My Media Players
My silver iPod mini, perched on its iPod Hi-fi first party speaker dock. This thing rules.
Apple introduced the first gen iPod mini in 2004, and it was radically smaller than the previous iPod models, thanks to its use of Microdrives, hard drives in the format of a CF card. It was also the first iPod to come in colors.
I bought my iPod mini in 2020, and updgraded it with a 64GB CF card. The first gen minis can only go up to 128GB anyway, and 64GB is plenty for me anyway. I also replaced the battery.
The iPod mini is the easiest to modify for beginners, since it's super easy to disassemble and can use standard CF cards in place of the Microdrive. My mini isn't in the best physical condition, but that's okay for something I carry with me every day since it's likely to show signs of use over time anyway.
iPod Video (5th generation)
I don't have a photo of this one, but it's a standard black iPod Video, 30GB. This was my first iPod - I got it as a Christmas gift in 2005. My parents bought two of them, one for myself and one for my brother. Only one has survived, though the second one might be around somewhere. I replaced the battery in 2020 intending to flash mod it, but the original HDD is still in perfect shape, so I'm going to leave it because of its importance to me. That nostalgic feeling of the drive spinning is just too much to give up.
The 5th gen is regarded as one of the best iPods to mod, since it's easy to get inside and some people consider the sound quality to be the best of all iPods.
iPod classic (7th generation)
7th Generation iPod, 160GB,Space Gray, slim back
This is the last iPod classic, and the first iPod classic. The previous generations weren't officially called 'classic'. This is the very last model, with a 160GB hard drive and the space gray color, in a thin form factor. iPods used two different back thicknesses depending on the drives used inside.
I don't use this one much outside of the house, because I don't want to drop it and have the hard drive fail. It's already in rough shape, so I won't ruin it by trying to open it, but it's still something I'd rather not replace until I absolutely have to.
iPod (3rd generation)
15GB iPod 3, in the mess of cables it takes to charge and sync simultaneously.
These are so freaking weird but they're so pretty.
This is my favorite-looking iPod, and to use, honestly. Monochrome display forever, and it feels nicer than the many. They're pretty difficult to mod, and 15GB isn't enough for me. But I really like using this one.
The 3rd gen iPod will only charge over Firewire, though it can sync over USB. That leads me to the rather hilarious adapter chain on the left. My laptop has Thunderbolt 3, so I need Thunderbolt 3 to 2, Thunderbolt to Firewire 800, a Firewire 800 to 400 adapter, and then the Firewire to Apple Dock Connector cable.
Zune (original, 30gb)
BROWN. WITH NEON GREEN HIGHLIGHTS. WHAT. This is either peak mid-2000s grunge or a 70s throwback, but either way, I love it.
God, Microsoft, why. You almost had it. You almost had it!
I really wanted to like the Zune. This thing makes me mad, but if I explain it, it pisses off every Zune fanboy out of the woodwork. The first Zune is... a really mediocre media player, with shitty navigation (that circle is just a d-pad, not even a wheel) and a chunkier design compared to the competition. But hey, it's really pretty. I actually like the brown too. And that UI is just SO slick.
Using this with a modern computer is also super annoying. Windows 10 removed the codecs used to convert audio by the Zune software, so syncing just leads to a lot of errors unless you pre-convert all of your audio. Which I don't want to do, because I use it on iTunes as well. I just use a computer with Windows 8 to sync this thing instead. XP, Vista, 7, or 8 will work. Early Windows 10 also will, but it'll auto update you away from it.
I really want to like this thing, but it'so clear with how much better the 2nd gen Zune is, that this was purely rushed for the holiday season, and it shows.
Astell & Kern AK70
With a really lovely, third party leather case.
This is one of those Android-based Hi-Res audio players. I use it for FLAC files. It has 64GB of internal storage and an SD card slot.
I don't use it much anymore, since iPods feel far less fragile, but for the best audio quality at the price, and with a good design, it's pretty hard to beat.