The Best $250 Gadget Ever Purchased

iPod cracked 01A friend of mine suggested I stop fighting with my old, cracked iPod Nano and replace it with something more current. Call me cheap, frugal, or nostalgic – I just can’t bring myself to part with my old friend (the iPod, that is).

Gadgets are exciting! Gadgets are fun. Gadgets make life easier. They are also expensive.

Americans spend thousands of dollars on new gadgets – sometimes all at once! A new TV, new phones for the family, and upgraded game systems sit under the Christmas tree each year. There is nothing wrong with that, of course – as long as it paid for (no debt).

Once in a while a gadget outlasts its warrantee and still retains its usefulness. This is the story of the best $250 gadget I ever purchased.

The Birth of my iPod Addiction

I pined for an iPod after Apple announced the Shuffle in January 2005. It was the first flash-based MP3 player that retailed for less than $200 – much more in my price range. However, we were in the middle of our get-out-of-debt journey so my wife suggested I wait a little longer.

My wife is a crafty one. She really wanted me to wait so she could buy one as a Christmas gift. And that’s what she did. December 25, 2005 I unwrapped my first Apple product under the tree.

However, the iPod Nano had been announced a few months earlier. It had more capacity and A SCREEN! So I held off opening the Shuffle, talked with my wife, and we agreed to use a cash gift from my in-laws to exchange for a Nano.

Wait, there’s more?

I was SO excited to make that exchange. With receipt in hand, I took the unopened Shuffle to Target and called upon an employee in Electronics. She opened the guarded case and asked which size and color I wanted.

“Wait, there’s more than one color”, I asked dumbfounded. Yep, Black or White.

Being a PC guy, I decided to avoid the Apple White and picked a Black 4 GB Nano. A few minutes later, and another $150 lighter, I walked out with my first MP3 player.

And so it begins…

My 1st Generation iPod Nano served me well for many years. I put it in a protector, wore it with an armband, and took it everywhere I went – literally. I once left the house with my iPod but forgot my wallet and driver’s license.

Then I discovered podcasting – and my iPod filled up with shows like Leo Laporte’s This Week In Tech, The Dave Ramsey Show, and few others I wish I could remember.

There are better products on the market, but I could be arrested for abusing my little Nano. Every day I would sync it to my PC to make room for more, newer podcasts. I would consume 4-8 hours of podcasts during long trips (I used to commute a LOT back then). The battery would need to be recharged every couple of hours, but I kept it around because it wasn’t broke – so why fix it?

Then, in late 2011, I received an email from Apple. They discovered an overheating issue with batteries in 1st Generation Nanos and issued a recall. Somehow my 6-year old gadget was still covered under warranty.

I could have ignored the recall, but what would happen if…

Return To Sender and Get A New One Free

Apple sent an envelope, I packaged ‘old Trusty and sent it away. Apple said there were a few of the first generation models still in stock (probably refurbished) but they would likely send a replacement Nano within a few weeks.

A package arrived a week later with a brand new 6th Generation iPod Nano! Not only was it new – with fresh battery – but it was half the size and DOUBLE the storage. It was sexy, sleek, had a touch screen instead of a scroll wheel, and could be clipped to just about any piece of clothing without the need of a case (which I would regret later – hence the crack).

What did it cost? Nothing.

The Best $250 Gadget Ever Purchased

Regular maintenance and good care always helps vehicles and lawn equipment last longer. The same can be said about electronics. I am certain my 1st Gen Nano would still be working – although the dying battery would be an issue. However, it would be stupid to refuse a free 6th Gen replacement.

The original $250 I spent has been the best purchase of an electronic gadget I can think of. My drawer full of Sony Walkmans is proof that I like to buy new things but won’t get rid of any before its time.

Take a look around your house. What gadget do you still have and won’t part with regardless of the latest model?

About Steve Stewart

8 Responses to “The Best $250 Gadget Ever Purchased”

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  1. I still have my ipod shuffle and it’s in the docking station in my VW rabbit because the rabbit has the old pin imput thingy and if I wanted to use my current iphone I’d have to buy a very expensive adapter. I’m really glad I kept that thing around but like your nano, it has no batter life so only works when my car is running. I’ll take it though. I pretty much covet all my ithings.

  2. Travis says:

    I loved my Ipod Nano too…I had a 6th generation like your replacement. Unfortunately, THAT model has a defect with the sleep/wake button. They replaced it once, then it was out of warranty and wouldn’t do it anymore. I found youtube instructions on how to fix it…but with my fat fingers I just destroyed the stupid thing. Ipod Shuffle for me…. 😊

  3. Syed says:

    Apple products can last a while if you take care of them. I had a shuffle that I used for about 7 years before I lost it. Those things were so small! But the industry really has the populace trained to think about upgrading every two years, some people every year. It’s amazing how much money you can save buying a product a year after it comes out as opposed to the day it comes out.

    • Oh man! That’s frustrating. I would probably purchase a refurbished Nano except I’m so cheap that I would use my iPhone 4S (the phone I kept when we upgraded to 5s in November).

      We’ve been upgrading our phones every 3 years because of battery issues. However, I have about 5 battery packs from all the conferences I’ve attended so that should extend the usefulness for another 12 months or so.

  4. Debt Hater says:

    I had the 4th generation iPod (the scroll wheel model with the black+white screen). That lasted me around 5 years until the the hard drive finally gave on it. It actually didn’t die completely, but I could hear it clicking. It would randomly skip songs and if you kept hitting back eventually it would play the correct song.

    I eventually upgraded to the 3rd generation iPod touch, and I’m still using that to this date. It’s at least 5 years old itself, and probably approaching 6 years old. Since it’s flash memory I’m hoping that it lasts another 5 years because it still does it’s job perfectly!

    • My daughter has an iPod Touch, maybe the same one as you. She has beaten it up quite a bit but still uses it – even though she has an iPhone 5C.

      Yes, the flash memory was the deal-maker for me. Coming from the old skool of vinyl, then CDs, I knew hard drives were not as durable as flash memory with no moving parts. It’s really quite amazing what flash memory has done for new gadgets – like the Egg Minder (search Amazon, it’s crazy and cool at the same time).

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