The iPod 10 years later: A re-review

On 23 October 2011, the iPod turned 10 years old. Little did we know in 2001 that the new device that Steve Jobs introduced at a special Apple music event would turn out to be the most significant in the company’s history. But how would that first iPod measure up today?

Arstechnica’s Senior Apple Editor, Jacqui Chen, recently re-reviewed the iPod and had this to say:

The 1st Generation iPod - circa 2001

Form factor and navigation

The iPod was bulky in 2001 and it’s still bulky now but, aside from the obvious bulk in thickness, it still feels decent in the hand—the width of the device is almost the same as an iPhone 4!

The navigation is very true to iPod form. The click wheel – used to adjust volume and navigate playlists – was a new thing for Apple in 2001 and continued to work well for many years. Unfortunately, with the advent of fancy touchscreen music players built into our iPhones and Android devices, the concept seems old fashioned now.


The latest version of iTunes (as at 23 October 2011) can still connect to and interface with the original iPod – assuming you have the right cable. You need a special Firewire 800 to Firewire 400 cable to connect the iPod to a 27″ iMac because, and if you want to connect it to an even newer and more minimalist machine—such as the 11″ MacBook Air— it would nearly be impossible.

However, when you do plug in an original iPod to a modern version of iTunes, you can sync it just like you would a modern iPod, an iPhone, or iPad – in fact, the sync screen looks exactly the same.


The original iPod’s moving parts leaves it more vulnerable to disaster than many of its modern equivalents. While extremely difficult to destroy to the same level as a plastic Walkman cassette player for instance – its moving click wheel and “old fashioned” hard drive mean that it can face some unpleasant realities. These include gunked-up click wheels and failed hard drives.

But a halfway-careful owner can keep an original iPod alive forever. Pending any catastrophic drops it could easily last for another 10 years. Or until Apple ends iTunes support for it, whichever comes first.

Battery life and extras

Aside from the hard drive and click wheel, the battery is the next most likely thing to die over time -especially battery tech from 10 years ago. While the original iPod’s claimed 10-hour battery life was impressive by 2001 MP3 player standards, 10 hours could hardly be expected out of a 10-year-old battery. But the Artechnia team did manage to squeeze out a solid eight hours of music before it petered out.

Feature-wise, the original iPod can still sync your iCal calendar items and contacts from your computer—tethered, of course. Also Mac OS X Lion still recognizes the original iPod as a pocketable Firewire hard drive that mounts.

Click here for the full article and reviewer’s conclusion…

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