iPod Classic full review

Last updated in 2009, the iPod classic hasn't had much attention from Apple in recent years, but it hasn't been forgotten completely. After all, for serious music lovers, the iPod classic is a small and relatively inexpensive way to carry around your entire music collection, even if consists of a whopping 40,000 songs.

It can't run any apps, though, and it has no touchscreen, so in the current market it definitely feels outdated. Is the iPod classic right for you? We help you decide in our iPod classic review.

iPod classic: big storage

The main selling point of the iPod classic is its capacity. At 160GB, it's got more than double the capacity of the closest iPod model: the 64GB iPod touch.

Apple says you can fit up to 40,000 songs, squeeze in 200 hours of video, 25,000 photos, or a combination of all of those into the iPod classic.  However, those figures assume that each of your songs is around four minutes long, and that they are in the 128-kbps format.

At present, music you download from the iTunes Store is 256kbps, so they're double the size. Even so, you'll still be able to store 20,000 songs, or 80,000 minutes of music on your iPod classic. That's almost eight straight weeks worth of music.

iPod classic: small display

It's great that you can fit so much video and thousands of photos onto the iPod classic, but don't expect to get a great viewing experience directly from the device. It's display is just 2.5in diagonally. It is bright and crisp, though.

You can connect your iPod classic to a television using an Apple Composite AV Cable, though, which means you can play your videos and view your photos from your iPod on your TV. However, it will set you back £30.

iPod classic: navigation

One of the reasons for the smaller display is because the iPod classic uses Apple's Click Wheel for navigation, rather than the touchscreen that iPod touch, iPod nano, iPhone and iPad users are used to. This can make getting around the iPod classic a little clunkier than with other iPods, but we've always felt that the Click Wheel is sufficient enough to enable you to quickly navigate through the device.

Plus, the Click Wheel on the iPod classic is pretty large, so it's easy to use with one hand.

iPod classic: features

So, what can the iPod classic actually do?

Well, essentially, it lets you store your music, videos, photos and podcasts for listening, watching or viewing while out and about, but that's just the basics.

The iPod classic also has the Genius Mixes feature, which aims to help you find songs that go well together and put them all into one playlist. You'll need to turn Genius on in iTunes on your computer before you can use the feature on your iPod classic, though. Also, it comes up with some pretty random results sometimes.

You can sync music playlists from your Mac or PC to your iPod classic too. You can't build them directly from the device, which can be frustrating if you fancy making a new mix while you're out.

Cover Flow presents you with a way to browse the cover art you've got on your iPod and choose what you want to listen to from there. It looks rather nice, but it's not particularly practical if you've got thousands of albums in your library.

Alternatively, you can browse lists of artists, albums, compilations, songs, genres or composers to find what you're looking for.

If you've got something specific in mind, you can use the search feature, but be warned, with no touchscreen or keyboard, you'll need to use the Click Wheel to scroll through and pick each letter individually. Thankfully, each time you add a letter to the word, Apple whittles down the list to present you with matches as you go along.

As for videos, you can browse movies, iTunes rentals, TV shows, music videos and video playlists, which you can compile on your computer and sync to the iPod classic.

When it comes to photos, the iPod classic can create an automatic slideshow of the images you've got stored on it, complete with music. You can use the settings menu to choose the time per slide, the music you'd prefer, and other preferences.

In the extras menu, you'll find a clock, calendars, contacts, alarms, notes and a stop watch, and even three games to play if you're feeling bored. Don't expect anything amazing though. Compared to apps you can get for the iPod touch these days, the outdated iPod quiz, Klondie and Vortex games are pretty lame.

Apple used to offer additional games through the iTunes Store, like it does with apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch now. They were discontinued in 2011, though, so the three defaults are the only games you'll get.

iPod classic: design

The iPod classic is available with a black or silver front, with a shiny silver back. It's easily scratched and there are few cases about, though.

Above: Our iPod has taken a bit of a beating in the few years we've had it, so it now has marks like this around the edges.

Overall, it has an appealing design, and is not far off the size of Apple's iPhone 4/4S, but it is the heaviest out of all of the iPod models available, at 140 grams.

iPod classic: battery

The battery life of the iPod classic is reasonably impressive, with up to 36 hours of audio playback according to Apple. We've always felt that the battery life of the iPod classic is sufficient for our needs.

To charge the iPod classic, you'll need to plug it into the computer using the 30-pin to USB cable provided, or purchase a power adapter. It takes about four hours to reach full charge.

iPod classic: how much does it cost?

The iPod classic will set you back £199. That's the same price as the 16GB iPod touch, so you get ten times the amount of storage. Of course, you don't get the touchscreen, or the apps, but if it's space you're after, it's worth considering whether you really need those additional features.

iPod classic: is it for you?

When it comes down to it, the iPod classic really is just for people looking for an iPod with tons of space.

If it's apps you're after, or the ability to watch videos on a bigger screen, you'll be better off with the iPod touch, which has a 4in touchscreen like the iPhone 5's. The 32GB and 64GB models also have front and rear facing cameras, and are available in a variety of colours.

For portability, a touchscreen, colour options, Bluetooth and pedometer features, the iPod nano is a great option. It only has 16GB of capacity, though, and costs £129.

There's also the iPod shuffle, but that goes to the other extreme of capacity, with just 2GB available. It is only £40, though.

iPod Buying advice

Overall, if you're looking for an iPod that can store thousands of songs and aren't bothered about any fancy features, then the iPod classic is well worth considering. If you've already got an iPhone but keep finding yourself running out of space to store music thanks to your apps and photos, you might benefit from having an iPod classic too.

While four years old, the iPod classic still does its job well and is top quality. After all, if Apple didn't think that there was a market for the iPod classic, then it probably would have stopped selling it altogether.


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