Tech Talk

Apple has a massive 92 per cent market share for hard drive-based music players. These little guys have one major weakness though: their battery. Want to know how to maximize your iPod’s playtime between charges, keep it healthy and what to do if the unthinkable happens? Well then, read on!

The beat goes on

Tuning off your backlight is the easiest way to save your battery. If you can live without the equalizer, you’ll add a couple hours of playback. Also, try not to change the song queue too often. Every time you do so the iPod has to access its hard drive and refill its buffer. You can also save a little power by turning your volume down.

Use smaller music files. The larger the files, the harder your iPod has to work to play them. You can do this by using compressed file formats such as MP3 or AAC instead of Apple Lossless, WAV or AIFF. You can also keep your files small by using lower bitrates. You can think of bitrates as the quality rating of a music file: the higher the bitrate the higher the quality. For MP3s, most people can’t tell the difference between 128 Kb/s and the original CD. If you think you have a sensitive ear, 192 Kb/s should be more than enough.

Keeping those electrons flowing

The Lithium ion battery that the iPod uses has no ‘memory effect’ so you don’t need to fully discharge it before charging. This also means that you should fully charge your iPod as often as possible. Normally, you should make sure your iPod doesn’t run out of battery power. If your battery is almost depleted, turn off your iPod and charge it as soon as you can. Keep in mind though that the iPod’s battery indicator is just an approximation and can be inaccurate.

Make sure you don’t leave your iPod in the car on a warm summer day. In the winter try to keep it close to you body so it doesn’t get too cold. Make sure to charge your iPod at least once every 14 days. Once every 30 charges or so, it is a good idea to let your battery completely discharge to calibrate the battery, but I don’t really think there is anyone in the world that actually remembers to do this. If storing your iPod for days or weeks it’s best to keep it plugged in. If you’re storing your iPod for months, keep it unplugged and somewhere cool. Lithium ion batteries age quickest with a full charge in hot places.

Recovering from tragedy

The iPod’s battery is designed to last approximately 500 full charge/discharge cycles. Eventually it will lose its ability to store a significant charge and you’ll have to replace the battery. If your iPod’s battery retains less than 50 per cent of its advertised charge, Apple will replace it if it’s still under its one-year warranty. You’ll still have to pay for shipping it to them if it’s been more than 6 months since you bought your iPod. Apple also offers a replacement service that’ll cost you $89 (originally $150) if your warranty has expired. Not so coincidentally, Apple also offers a one-year warranty extension for $89.

Keep in mind that if you bought your iPod with a credit card you might have an automatic warranty extension. For example, VISA automatically doubles your warranty by up to 1 year through third party insurers. Just make sure to keep all your receipts and bills if you plan to make a claim.

Apple’s battery shenanigans have already forced them to settle a class action lawsuit with 2 million users. One of Apple’s direct competitors offers a replacement lithium ion battery for its player for $15. Hey Apple, is this part of your ‘think different’ campaign? Because I thought you might want to know, extortion isn’t very original.

Good thing a crop of third-party replacement batteries have appeared. Google ‘iPod battery replacement’ and you’ll find plenty of online stores offering replacement batteries that you can install yourself, or have them do it for you. Third-party replacement batteries go for around $40. Most of these replacement batteries will actually give you a longer playback time than Apple’s original.

Link O’ the Week:
iPod Battery FAQ
More info about your iPod’s battery.

Webcomic O’ the Week:
A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible by David Hellman and Dale Beran
Someone needs to explain this to me; I don’t get it…at all.

Free Application O’ the Week:
Gmail Notifier
Check your Gmail inbox automatically.


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