8 Cool (and Useful) Mods for iPods and iTunes

Rev Up Your iPod with Rockbox

Compatible with: All iPods

142300-Rockbox2-large

Years in the making, open-source firmware Rockbox turns your iPod into a tweakable, customisable audio powerhouse for creating on-the-fly playlists, normalising track volume, and playing just about any audio file on the planet (including FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and unprotected WMA). It comes with a five-band equaliser, custom fonts and themes, a real-time clock, and tons of iPod-compatible games and applications. In addition, you can choose from a huge library of plug-ins, including everything from a battery benchmark to a chess game to a Matrix-style screen saver.

Before you install Rockbox, which can be a tricky operation, bear in mind that the program's cool new features come at a price: At least temporarily, you trade in the iPod's friendly, straightforward interface for one that's noticeably Linux-like in appearance and function. Navigating the Rockbox interface is a little awkward at first, and it doesn't recognise songs, videos, or audiobooks purchased from iTunes. Furthermore, the Rockbox support forums contain the occasional scary post declaring "Rockbox ruined my iPod!" In our tests, however, Rockbox proved to be a fun and easily reversible modification.

142300-Rockbox1-large

Start by grabbing the manual for your specific iPod model. We'll assume here that you have a fifth-generation iPod Video and a Windows PC. Download and unzip the latest stable build of the Rockbox Utility, connect your iPod (making sure that it's enabled for disk use), select its drive letter, and then run the Complete Installation from the Quick Start tab. Follow the prompts until you've selected and installed some themes, at which point the utility will appear to stop working. No worries: It's just Rockbox's way of telling you that the installation is (almost) complete.

Your final preliminary task is to install the Rockbox bootloader, by way of a small utility called iPodPatcher. After running it, your iPod should reboot itself and fire up the Rockbox firmware. If that doesn't happen, reboot it yourself by holding down the Menu and Select buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.

Rockbox doesn't permanently alter your iPod. To revert to the original firmware, simply reset the player and immediately flip the Hold switch. (You can reset most iPod models by holding down the Menu button and the center Select button for a few seconds.) After it boots back to the Apple firmware, slide the Hold switch back again and use the iPod as you normally would.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?