Christmas is coming and you need some gift ideas. And you have an iPod (and so do your friends). So what better thing to get them than something to go with their slice of Apple goodness? Courtesy of our friends at MacFormat, here's the ultimate guide to iPod-related gifts.
As ever with such guides, there's a splash of the expensive, but we've added in a load of stocking fillers so you won't necessarily have to break the bank...
iSkin Cerulean TX + RX
The Cerulean TX + RX consists of a little Bluetooth transmitter (the TX bit) that plugs into the dock connector on the base of your iPod. This transmits your iPod's music to the RX receiver, which can be connected to the audio input on a set of speakers, turning your iPod into a wireless music system that you can carry around the house with you. It can also be used to stream music from your Mac to your speakers, too. Read our full review.
Altec Lansing inMotion iM600
We never travel anywhere without packing our trusty old inMotion 3 speakers, and the latest version is just as attractive. The iM600 folds flat for easy packing, but produces excellent sound quality and more volume than you might expect from such a slim set of speakers. There's an FM radio and alarm clock built in, along with a rechargeable battery and remote.
Nike + iPod Sport Kit
The Nike + iPod Sport Kit is a must-have gift for anyone who's serious about their running. It consists of a tiny little sensor that you slip into a special compartment in the sole of Nike's Air Zoom trainers, along with a receiver that connects to the dock on the base of the iPod. The sensor measures your pace and distance while you're running, and transmits the data to your iPod so that you can monitor your progress during training sessions.
We see dozens of iPod cases every month, but we can't help getting a bit touchy-feely with Gear4's plush LeatherJacket. Available for all iPod models, as well as the iPhone, the LeatherJacket folds open to reveal your iPod cradled in a silky smooth leather interior that includes a special plastic cover to protect the screen. It's also very reasonably priced, given the quality of the materials used to construct the case.
The Turbo.264 from Elgato is really handy if you watch a lot of video on your iPod or iPhone. Video files that you download onto your iPod first need to be converted into the compressed H.264 video format. This can take a long time – even with a powerful Mac – so the Turbo.264 includes a special video processor that dramatically speeds up the conversion process and leaves your Mac's main processor free so that you can carry on doing other things at the same time. Read our full review.
Harman Kardon Go+Play
Sometimes you need a bigger sound than you'll get from portable speakers, and Harman Kardon's Go+Play speakers produce the mightiest sound we've ever heard from a set of iPod speakers. This stylish silver and black unit packs two 'tweeters' and two 'woofers' to produce a roof-rattling 120W of sound. Even more importantly, the sound quality is great – clear and sharp with plenty of bass for party time.
Gear4 CarDock FM Follow Me
It's a little pricey but Gear4's CarDock is one of the best in-car FM transmitters we've seen so far. As you travel from one area to another, the CarDock can automatically scan for the five clearest radio frequencies in that area and store them as presets so you can always play your iPod music through the car radio. If your radio uses RDS (radio data system) it can also display track information on the screen.
The earbuds that Apple sells with the iPod may be instantly recognisable but their audio quality leaves room for improvement. Apple has acknowledged that by coming up with its own 'upgrade' earphones, but we're loyal Sennheiser fans and we like its CX300 earphones. They're comfortable, good at blocking out background noise, and produce a nice sound, with plenty of bass. Read our full review.
Belkin Sports Armband Plus
There are quite a few sports armbands available for the iPod – including Apple's own little velcro number. However, we like Belkin's latest model, the Sports Armband Plus. This can be worn on your arm when you're out running or pumping iron at the gym, but it also includes a little clip that lets you attach it to your belt like an ordinary iPod case at all other times.
The points of this star-shaped device are actually audio connectors, which allow you to connect one iPod to five sets of earphones so you can listen to your music with your friends. You can also connect two iPods together and use the volume controls on the iPods to mix songs. Read our full review.
Proporta Echo Case
The Echo case is a practical protective case with a twist. The super-shiny case protects the iPod screen when it's in use, but when the screen backlight is off the screen cover turns into a mirror. The case is only available for the iPod nano, but Proporta also sells Echo screen overlays for larger iPods.
iTunes Music Card
There's a lot more on the iTunes Store than just music these days. An iTunes Music Card is a great gift that will let your friends download to their heart's content. If you're looking for a quick last-minute present you can also order gift cards through the iTunes Store and print them yourself, or email them to someone for instant delivery.
Apple iPod Radio Remote
It's getting a bit old, but we still like our little iPod Radio Remote, and it still works with all iPod models apart from the iPod touch. The Radio Remote is a tiny device – smaller than an iPod shuffle – that has a built-in FM radio tuner. Just plug it into the iPod's dock connector and a new Radio option appears on the iPod's menu screen. It also acts as a remote control for the iPod and includes a spare set of earphones.
Belkin Screen Overlays 3-Pack
The iPod's Achilles' heel has always been the screen, seemingly vulnerable to scratches if you so much as sneeze near it. It's also surprising how many so-called 'protective' cases don't provide a cover for the screen. So we recommend these screen overlays to protect the screen from getting scratched. There are a number of companies that make these overlays, but Belkin's three-pack is good value.
First published in MacFormat, Issue 202