There's something to be said for gifting a loved one with the stalwart iPod. Ranging from the no-frills iPod shuffle to the hardy iPod classic to the app-capable iPod touch, here's what you should consider before buying an iPod.
How will I use it?
It is possible to get a different iPod for any niche of your life. The first thing to consider is whether or not you want the ability to use apps -- essentially, most of the advantages of the iPhone without the phone part (or other extras such as Siri and a better camera.) If so, the iPod touch is automatically your choice.
If you're not-so-keen on the apps, then you have three other lines to choose from -- the $US49 iPod shuffle, the iPod nano that starts at $129 and the $249 iPod classic. Here's a description of each of these models and how they can be used.
This is the most basic of the music players, and as such, also has the least capacity. The iPod shuffle lacks any sort of screen, which means while you can have playlists on there, some might consider it to be a hassle to navigate. The shuffle has 2GB of space which will hold several hundred songs and a 15-hour battery life. It's ideal for when you want a hardy little player and don't want to tote your entire library around. Think of this as an introductory music player for a child or an excellent workout companion. If you're wanting a slimmed down iPod for your car, this also is a cheap way to go.
The current iPod nano is a marriage of the form factor of an iPod shuffle and the touchscreen interface of the iPod touch. These are $129 for 8 GB and $149 for 16 GB. If you're going for a nano, pay the extra $20 and spring for the 16 GB. There's a few more features in here that aren't found on the other iPods, like a built-in FM radio and different clock faces. You also can buy a band and turn the nano into a watch. The nano is integrated with Nike +, so if you're wanting to use that feature for a workout, this is one of the models to consider. This is a good player for someone wanting a more capacity, but a small footprint.
The granddaddy of iPods is still around and has 160 GB ready for your music for $249. This is the iPod you want if you have a large music library and want to take it all with you. While it can play video, and does a fairly good job at it, the primary goal of this iPod is to handle large chunks of music. It's the only iPod still using a traditional hard drive. All the others are Flash memory. It's also the only member of the iPod family which still uses a click wheel.
Starting at $199 for 8 GB, in addition to apps, the iPod touch is the iPod you want if you plan to stuff it with a lot of video. It's worth paying the extra $100 for the leap from 8 GB to 32 GB. Those wanting even more capacity can do 64 GB for $399, but I find 32 GB to be the sweet spot between price and capacity here.
Should I buy used? What about refurbished?
Apple has a number of refurbished units from its more recent lines available, usually the current and the previous generation iPods. This could net a savings from anywhere between $20 to $120 depending on the type and model you choose. All of the refurbished units are certified and include a year of AppleCare with the option to extend it, just like with a new iPod.
Don't discount older iPods. There's still a lot of life left in older music players, even if the batteries have gone sour. My 5th generation iPod nano -- the one with the video camera -- now has a permanent home in my car where it's hooked up to the stereo system. I still see the fatboy nanos -- 3rd generation -- still in use. If you prefer the form factor of an older iPod, hit up eBay and see if you can score a good deal.