisions."

website >>
posted by jamjammo at 9:44 PM on September 9, 2006

jamjammo, this is a 14 year old girl. She doesn't give a shit about Ogg, or some weird-looking player that nobody else has, she wants an iPod.
posted by bonaldi at 10:28 PM on September 9, 2006

When I was a 14 year old boy, I wanted a walkman. Actually, I didn't just want a walkman, I wanted something walkman-like that recorded, in stereo with Dolby NR.

My parents tried to talk me out of it, citing the expense, the fragility, the likelyhood of theft, the cycle of obsolesence and the fact that something half the price would have been almost as useful.

Of course, I downplayed their concerns and bought it anyway. Looking back though, I think it was good that they took the time and effort to at least try to get me to think about being a responsible consumer, including the part about being a responsible non-consumer. It's worth planting all those seeds now, including the suggestion that she consider alternatives to the iPod, even though it may take years to sprout.

As for specific issues. You and your daughter should consider whether it's worth buying the AppleCare extended warranty (my personal vote is no).

Finally, you can coach her on the importance of knowing exactly what she wants and doesn't want when the time comes to actually make the buy in order to avoid being upsold in the heat of the moment.
posted by Good Brain at 12:52 AM on September 10, 2006

jamjammo: Recently I've done a fair bit of research on iPods and their competitors (including actually using the ones Anything But Ipod recommend including Creative, Archos & Sony) and every single one of them fails in one or more of the following ways: looks, size, weight, user interface, basic functionality, accessories support and PC synchronisation.

The iPod may be more expensive and may not have a replaceable battery but it does all of the above list very well or good enough for 90% of the target audience and so stands heads and shoulders over the rest - why do you think Microsoft are bringing out Zune?

To go back on track: Wait till Tuesday. When deciding what size to get, make her consider how much music she has now and the growth rate of her collection. 1 CD is, roughly, 40-50 megabytes so you can work how much she needs now and how much she'll need in the future (if she buys 1 CD a week then it will take 22 weeks to fill 1GB).

This assumes she wants to carry all the music she owns around her. It is possible to not do this, but the management of the music is harder and it kinda defies one of the main points of a iPod over a CD/small flash based player really.
posted by mr_silver at 3:03 AM on September 10, 2006

Learn to make smart playlists in iTunes.

I have one called "not rated Jazz continous" which consists only of jazz that I have not rated yet. I have similar for other types of music and that really helps getting through my 4000 songs. Of course I also have a "favorites" etc. too, for when I just want to listen to something that I am sure that I like.

I also find that I use podcasts a lot more than I anticipated, so I would recommend searching iTunes for that too. They can be everything from French lessons (The French Podclass) to the daily comic (Refrederator), so let her have a look at that too.

I had a 2GB Nano, which was okay, but I got a 60 GB as I lost the first one and I really enjoy having a full backup of all of my pictures and music on it too.
posted by KimG at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2006

The scuttlebutt on Tuesday's launch suggests an storage upgrade to the nanos, along with more durable casings. That's probably the sweet spot for yer 14-y-o. (The shuffle isn't shiny enough; the larger models are more fragile.) But as everyone's said, we'll know more when the announcement is made.
posted by holgate at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2006

Please tell her to listen to it quietly so she doesn't bother people around her and doesn't damage her hearing.
posted by philfromhavelock at 1:53 PM on September 10, 2006

Response by poster: Wow - thanks everyone - lots to think about and research. thanks for the tip about Tuesday, student discount, fragility issues, size issues and the rest. It takes an ask metafilter to raise a child!
posted by trii at 3:29 PM on September 10, 2006

Wait till after tomorrow for sure (sept 12th). They are going to announce new iPods. Beyond that, you should figure out if you want a small one (nano) or a big one (video), and then pick one based on how much music you have.
posted by chunking express at 11:13 AM on September 11, 2006

No one else mentioned this, my friend got his ipod a couple of years ago through best buy, and bought THEIR extended warranty (you know the one they always try to push on you). This may be the only time when their warranty was good.

He started with an old monochrome 40 gb (which turned out to be the most defective one) went through about three of those, (replaced by Best Buy) and now has a 60gig color.

So if she's set on one of the larger models, that warranty may be worth it.
posted by stratastar at 1:10 PM on September 11, 2006

He started with an old monochrome 40 gb (which turned out to be the most defective one) went through about three of those, (replaced by Best Buy) and now has a 60gig color.

I just really don't understand what people do to their iPods. I've had three myself (two fullsize and the current nano). I never had a problem with any of them - simply wanted new features or a smaller item to carry. Am I just really lucky or is everyone else mean to theirs?
posted by FlamingBore at 4:36 PM on September 11, 2006

Second the "she's a 14 year old girl, she won't give a crap about OGG support." Nobody really uses OGG anyway, except for a few die-hard grizzled open source hippies. I haven't met one single person that uses OGG. Ever. I see them online on occasion, but that's about it.

OP: also consider telling her about the refurbished units. She'll never know that the unit was refurbished, and neither will her friends. She'll probably save a few bucks. either that, or go with the student discount.

stratastar: my old roommate tried that. Best Buy claimed that the product showed evidence of abuse and said "nope, no dice." They really don't care about the negative press they get, it seems.
posted by drstein at 8:22 PM on September 11, 2006

Okay, so:

Redesigned nano - not a fan of the design, but the improved battery life = rock. The pricing options/color options = suck.

The improved battery life on the full size = rock.

The new shuffle = kind of cool. I'll be giving those as gifts this holiday season.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:23 PM on September 12, 2006

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