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Correct Way to Charge an iPod? 107

JAHA wonders: "I've seen two schools of thought regarding the proper method for charging an ipod so as to maximize the lifetime of the battery: let the iPod completely drain before re-charging; or keep the iPod completely charged as often as possible (i.e. leave it charging while you listen to it if you can). There doesn't seem to be any official word from Apple on their website, so I was hoping the smart people here could clear it up for me." For those looking for a definitive resource on the proper care and feeding of your iPod batteries, try this site.
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Correct Way to Charge an iPod?

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  • keep it topped up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bobba22 ( 566693 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @05:42PM (#7839271) Journal
    I have experienced problems with my iPod when I let it run down completely, it drops into 'zombie' mode and cannot be woken without unplugging the battery. This is a pain in the arse when I'm going to be away from my computer for a long time. The iPod is one of the first of the first generation and can now only hold charge for around an hour. I don't think that it'll make much difference how you do the charge/discharge dance, you just have to accept the fate that the battery dies. What we really want is sony to release the batteries to the general public (UK) so we can refit them cheaply ourselves.
  • by VisorGuy ( 548245 ) <inactive> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @06:52PM (#7840129) Journal
    Kind of like how most modern consumer electonics devices have smart chargers that stop charging the battery when it's full?

    I know my Neuros works that way.
  • fine if kept charged (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @08:02PM (#7840773)
    I've kept my rev A 10 GB ipod plugged in constantly for a couple of years--it's my main source of music at home and is plugged into my stereo at almost all times. But, on recent international flights, it has given me a solid 8 hours of music. I don't know why there is so much complaining about bad battery life.
  • by baryon351 ( 626717 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @08:24PM (#7840945)
    Depending on how the charging system works, that may or may not be relevant.

    However, what MAY affect things is that I've noticed a great deal of iPods left connected to a mac do get very very hot.

    One feature of a Lithium Ion battery is they age - and after around 3 years nearly every one made will be dead, it's just part of their chemistry. Heat drastically speeds up the ageing process in them, and I've no doubt that those iPods left connected and hot are killing their batteries.

    I don't know what's causing it, whether it's a software bug that keeps the HD spinning, or an overcharging bug, or they're being used as a HD constantly, for an hour or more at a time, but that heat is damaging to battery life. has good lay-readable info about various battery technologies and their characteristics.
  • by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @08:57PM (#7841182)
    I used to work at Radio Shack and did a very informal survey. Every time someone came in to buy a new battery for their cordless phone I asked how they cared for the phone and how long the battery lasted. In general, the more it was left on the charger, the shorter the life span. I broke down phone care into 3 groups: 1) Phone left on charger when not used. Battery lifespan was about 1 to 1 1/2 years. 2) Tried to keep phone on charger but forgot a lot. Lifespan about 2-3 years. 3) Kept phone off charger till the little light came on. Life span was 5 to 8 years. These are pretty cheap batteries but the responses were pretty consistent. I also talked to people who bought standard rechargable batteries and rechargables for RC planes and cars. They answers and life spans matched pretty well.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @09:25AM (#7844385) Homepage
    I've listened to all sorts of advice and have conducted limited experiments.

    I believe the great unstated truth is that rechargeable batteries just plain have a limited life.

    In fact, the lifetime on any one particular cell seems to be subject to a great deal of variation. For about ten years I tried to power all my AA, C, and D-cell-powered devices from rechargeable Nicads, and even when usage and recharging patterns were similar, some batteries _bought at the same time in the package_ might died after a year and a half, while others would be going strong after four years. I suspect this variation is one reason why manufacturers are so vague about lifetimes, and also contributes to peoples' superstitions (as they try to correlate the random behavior of individual cells with what they did to them.)

    People who try to share rechargeable devices tend to bully each other and try to impose their personal superstitions about it ("I TOLD you not to keep it on the charger, Mabel!"), and companies who do not wish to replace dead batteries certainly are inclined to reinforce this. If I were a support person and someone phoned me with a battery issue, I would certainly suggest that they discharge the battery fully and recharge it. Why not? It would get them off the phone, and it MIGHT work, and when they called back to say it didn't it would be someone else's problem.

    As for leaving batteries in the charger, at some point you have to assume that the people who make the batteries and the charger know what they're doing, and that the charger is smart enough not to deliver life-threatening quantities of charge to a fully charged battery. Certainly this should be true in these days where the chargers and batteries have microchips in them.

    So I say, don't kick yourself over it. Accept the fact that rechargeable batteries are a) damn expensive, and b) only last a couple of years. Yes, it sucks, but lots of things do.

    "Rechargeable" batteries sound as if they should last forever. So did "permanent needles" (ha! anyone else remember THOSE?), permanent waves, and permanent-press clothing.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"