Requiem for a dying iPod?

I’ve had three iPod-like devices since 2001, four if you count my iPhone. The first one was the classic iPod 5GB with the mechanical clickwheel (that was a happy Christmas day). The FireWire port famously broke on it, and I picked up a 10GB model in time for my cross-country drive. I bought a 30GB fifth-generation model in late 2006 when the 10GB model stopped taking a battery charge and developed hard disk problems. The iPhone followed in late 2007 (I wasn’t an early adopter, but I did buy before the 3G model came out).

And now? Well, last night I tried to sync the 30GB iPod about four times. The first time it copied 200 songs, then I couldn’t eject it from the OS and had to reboot and grab it and go. And none of the new songs made it over. The second time it synced successfully but the songs still weren’t there. I rebuilt the smart playlist that had the songs in them, resynced, and this time the sync hung iTunes. Finally I restarted both the iPod and the machine, finished syncing–and again the iPod refused to eject because iTunes claimed that it had files that were open from another application. When I finally got it free, the songs still weren’t there.

Based on what I hear on the Apple support boards, I probably have a bad hard disk in the little bugger, which is consistent with the “clunking” sounds I occasionally hear while it’s trying to sync. So, it’s gone. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month, but it’s on its last legs, because replacing the hard drive is not a cost effective move.

So the question is, what do I do next? I can only get a fraction of my 475GB music library on it, but that’s more than I could get on the iPhone, so going to the iPhone alone isn’t an appealing option. And paying $399 for a 32GB iPod Touch isn’t going to happen right now, either, as much as I like the form factor. (I’m a big fan of the scroll wheel but would go to the Touch in a second if price weren’t a factor.)  I don’t know if I can swing $249 for the 120GB “classic” model either, but it’s the only model that has a fraction of the capacity I’m looking for. We’ll see what happens.

Meantime, anyone have a good project that involves rebuilding a 5th generation iPod with a bad hard drive?

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