Classic iPod reborn as cheap open-source project


iPod alternative: Tangara portable music player
The chunky little Tangara is like your old iPod, except you can totally mess with it.
Photo: Cool Tech Zone

Tangara, a new portable music player that sports serious iPod Classic vibes, totally eclipsed its initial crowd-funding goal as of Monday. So the open-source iPod alternative could become a reality.

Complete with a touchwheel, the nostalgia-provoking player from startup Cool Tech Zone differs from Apple’s famous iPods in major ways. Mainly, its open hardware and open-source software make it easy to access, customize, repair and upgrade.

iPod alternative: Tangara portable music player from Cool Tech Zone

Tangara plays what you want to hear, however you want to hear it,” Cool Tech Zone said of the portable music player. Its advanced processor outputs high-quality audio in a wide variety of formats through a 3.5mm headphone jack or via Bluetooth 4.2.

But despite some advanced features, part of the somewhat chunky player’s old-school iPod look comes from its 1.8-inch TFT screen with 160 x 128 resolution and 18-bit color plus a capacitive touchwheel.

And Cool Tech Zone purpose-built the Tangara iPod alternative music player to make it easy to open up and play around with. And it runs on open-source software you can mess with, too.

So the company encourages DIYers to go to town on Tangara inside and out. It lists plenty of possibilities at the link below. They include experimenting via firmware tweaks on alternative user-interface patterns and adding different input jacks or even a whole new enclosure.

And how far has Tangara come toward release? The portable music player raised 1,809% of its funding goal of $10,000 as of Monday on Crowd Supply, reaching $180,998. It did so through $249 increments. For that price, backers get the player with internal battery and enclosure (SD card and USB Type-C cable sold separately).

Watch Cool Tech Zone’s Tangara video:

Check out Tangara’s main features

Miss iPod Classic? Cool Tech Zone described Tangara’s features this way:

  • ESP32 microcontroller with dual-core 240MHz Xtensa LX6 processor, 520KiB SRAM, 8MiB SPIRAM, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support.
  • SAMD21E co-processor for power management and USB-C connectivity, providing hassle-free flashing and debugging.
  • Cirrus Logic WM8523 DAC provides high quality audio output, with a TI INA1620 amplifier for clean gain and plenty of output power.
  • 20+ hours of active listening time with a 2200-mAh LiPo battery. Incredible standby time (>1 year) means no loss of charge when you’re not listening.
  • Capacitive touchwheel and physical buttons make the device a joy to use.
  • Great Lua scripting support, combined with the open source, open hardware nature of the device, makes it a joy to make your device yours.

So do you want to nab this portable music player? We’re tempted. The company said shipping kicks off in September 2024. The crowdfunding campaign ends March 14 at 4:59 PT.

Price: $249

Where to preorder: Crowd Supply



Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.