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Apple iPod Classic 160GB review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £189
inc VAT

It has plenty of storage and excellent battery life, but niggling audio quality issues prevent it getting an unqualified recommendation.

Other manufacturers appear to have given up on hard disk-based MP3 players, but not Apple. The latest iPod Classic has a huge 160GB capacity, yet it’s no thicker than three £1 coins thanks to its single-platter 1.8in hard disk.

You might think the iPod Classic would have a shorter battery life than flash-based players, but it has one of the best battery lives around we’ve seen. It lasted an astonishing 43 hours and 14 minutes playing music and nearly nine hours when playing video.

Like other iPods, the Classic can play only MPEG4 and H.264 video files. Both looked bright and sharp on the 2?in screen. There are plenty of free and low-cost video-encoding applications with pre-programmed settings tailored for the Classic. You’ll want to use them, too, as iTunes can be laboriously slow at re-encoding incompatible videos.

This model is almost identical to the previous 120GB Classic. Disappointingly, it doesn’t have an FM radio like the latest Nano.

Previous hard disk-based iPods have suffered from distortion, especially at the high end when boosting bass using the equaliser. Sadly, this Classic suffers from the same problem, albeit to a lesser extent than previous models. The problem is most clearly apparent on heavily compressed AAC files.

For the best possible audio quality you’ll need to invest in a quality set of earphones. The included set sound muddy and weak and will need to be replaced with a better-sounding set as soon as possible. Like all other current iPods, with the exception of the screen-less Shuffle, the Classic can recommend tracks in your music library that would go well with the track you’re listening to. This feature, called Genius, depends on iTunes on your computer analysing your music library first, but is useful.

The 160GB iPod Classic has excellent battery life and is the only choice if you want to carry a huge music library around with you. It’s disappointing that Apple hasn’t completely fixed the audio distortion issues, but if you can live with less than perfect audio quality then the iPod Classic is a good player.


Price £189
Rating *****
Headphone Rating **


Capacity 160.00GB
Formatted capacity 149.00GB
Interface USB
Storage medium 1.8in hard disk
Battery and charge options Li-ion, USB
Size 62x10x103mm
Weight 136g


Device has screen? Yes
Viewable size 2.5 in
Native resolution 320×240
Memory card support none
FM Radio no
Audio record options line-in
Video record options none
Supplied with headphones, USB adapter, dock adapter

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 43h 14m
Tested battery life (Video playback) 8h 49m
500MB transfer time 29s
Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback No
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback Yes
Audio OGG playback No
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback Yes
Image BMP support Yes
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback No
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video WMV playback No
Video MPEG-1 playback No
Video MPEG-2 playback No
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback No
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support No
Video H.264 support Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support No
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support Yes
Download compatibility iTunes

Buying Information

Price per MB 0.1p
Warranty one year RTB or customer carry in

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