By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions


Within the last month or so, the battery life of my five-year-old, third-generation iPod dropped to almost nothing. It was too old to justify sending it back to Apple for one of its expensive battery-switch jobs, but too functional to toss out. So I sent away to a company that promised to sell me a battery and easy installation instructions for just $33, a price that included shipping. Sounded pretty good to me.

The battery showed up last night. According to the instructions, and to a really nifty online video, all I had to do was wave this blue plastic tool (included) in the general vicinity of my iPod, and the case would magically, and safely, come apart so that I could make the switch without causing any damage to the insides. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Let me cut to the chase and tell you there was no way on earth that case was coming apart with the magic blue tool. I enlisted the help of Media Nation Jr., who opened it the only way I think it could have been done: with a utility knife and a screwdriver.

The sides ended up slightly worse for the wear, but he was able to make the switch without incident and put things back together the way they were before I had attempted my blue-tool magic. It was pretty easy — no forcing anything, no pushing anything around.

And yet. Now that it’s back together, the headphone jack doesn’t work. If you squish things around, you’ll get some momentary sound, but you can’t sit there and listen to the thing. The other end — the slot used to charge it, transfer music and play through my car stereo — works just fine, which makes me wonder whether there’s some sort of headphone adapter I could get. For now, though, it looks like I’ve got a car-only iPod, which takes care of maybe two-thirds of my needs.

I’m not singling out the battery company because the battery seems fine. I suppose it’s not the company’s fault that it felt it had to lie emphasize the positive about how easy it would be to crack open the iPod. But, as careful as MNJ was, the difficulty he had in opening it up is obviously why the headphone jack got damaged.

All of which means that I’m now iPod-less, more or less. And wondering why Apple had make the thing so difficult to pull apart.

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  1. Will Seberger

    I’m on my third 80gb iPod Video because the battery keeps crapping out prematurely.Next time, I’m getting something else.I don’t have much iTunes Store music, so I’m not tied to the system.Amazon sells DRM-free tunes.

  2. Howard Owens

    You wonder why Apple wants you to buy more iPods?

  3. Aaron Read

    Steve Jobs is on the record as saying that consumers should buy a new iPod every year to keep their technology current.Greedy little bastard, isn’t he?

  4. Sean Roche

    i (because it’s trendy) Planned Obsolescence Device.(I don’t recall ever reading that acronym, but it’s entirely likely as it seems kinda obvious.)

  5. What in Tarnation?

    My Sansa is pretty cool.

  6. MeTheSheeple

    Because … It just works.I just sent up a Sansa for my dad. Nice device, wish audiobooks were split into a separate major category, and the conversion program is really slow and only uses one processor. But overall, I thought it was a great device, and my old one’s been much more reliable than the iPods of anyone I know: “This is my fifth one, and I love it!”

  7. DanW

    I replaced the battery on my 2nd generation iPod and though it was a little tricky, the plastic tool did work.I have a Touch now, and I can say this is my fifth one and I love it. 1st gen, sold. 2nd gen, used as a portable hard drive. 4th (5th?) gen, used for media backup and long trips. Shuffle, used while exercising. Touch, used commuting and short trips.Of course, I could be the exception that proves the rule. 🙂

  8. Mike from Norwell

    The inability of being able to replace a battery easily is the one downfall of IPods, Iphones (and to be fair, Palms). I’ll stick with my Blackberry, thank you, with a battery I can easily switch out when the time comes (or be able to carry a second charged one if travelling).My kids’ Sansa Mp3 players run on AAA batteries. Lot to be said for using standard battery types for devices, and that goes as well for digital cameras.

  9. Will Seberger

    Admittedly, the reason I’ve kept with it is the form factor, storage size and that it plays video.To my knowledge, there isn’t another player with 80GB of storage the size of the iPod.The Archos 605 and 705 looks cool, but it’s pretty big; and a screen like that isn’t really pocket-able.I’ve messed with the Zune, and it just plain stinks if you use a Mac.

  10. BangorRon

    Whoops, I think this accidentally sent. To stick it to The Man and avoid replacing the iPod, basically, get some cheap gadget such as cheap aftermarket speakers that fit the jack that works, cut the cord, then cut the tip off your headphone jack and twist the wires together. You may end up with left as right and right as left, but if you stand on your head all will be fine.

  11. Gladys Kravitz

    I am on my third, and last, iPod. They actually seem to be getting worse. Songs from my vast musical library seem to skip arbitrarily now. Sometimes whole albums skip. Sometimes just 2 or 3 songs on an album skip. Old songs, new songs… doesn’t matter. This is a BRAND NEW ipod. Apparently, Apple is aware of this issue and has no intention of fixing it.I have a friend who constantly raves about the wonderfullness of the Apple/Mac universe, and who wants me to switch. My experience with the iPod has been all the convincing I will ever need not to.

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