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February 11, 2007

Beware of MP3 iPod

by Dan

A few days ago, a friend told me he’d purchased an older model iPod shuffle on eBay. When it arrived, it didn’t look right nor did it seem to work properly. He asked if I could document the differences so he could get his money back from PayPal.

At first glance, his iPod looked like a real first-generation shuffle. But on closer examination, I found a lot of differences.

1. The Apple logo was printed off-center.

  1. The printing on the back of the device is dark grey instead of light grey.

  2. The text “Designed by Apple in California” on the back was not printed perfectly horizontally and was missing a space between “Apple” and “in” so that it read “Applein”.

  3. The phrase “Serial No” on the back was misspelled as “Senal No”.

  4. Real first generation iPod shuffles have a 3-position switch on the back. The one I examined does have a 3 position switch, but only 2 positions are labeled. The labels should read “OFF” followed by a “Play in Order” symbol and a “Shuffle songs” symbol, but the one in question only has “off” and “on” as labels.

  5. When the iPod was in either of the “on” positions, a green bar should be visible, but was missing.

  6. It was missing the battery indicator light on the back.

  7. The cap did not line up exactly with the body of the iPod.

  8. The size of the unit (such as “512MB”) should be engraved on the USB connector, but was missing. It had only a sticker on the side.

  9. The color of the button ring on the front of the unit was white instead of light gray.

  10. The qualify of the printing on the unit was very poor and some of the letters and symbols are missing sections.

  11. The device has a blue light on the upper-left and red light on the upper-right of the front of the unit, which is not consistent with Apple’s iPod shuffle.

  12. It did not have a location for attaching a lanyard, which is included with Apple’s product.

  13. It rattled when shaken, which is a sign of poor quality workmanship.

While my friend’s “MP3 iPod” bore a superficial resemblance to an Apple iPod, it was clearly not made by Apple. It didn’t work with iTunes and even contained a link to Windows Media Player. Obviously not an Apple product.

After a bit of research, I now think someone is making a look-alike in an attempt to fool buyers into thinking they’re getting a real iPod. Some eBay sellers are mentioning this and calling it an “MP3 iPod,” but some are not. When shopping on eBay, I suppose we all have to be extra careful when looking for popular electronics.

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