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How To Pick Which iPod To Give As A Gift

by Sean P. Aune | December 18, 2010December 18, 2010 8:00 am PDT

With the holiday shopping season coming down to the wire, it can be difficult to pick just the right gift for someone.  Pretty much since Apple first introduced the iPod way back in 2001, it has been a popular item to find under the Christmas tree for people of all ages and genders.  The question that we hear a lot from readers is, “which is the right iPod for so and so?”  Well, we’re here to help you pick just the right iPod gift to give someone this year with a short breakdown of how each model fits into someone’s life.  And, if you’re just looking for yourself, be sure to take a glance at our earlier guide on how to pick a 2010 iPod.

iPod Shuffle 2010

iPod Shuffle

The iPod Shuffle is definitely one of the most popular models for gift giving due to its low price.  At $49 for this 2 GB Apple product, its affordable on pretty much any budget, and the Apple brand name elevates it well beyond its price point in the eyes of many people.

However, don’t be lured in just by the price.  People do realize this is the “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to iPods, so if someone is tech savvy in the least, don’t expect them to do backflips just because you bought them an “iPod”.  It is also severely limited in its abilities as it lacks any sort of display.  It will “talk” to them and give them audio cues as to what is going on, but it can still be a bit of an annoyance as you can’t just look down and see what playlist you are on and so on.

This makes a good gift for younger people because it is probably the most rugged of the iPod line, but could also possibly be lost due to its small size.  Also, depending on your office gift giving policies, this one would also fit in well as a co-worker gift.  The Shuffle is only available in the 2 GB version, but comes in five different colors for $49.

iPod Nano 2010

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano went through a radical change this year, ditching the click wheel design that it had used since it was first released in 2005.  The new design uses a touch screen for navigation, but it is certainly no iPod Touch, and you shouldn’t assume it is.

If anything, the Nano this year could have been renamed to “iPod Gym” as it has a very definite tilt towards athletics. As Apple itself describes this model, “It’s portable and wearable, which makes it runnable, walkable, and workout-able.”  Questionable word usage aside, the intent of the Nano is pretty clear that this is a great device to take with you while working out.  If you’re so inclined, or the person you give it as a gift to is, there is also a Nike + Sport kit sold separately that will encourage you while you run and work as a pedometer to tick off your distance.  Also, with a built-in FM tuner, you technically will never run out of music, and have options if you get bored with what you pre-loaded onto it.

The nice thing about the Nano is that comes in six different colors and sells for $149 for the 8 GB model, and $179 for the 16 GB version.

iPod Touch 2010

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch is definitely when you are getting into the more serious gift giving situations.  Many people call this “an iPhone without the phone”, but with the introduction of the forward facing camera this year, and the ability to make video calls via FaceTime over Wi-Fi to other iPod Touch 4 and iPhone 4 owners … yeah, it kind of became a phone.  Yes, it is limited in who it can talk to, and the reliance on Wi-Fi is a bit of a pain, but with free Wi-Fi showing up so many places now, it won’t be that difficult to use.

With the ability to use the majority of the apps that you can with the iPhone 4 (geo-location apps can be used, but with some difficulty), this more of an all-purpose tool than just an iPod.  It can play games, watch videos, shoot videos and more.

The problem with this one is the pricing (see chart below) as this isn’t something you give to just any body.  It would make a good gift for a child in their late teens/gone to college, also spouses would be a good choice for this model, but that’s about where it ends.  Also, do to the shiny nature of the backside of the device, a case is almost a must for this, so either you are adding that on to your bill, or forcing the gift recipient to seek one out.

As for choosing what amount of memory to purchase.  What do you think the person will do with it?  Will they be watching videos?  Shooting pictures & video?  Using it only for music?  There are a lot of factors to consider, but the 8 GB is pretty much going to be useless on this device because the storage space is used for so many things.  The 32 GB should really be the minimum you consider, and if video is going to be involved at all, then you should just go for the 64 GB.

Three different sizes are available with the pricing as follows:

  • 8 GB – $229
  • 32 GB – $299
  • 64 GB – $399

iPod ClassiciPod Classic

Despite the fact that the iPod Classic didn’t receive an update this year, it is still a part of the line, but it fills only one real niche in the line: People with huge music collections.

While the iPod Classic is indeed capable of displaying photos and playing videos, the only real reason anyone needs this 160 GB model is if they have a huge music collection.  True, it could carry a 160 GB of video, but on this small screen there wouldn’t be much point to it.  So if you have someone on your gift list who is a total music fanatic … chances are they already have one of these and you might be better off getting them an iTunes gift card so they can buy even more music to fill it with.

The Classic comes in black or silver, and sells for $249.

In Summary

iPod Shuffle – Perfect for younger people and office gifts.

iPod Nano – Slightly older kids, people who work out a lot and a great choice for a “second iPod” for someone who already owns one.

iPod Touch – Older teens, people in college, spouses.

iPod Classic – Music fanatics of all ages.

Still not sure which model is best suited to the person you need a gift for?  Leave a comment below and our staff or readers are sure to have some advice for you.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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