Breathing new life into an old iPod with a few thoughtful upgrades

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,244   +158
Staff member
Editor's take: Streaming services may seem like the holy grail of music delivery but they do have their shortcomings. Recurring fees can add up, and fluid licensing agreements mean content comes and goes without warning. Plus, there's no guarantee your provider will have everything you want, especially if you are into more obscure tunes. And what happens if an artist you like gets into a spat with a provider?

There are two schools of thought when modifying an old iPod: modernize it to make it compatible with music streaming services like Spotify or… make it more iPod-like. Ellie Huxtable chose the latter route.

The software engineer recently set about upgrading a 5th gen iPod Video for 2022. Huxtable selected this model due to its plastic front and the fact that it was the last to feature a DAC from Wolfson. Armed with various guides from iFixit and a set of iPod tools, the first order of business was to crack open the shell and remove the 80GB hard drive.

Huxtable replaced the spinning disk drive with an iFlash Quad, which is a microSD adapter with four microSD card slots for the iPod. It can be used in standard mode with one card or with a full set of cards in JBOD (just a bunch of disks) mode for greater storage capacity.

The adapter consumes less power than a HDD or SSD. It also generates less heat than either of the aforementioned drive types and is thinner, meaning you can cram in a larger battery – wins all around.

Speaking of the battery, Huxtable opted for a 3000mAh unit from eBay. Also sourced from eBay was a clear front bezel and a new rear case to reflect the updated storage capacity.

It buttoned all up without issue. Huxtable promptly installed Rockbox and a theme called “FreshOS” for a more modern look. As an added bonus, the iPod no longer needs to connect with iTunes – it simply mounts as an external storage drive, so files can be copied over with ease.

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nismo91

Posts: 1,223   +272
This gave me a trip down a memory lane. a friend once gave me his ipod nano 2nd gen when he upgraded and I installed rockbox on it. that was the days where blackberry, windows phone, symbian, android and ios were still fighting each others. this was the time where almost everyone on the bus were listening to mp3 players, not looking at their phones and scrolling.

my favorite mp3 player was the 2nd gen and 4th gen ipod shuffle. at first I couldn't imagine navigating, but it actually makes sense if your ipod library is neat. small size, enough capacity for short listening and the sound quality is quite good. unfortunately after so many years the battery simply just fails and restoring them with original parts is no longer viable for me.

looking back I think it's insane that we used to pay $250 for an ipod or maybe $150 for ipod nano 15 years ago and now for the same money we got a phone that can do it all with bigger screen, camera, network connectivity and much more.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,942   +3,800
TechSpot Elite
As an added bonus, the iPod no longer needs to connect with iTunes – it simply mounts as an external storage drive, so files can be copied over with ease.
Bonus? Still requiring such a restrictive program would be a dealbreaker for me. It was the main reason why I never wanted one.
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,150   +2,316
Bonus? Still requiring such a restrictive program would be a dealbreaker for me. It was the main reason why I never wanted one.

Tell me about it.

I tried every single player on those days, just so I didnt had to use that stupid program.

I ended with an iPod because someone gave it to me for free and I promptly flashed it so I wasnt forced to use itunes.

Hell, thanks to my job and the countless drones that needed help with it, I had to force myself to use and learn itunes and that is the one of the main reasons why I still refuse to buy an iphone.
 
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Bullwinkle M

Posts: 709   +601
I'll stick with my free phone with bluetooth 5.0 and an offline music collection

Even the earphone jack has better sound quality than an ipod

Even comes with expandable memory card slot

Phone companies give these things away for free you know

You do know that don't you?

Hello?
Hello?

Is this thing on?
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,270   +1,153
LOL, I still use my iPods for music in my cars. With our cr@p mobile coverage, I got sick of streaming music cr@pping out. However, they do have issues and the batteries are pretty much stuffed. I've copied all my music over to my S21 and will just use that once the iPods die.