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New iPod battery (posted 2012-03-11)

This week, I installed a new battery in my fifth generation iPod. I don't remember when exactly I bought that iPod, but it was probably in spring or summer 2006. So this iPod is more than five years old. When I tested the old battery, I was able to play music continuously for 3 hours and 13 minutes. So that's not even that terrible. However, the trouble was that spinning up the harddisk (yes, the insides of the iPod are almost completely filled with a 1.8" HDD) was becoming a big issue. Unless the battery was pretty much fully charged, spinning up the drive when the iPod booted wouldn't work. Even with USB power connected. (It did work with the iPod connected to a Firewire port, which provides much more power.)

So when connecting the iPod to my computer, it would go through a boot/spin/fail/wait cycle for more than an hour. After that hour it would still sync and be usable as an external drive. Even though I use my iPhone for music and podcasts these days, sometimes it's useful to have a second music player. And playing back podcasts is actually better in some ways on the 5G iPod than on the iPhone, as it simply stops playing after a podcast episode, and the clickwheel allows for easy scrubbing through an episode.

So when I discovered that I could get a new battery for about 15 euros (with shipping) from Amazon UK, I didn't hesitate. (They're available from lots of places online.) The battery even came with a plastic tool for opening up the iPod. It took me a few minutes to connect the new battery and close up the iPod, but all in all the procedure wasn't too difficult.

After the replacement, I cued up a bunch of podcasts, and listened to those over the course of 4 days. This is a much more demanding use case than playing music, as the iPod can buffer several songs in memory and only spin up its drive every 25 minutes or so when playing music. When playing long podcasts, it has to spin up more often, and also when resuming playback later. After some time the iPod goes into some kind of deep sleep so it has to boot up again when you want to use it the next day. I was able to play 6 hours and 53 minutes worth of podcasts after having charged the battery for the first time. That's a reasonable amount of time. But the good thing is that the iPod will now behave normally when connecting it to the computer, even if the battery is completely drained.

So now my biggest worry is that in 2017 when I need to replace this battery, they won't be available anymore...

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