This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2003-12-08 at 12:00 p.m.
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iPod Gift Offerings, Part 1

by Dan Frakes

The iPod is one cool gadget; in fact, it's the best-selling hard drive-based music player in the world, with millions of units sold since its release. So chances are either you or someone you know owns one. Use that to your advantage this holiday season and buy your favorite music lover (or yourself) something to accentuate their iPod.

To help you decide on such a gift, the following are some of my favorite iPod-related products. (Unless noted, I've actually tried every item.) I've divided them into some logical categories, and included approximate U.S. prices for each. You may be able to find items for less; sometimes significantly less. I've also noted whether each product is available for the older (FireWire port) iPods, the newer (dock connector) iPods, or both. One topic I don't cover here is headphones. For recommendations on those popular iPod accessories, see last year's "Music to Your Ears: 2002," and an update that will appear in TidBITS soon.

<http://db.tidbits.com/article/07012>

(While writing this article, I grew tired of writing variations of "your gift recipient," so I often use "you." You can pretend I'm talking about the rhetorical "you" - meaning the recipient of your gift - or you can 'fess up and admit that you want some of this stuff, too.)

The Basics from Apple -- Everyone can use an extra cable or dock. Here are some of the more useful Apple-branded gift options.

<http://store.apple.com/>

Apple also sells their own iPod case for $40; however, if you're in the market for a case, I recommend one of those discussed below instead.

Take Precautions: Cases and Bags -- The iPod is a stunning example of industrial design, but one bad drop or bump can turn it into a shiny (and expensive) paperweight. Here are some ways to keep it safe. I've tried most of the cases on the market, and could recommend a few others, but the ones below stand out. Because not everyone has the same needs when it comes to an iPod case, be sure to read the description of each to find out what type of protection it provides. All the cases listed here provide access to FireWire/dock ports, headphone/remote jacks, and hold buttons; I've noted when they don't provide access to the front controls.

Note that the hard cases like the Showcase and iPod Armor only come in one size, which means that smaller iPods will require a foam insert or similar spacer - which are included - to fit snugly. Also, hard cases can make it difficult to use some accessories that connect flush with the iPod's remote jack - such as Belkin's voice recording unit and the iTrip, mentioned below - when the case is on. But that's the trade-off with a hard shell case.

<http://www.radtech.us/podsleevz.html>

<http://sfbags.com/index2.htm?http:// www.sfbags.com/PRODUCTS/iPOD_INFO/i.htm>

<http://www.marware.com/iPodType.html>

<http://www.contourshowcase.com/>

<http://www.halfkeyboard.com/ipodarmor/>

<http://www.pelican.com/cases/4bo_1020.html>

<http://incasedesigns.com/DetailIPodBelt.php>

<http://www.headphone.com/layout.php?topicID=3& amp;subTopicID=29& amp;productID=0040010060>

<http://www.sfbags.com/PRODUCTS/IPGP_INFO/ index.html>

<http://www.burton.com/Burton/gear/products.asp? productID=731>

Dress for Success -- If your gift recipient would rather carry the iPod in a pocket, then perhaps a coat that hides the iPod while still providing access to its controls is the way to go. Or maybe your recipient would like a jacket that accommodates a bunch of gadgets. Either way, there are some good options available.

<http://www.burton.com/Burton/gear/products.asp? productID=729>
<http://www.burton.com/Burton/gear/products.asp? productID=728>
<http://www.burton.com/Burton/gear/products.asp? productID=730>

<http://www.scottevest.com/v3_product_info/ comparison_chart.shtml>

What about Software? Because the iPod is so versatile, a cottage industry in iPod-related software has emerged. You can find products that sync news headlines and email with your iPod, transfer files to and from it, and much more. Consider buying your iPod lover some helpful software. Because there are so many titles, I haven't listed any here. I instead recommend doing a search for "iPod" at VersionTracker, MacUpdate, or MacShareware.net via these links.

<http://www.versiontracker.com/php/search.php? plt%5B%5D=macosx&mode=basic& amp;action=search&str=ipod&x=0& amp;y=0>
<http://www.macupdate.com/search.php? keywords=ipod&os=macosx& amp;button.x=18&button.y=16>
<http://macshareware.net/modules.php? name=Downloads&d_op=search& amp;query=iPod>

Give the Gift of Music -- I'm always amazed at how infrequently music lovers receive music as gifts. Instead of another gadget, consider giving your favorite iPod owner some CDs or an iTunes Music Store Gift Certificate ($10-$200, both). The iTunes Music Store lets iPod users buy individual songs (99 cents) or entire albums (usually $10), download them to their Mac, and then transfer them to their iPod. By giving gift certificates to the Music Store, you don't have to worry that your recipients won't like the CDs you bought them, and they can use the credits whenever they want - all at once or a little at a time.

<http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/ WebObjects/AppleStore? productLearnMore=D2683LL/A>

An iTunes Music Store Gift Certificate could be good for encouraging someone to try an audio book now that Apple carries thousands of books from audio bookseller Audible. But if you know they're already fond of listening to recorded books while driving or commuting to work, consider a gift subscription to Audible, whose books are compatible with iTunes and the iPod.

<http://www.audible.com/>

But Wait, There's More! Stay tuned next week for the best in third-party iPod add-ons, car accessories, speakers, reading, and repair options!

PayBITS: If Dan's recommendations helped you find the perfect iPod
gift, say thanks with a couple of bucks via Amazon or PayPal.
<http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-page /P3UQQEWHYLQXIT/>
<https://www.paypal.com/xclick/ business=dan%40frakes.org>
Read more about PayBITS: <http://www.tidbits.com/paybits/>