iPod Accessories
June 1, 2004 4:51 AM   Subscribe

In light of my ever mounting pile of music, and after much deliberation and review of the options, I've decided to buy a 40 gig iPod (Windows version). I have the PC (complete with firewire), I have the music software (iTunes, Anapod Explorer, CDex) and I have the music. However, does anyone have any suggestions on essential accessories (hardware or software) that I should buy at the same time as the iPod to save me a world of pain later on?
posted by ralawrence to Technology (18 answers total)
The only world of pain that I have with my iPod is the battery. After a while, it stops recharging to full capacity, and you a smaller and smaller time to listen between charges.

And there's no easy way to replace the battery. There ARE sites that explain how to replace it, but doing so will void your warranty (and if you're not technically-minded, you might screw up your iPod). Apple will replace it for you for $99, which is a bit steep.

The best deal I've found is to sign up for Apple's extended warranty, which I think lasts for two years. It costs about $60 and if anything goes wrong with your iPod during that time -- including the battery -- they'll fix it.

iPod battery replacement guide: http://www.ipodbattery.com/ipodinstall.htm

replacement batteries: http://store.craytonelectronics.com/ipac1.html

iPod battery FAQ: http://www.ipodbatteryfaq.com/

My favorite "add on" to the iPod is audible.com, which is a subscription service that allows you to download two audio books per month. The iPod can play them and bookmark them, so that you don't lose your place.
posted by grumblebee at 5:04 AM on June 1, 2004

Get a car power adapter and if relevant one of those cassette adapters... always useful if you end up in someone's car.

Always back up your iTunes Library and consider backing up the MP3s themselves onto another drive - will save you a lot of ripping if something goes wrong.

A pair of non-white headphones would be good to avoid muggings. A cable to plug the iPod into your home stereo. And those little rubber jackets are quite good in case you drop the iPod on a concrete floor.

Finally, get any extended warranty you can from Apple. I have bought a lot of Apple products and they've all been repaired or replaced several times.
posted by skylar at 5:06 AM on June 1, 2004

If you've got a car radio that can control a changer, and is supported, dension makes something called an "icelink" which looks incredibly cool. I don't have a supported radio, or else I'd have to immediatly buy one. Also an ipod.
posted by duckstab at 5:07 AM on June 1, 2004

Aw man, the dension thing is exactly what I'm after but it's not compatible with my stereo.
posted by substrate at 5:14 AM on June 1, 2004

I'd recommend WinAmp with ml_ipod plugin over iTunes.
posted by muckster at 5:32 AM on June 1, 2004

While it may be tempting, don't bother buying the Delkin Media reader just yet. It allows you to use your iPod as a mass storage device for CF cards -- in other words, you can dump your ComplactFlash cards filled with pictures you've just taken to your iPod. The problem is that it is notoriously slow*. Wait until the next version comes out; hopefully they'll have fixed the CF read/write issue by then.

*Slow = 10 minutes to download 1x256 Mb CompactFlash card.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 AM on June 1, 2004

Here's a guide for using EAC/LAME to make mp3s that don't sound like mp3s.
posted by Jairus at 6:43 AM on June 1, 2004

I have an iTrip for my car. It lets you basically broadcast stuff from your iPod to a free channel on your car's FM radio. Not the best for sound quality, and a little rough on long trips but it fits right on top of the iPod and means one less thing to carry in to and out of the car if you're using it multiple places. There's two models depending on what iPod you have, so if you get one, make sure it's right for your model.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 AM on June 1, 2004

I second iTrip. It has been an amazing commuting companion.
posted by anathema at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2004

There was an earlier AskMe thread that advocated caution regarding iTrips. I couldn't get my friend's to work in NYC at all--the FM dial's too crowded.

I think the 40 Gig pods come with a case, but I like my Xskn.
posted by muckster at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2004

The FCC limits devices like the ITrip et al to a very miserly transmitting strength. The result is that adjacent stations and other cars with bad alternators play havoc with your music.

The cassete adapters eventually trash your tape heads, but it takes a few years and are otherwise perfect for the task of feeding your IPod's signal into your car stereo. Also, some better-quality Car stereos have a preamp in circuit on the face of the car stereo.

