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 scroll wheel. But you’ll still need to charge the iPod before you use it for the first time.
If your Mac or PC has powered FireWire or USB 2 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, 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 three hours to fully charge your iPod. Note, however, that it gets about 80 percent charged after an hour. If you just can’t wait to unplug it and go racing out to show your friends, you can begin to use it after an hour.
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 (if it’s a 2003 or later model).
Some iPods come with a cool accessory: the iPod dock. The dock, shown in Figure 1-4, is a plastic stand with FireWire and stereo line-out connections built into the back. To charge up the iPod, you can either plug in the flat FireWire cable right into the bottom of the player, or plug the cable into the back of the dock.
Figure 1-4. The iPod dock allows for upright charging and a better view of the iPod’s screen, not to mention a healthy flow of air around that toasty little battery as it charges. If your iPod didn’t come with the dock, you can buy one separately on Apple’s Web site for $40. (Alas, the dock doesn’t fit 2001 or 2002 iPod models. There is one available for the iPod Mini, though.)
Once the dock is plugged into the computer, place the iPod upright onto the metal connector in the bottom of dock to begin charging it. The iPod trills out a little tweet of joy when it makes contact, and you see the animated "charging battery" icon.
You can also charge the battery by plugging the iPod’s FireWire cable into the boxy white AC power adapter that comes with it (Figure 1-5). With the iPod turned off, a larger version of the animated charging battery icon appears in the middle of the screen.
Figure 1-5. The FireWire cable that comes with the iPod plugs into the end of the AC power adapter. Flip out the electrical prongs tucked into the adapter’s end, and then plug it into a regular wall socket. Run the FireWire cable between the AC adapter and the iPod’s FireWire port (or charging dock). Inset: The iPod makes it graphically clear that you’re charging its battery—just in case you were wondering.
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-left corner displays a charging animation, complete with tiny lightning bolt.
The iPod uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Battery life depends on which version of the iPod you have.
If you let a 2001 or 2002 iPod play all night, you can get about 12 hours per charge. But if you’re like most normal people who turn it on and off, tinker with settings, skip around playlists, and turn on the backlight, eight hours is a more likely average.
The 2003-and-later iPod is smaller than the previous models, so it contains a smaller battery; same goes for the iPod Mini. Apple estimates that modern iPod models have a battery life of up to eight hours. Again, you can expect shorter life in the real world (see the box below for more detail). 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 user complaints). Apple now offers a $99 battery replacement program and a special AppleCare warranty just for iPods.
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 126.96.36.199).