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iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition by J.D. Biersdorfer

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Charging the Battery

Many a cloud of gadget euphoria dies instantly when the new owner realizes that the device must sit in a battery charger and juice up before any fun can happen.

Out of the box, the iPod may have enough juice to turn itself on and get you hooked on spinning the wheel. But you’ll still need to charge the iPod before you use it for the first time.

The iPod’s data and power jack, usually called the dock connector port, has lived on the bottom of the player since 2003. Here, from top to bottom, the iPod Nano, a video iPod, and an iPod Photo; note that the Nano also has its headphone port on the bottom of the player. All three iPods have the Hold switch on top.

Figure 1-2. The iPod’s data and power jack, usually called the dock connector port, has lived on the bottom of the player since 2003. Here, from top to bottom, the iPod Nano, a video iPod, and an iPod Photo; note that the Nano also has its headphone port on the bottom of the player. All three iPods have the Hold switch on top.

Charging via USB 2.0 or FireWire Cable

You can charge your iPod over a FireWire or USB 2.0 connection, but new iPods don’t even come with FireWire cables anymore, so USB 2.0 is the only way to get a charge unless you have an old FireWire cable from a previous Pod. If your Mac or PC has powered FireWire or USB 2.0 jacks, you can charge up the iPod just by plugging it into your computer. (For FireWire, “powered” usually means the fatter 6-pin FireWire connector, not the little 4-pin connectors found on many Windows machines. For USB 2.0, you need a powered jack like those on the back of the computer, or on a powered USB hub—not, for example, the unpowered jack at the end of a keyboard.) The battery charges as long as the computer is on and not in Sleep mode.

It takes about 4 hours to fully charge your iPod. Note, however, that it gets about 80 percent charged after 2 hours (Nanos only take about 90 minutes to get the 80 percent power rush). If you just can’t wait to unplug it and go racing out to show your friends, you can begin to use it after a couple of hours.

During the charging process, you may see either the Do Not Disconnect message (if the iPod is also sucking down music from your computer), the “OK to Disconnect” message (if it’s done with that), or the main menu for a few minutes before the charging battery graphic takes over. The iPod will also warn you not to disconnect it if you’ve set it up to work as an external hard drive, but we’ll get to that business in Chapter 9.

Using an AC Adapter

You can also charge the battery by plugging the iPod’s cable into the boxy white AC power adapter that you can get for $30 from the Apple Store (http://store.apple.com) or shops that sell iPod gear (see Figure 1-3). Apple used to include this AC adapter with the iPod but has dispensed with all but the bare hardware minimum to get the iPod up and playing.

The cable that comes with the iPod plugs into the end of the now-optional AC power adapter. Flip out the electrical prongs tucked into the adapter’s end, and plug it into a regular wall socket. Run the cable between the AC adapter and iPod dock connector port (or charging dock, if you have one).Inset: The iPod makes it graphically clear that you’re charging its battery—just in case you were wondering.

Figure 1-3. The cable that comes with the iPod plugs into the end of the now-optional AC power adapter. Flip out the electrical prongs tucked into the adapter’s end, and plug it into a regular wall socket. Run the cable between the AC adapter and iPod dock connector port (or charging dock, if you have one).Inset: The iPod makes it graphically clear that you’re charging its battery—just in case you were wondering.

You can find the AC adapter in two flavors: One that fits the USB 2.0 end of the iPod cable and one that fits the older FireWire cables. Even though you have to pay extra for it now, having an AC adapter handy has a definite advantage in that you can juice up your iPod without having to connect it to your computer.

Note

Even when fully charged, the battery in an “off” iPod drains slowly after 14 to 28 days. If, for some inconceivable reason, you haven’t used your iPod in a month or more, you should recharge it, even if you left it fully charged the last time you used it.

Checking the Battery’s Charge

The battery icon on the iPod’s screen shows the approximate amount of gas left in the tank. When the iPod is connected to the computer, the battery icon in the top-right corner displays a charging animation, complete with tiny lightning bolt.

Battery Life

The iPod uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Battery life depends on which version of the iPod you have and how you use it. On the newest iPods that play video, Apple states that the 30-gigabyte model gets up to 14 hours of music playback between charges, or 3 hours of photo-and-music slideshows, or 2 hours of full-on video play.

The bigger 60-gigabyte model is rated for up to 20 hours of music-spinning, or 4 hours of slideshows, or 3 hours of movies. The wee iPod Nano gets up to 14 hours of music between charges, or 4 hours of photo slideshows scored to your favorite music tracks.

But you can expect shorter life in the real world (see the box on Section 1.2.4 for more details). If your iPod is conking out too soon, contact Apple Support by phone or Web. Originally, Apple made the iPod without a replaceable battery, at least until it faced a spate of power cells with early deaths (and owner complaints). Apple now offers a $59 battery replacement program and a special AppleCare warranty just for iPods.

Note

If you don’t mind voiding your iPod’s warranty—or if it’s already expired—and you’re up for a little manual labor, you can pry the case open and replace the battery yourself (Section 12.3.6.3).

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