As for software, the previously mentioned Winamp/IPod software is excellent (and free) and better still, Ephpod is everything ITunesPC is trying to be (and also free).
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:55 AM on June 1, 2004

I love my iPod -- it's the second I've owned, and I've not had any battery problems so far with my 3G iPod. I'm about to leave home for a month on the road and I'm wishing I'd bought the 40 GB instead of the 15!

My only advice -- buy yourself some in-ear earphones. I have the Apple ones; they're okay, but in retrospect I would have sprung for some more expensive ones that aren't white (like the ones from Shure). If you commute a lot on the subway, or if you listen on the plane or the bus, in-ear earphones block out surrounding sound and let you keep the volume turned down. I wouldn't bike or jog with them, but they definitely save your ears.
posted by josh at 8:11 AM on June 1, 2004

Also on the battery issue: while it's true that replacing the battery yourself will void the warranty, Apple will replace the battery for you if your warranty is still valid. In other words, if you have to replace it yourself, it's because your warranty has expired anyway, so invalidating said warranty isn't an issue. And if you don't have a spare $60 to buy the extended warranty right now (or if you'd just rather spend it on other things, like a swanky tweed case and a voice recorder), you can buy it anytime before the normal warranty (1 year) expires.
posted by Acetylene at 9:20 AM on June 1, 2004

ditto what civil disobedient says about the belkin media reader. it's very slow and while i haven't had any problems with it reading my 1 gig card, it always crapped out on derek (exact same card).
posted by heather at 9:37 AM on June 1, 2004

I'll add more vouching for the iTrip and the in-ear headphones.

Despite being in NYC, I've managed to hijack somewhat strong stations with the iTrip and block it out in just our car. Beats those tape adapters any day of the week.

The in-ear headphones are a godsend for noise blocking, although don't expect Apple's to be fantastic.

I'll also recommend you grab another FW/USB2 cable for use away from home, as unhooking the dock is tedious and it's nice to have one in the work place or for trips.
posted by Remy at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2004

If you want audio fidelity, consider buying high quality headphones. I am assuming you want earbud types, these are harder to sound as good as cans, but they can be found. Don't buy Bose headphones, you are spending at least $100 extra on something you don't need.

Seinheiser makes cans that are $50, although they are "cans", are small and ample, wear well, and sound very good in their price range. For a portable player, you may not want higher quality headphones. Think of listening to a cheap CD player with $500 headphones: You can hear the static of the laser beam moving, the cut off margin, the loss of fidelity. Even the $50 seinheisers can do that with a $30 CD player.

Be an audio snob and do your homework. If you don't want to do that, take my educated advice.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:55 PM on June 1, 2004

I'll 5th the iTrip. Although the fidelity isn't great, it's hardly noticeable with spoken word stuff. I'm in LA, where the FM spectrum is pretty packed, and have neglible interference problems in my 30 mile commute. It's also useful for listening through a home stereo or radio at work or wherever without fiddling with cables.
posted by shoos at 11:17 PM on June 1, 2004

If you have a PC and want to use iTunes I'll save you (hopefully) a world of hurt regarding the iTrip:

I received my 20G iPod and iTrip as a present, so I can't say for sure if there are different versions of the iTrip software available for purchase, but if there is it's not clearly marked. We bought our iTrip, tried installing it, and it automatically installed to MusicMatch Jukebox, which is great, if you're using MusicMatch. We were using iTunes. After a few weeks of half hearted attempts to get the damned software to recognize iTunes (the documentation SAID it would) we headed over to the website, to discover that iTunes PC users have to download the software from the site!

So now that we've done that we're still having problems getting iTunes to change channels and turn on/off the LED. Thankfully the default 87.9 frequency is hardly used and so we've been able to enjoy iTrip on recent roadtrips (and in our house through our older stereo.)

So BEWARE: iTrip is very cool, but at least from this PC users POV Griffin did a piss poor job documenting.
posted by absquatulate at 5:46 AM on June 2, 2004

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