DIY Junk


I thought this was mildly-interesting enough to write about. I bought a third-party-refurbished fifth-generation iPod Nano from They’re the last Nano with real buttons, which is a lot better for using while driving or at night. Anyway. It got here, and it’s pretty curious. The company that refurbished it seems to have dropped it in a plastic case which is pretty close to the original metal one. However, the interface is unusably slow. It just won’t scroll, or anything. My first thought was that it was a fake Chinese iPod. However, it plays Apple Store DRM’ed files, it takes Apple software updates, and it talks fine to iTunes. If it’s a fake, it’s really good on the iTunes integration front!


So, I wondered why it was so junky. These things are so simple that there isn’t much to break. There’s a Samsung ARM processor, a Cirrus audio chip, an Apple-branded power manager, and most of the rest of the space is occupied by a single chunk of Toshiba memory. Was the memory replaced with something crappier when it was refurbished?

One way or another, the only way to tell is to pull the thing apart. But then I’d be out eighty bucks. So I benchmarked it instead. Here’s what the Woot Refurb iPod got:

Okay then. There are two more 5G Nanos in the house — I have one, which I use with my headphone amp, and R. Monkeys has another. So I tested them both. Here’s mine:


They’re similar in some ways, but check out how much slower the refurb’s reads are. Of particular interest are those 4k random reads. Little random reads are what make any computer feel snappy, and the Woot iPod’s 4k random reads are majorly off the OEM Apple one. Let’s see the same category on R. Monkeys’ iPod:


It’s not quite as fast as mine, but it’s close — and way ahead of the Woot iPod. It seems as if the Woot iPod’s memory is just too slow to keep up with system functions.

I wish I had the $80 to pull it apart, though.