New iPods – Buy now or wait?

Q: I’m thinking of asking for the iPod classic this holiday season. My iPod video broke and is out of warranty. I was wondering if you think it would be a good idea to wait until next year before buying in case they come with a better version? Or do you think it’d be better to just buy now?

– Anna

A: This is a question that comes up very frequently in our iLounge Discussion Forums, and the usual answer is that if you’re waiting for the next release of a product, then you’ll always be waiting, because there’s always going to be something better coming along eventually.

That having been said, however, the reality is that the iPod classic was only released this past September.

Although Apple does not normally provide any kind of road map for product releases, past iPod models and their release dates provide enough insight that it’s reasonably safe to assume that we’re not going to see any significant updates to the iPod classic line before next fall at the very soonest.

For example, the fifth-generation iPod was released in October, 2005, in a 30GB and 60GB capacity. September 2006 brought a minor upgrade to this line in the form of an 80GB model, and some minor improvements to battery life and screen brightness. It was not until just this past September that a major update occurred in the form of the iPod classic (or the sixth-generation iPod, if you prefer).

So while the decision is ultimately up to each end user, this is probably a very safe time to purchase an iPod classic, since it has been out for long enough that most of the problems have been worked out in recent firmware updates, yet not so long that a new device is right around the corner.

One word of caution, however:  If you used the TV output features of your fifth-generation iPod and had invested in accessories already for this purpose, you will very likely find that most of these will not be compatible with the iPod classic. With the release of the 2007 iPod models, Apple has limited the video output to the Dock Connector only (rather than the headphone port) and only for accessories that include a specific Apple authentication chip. Therefore, if you plan to purchase an iPod classic and use the TV output capabilities, you will also need to factor in the cost of a compatible TV output cable such as the Apple Composite AV Cable (iLounge rating: C).