A Philosopher's Blog

Keeping Dead iPods in Use

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on February 29, 2008

iPods and many other MP3 players have built in batteries. Like all batteries, these batteries will eventually die. iPods and some other players are notoriously bad in regards to user access. For example, while it is possible to open an iPod mini, doing so would be quite a challenge to most people. Some of the players do allow easy user access to the built in battery and it is thus possible to replace it after the original battery fails. For example, I have a nifty little Sandisk player that I can easily take apart and replace the battery. Of course, there is still the problem of getting the right battery when your’s finally dies. And, of course, there is the matter of cost. If the battery costs enough, then it would make more sense to buy a newer and better player than to spend money replacing the battery.

When an MP3 player’s internal battery dies and it is not something you want to (or can) replace, it is tempting to just throw the player away. This would be a waste in two ways. First, it would add to the waste being dumped into landfills. Second, you’d be throwing away a useful piece of equipment.

In terms of the usefulness, even with a dead battery an MP3 player is still a functioning piece of hardware-provided it can get power. First, most MP3 players can be used as drives-when plugged in to a PC you can drag and drop files to and from them. Thus, a battery dead player can be revived as a portable storage device. Since they are typically designed to be used on the go, they tend to be sturdier than the typical storage device, thus making them quite appealing in this role. Second, you can buy an adapter (wall socket or car) that will let you power the player. While this obviously is not an option for being fully mobile (unless you have a really long extension cord) it is an excellent way to provide music in your vehicle or in a room. For example, I have a 7 year old Creative Nomad player plugged into a sound system. It is not cutting edge, but it sounds just fine-and is far cheaper than setting up one of those expensive audio streaming devices. As another example, I have an original iPod mini that I use in my truck. I have a $15 adapter that powers it just fine. I can also use it to transport files. So, I can have my tunes and feel smugly righteous as I drive to and from work and races.

If you don’t want to re-use your old MP3 player, at least try to donate it to someone. It is better to have it stay in use than to have it become mere waste.


3 Responses

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  1. netsolns said, on February 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    With millions of iPods out there, it is surprising that no one has taken up this issue, let alone provided solutions for it. And it is not like iPods have throwaway prices. They cost plenty. If you remember when Swatch had come out in early 80’s


    It was a completely sealed watch with a user replaceable battery. Use a coin to open the battery compartment and replace the battery. I regard this omission from the iPod to be a serious blunder from a outfit that prides itself so much on its designs.

  2. mlabossi said, on February 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    The Swatch design is brilliant.

    I often suspect that watch makers intentionally make it difficult to change watch batteries in the hopes that people will just buy a new one. I’ve found that even if you are very carefuly and have the proper tools, most sports watches are never quite right after you replace the battery.

    I suspect that MP3 makers use the same sort of tactic as well. Of course, they might reply by saying that people will replace their player with a newer model before it dies or that the sealed design avoids various problems, and so on. But, that doesn’t really justify the battery design for the iPod.

    In a similar vein, the new Airbook also has a battery that the owner cannot replace. While this does make the Airbook lighter it means that if you buy an Airbook you must be prepared to either replace it or send it to Apple when the battery goes. This strikes me as a serious flaw in the laptop. Then again, perhaps the target market includes people who upgrade their laptops regularly and hence the battery will not be an issue for them.

  3. […] Accessories in electronic equipment. Like all batteries, these batteries will eventually die. via. Tags: Accessories, battery, Ipod, ipod […]

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