The ultimate iPod Christmas gift guide

Sennheiser CX300
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.

Stocking fillers

Belkin RockStar
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


Cliff Joseph is a former Editor of MacUser magazine, and a freelance technology writer with 30 year’s experience in the industry (and old enough to remember when Apple was close to going bust…).

His first job involved using Macs for magazine sub-editing and typesetting, which led to the realisation that these computer-thingies might actually turn out to be useful after all. After a few years specialising in the Mac side of the market, he went freelance and embraced the wide world of digital technology, including Windows PCs, digital audio and hi-fi, and networking. Somewhere along the line he also developed a bit of a gaming habit and has stubbornly waved the flag for Mac gaming for far too many years.