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4/7/2006
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Five Things You Didn't Know About Apple's iPod

Despite the massive popularity of the player, there are still some little-known tricks that can help you get more mileage out of your music. (Hint: You can replace that battery yourself.)

Apple's massively popular music player has practically spawned a blogosphere all its own, with sites devoted to uncovering the latest hacks as well as contrary blogs that sing the praises of iPod alternatives.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs and company aren't sitting still, continuing to expand the iPod ecosystem with accessories to stoke sales.

However, buried amid all that information are some little-known facts and helpful workarounds that can help you get more mileage out of your music experience. Accordingly, we bring you five things you might not know about the iPod.

You can replace the iPod's battery yourself.

Problems with the iPod's battery became big news when an underground video, "iPod's Dirty Secret" was posted on the Web in late 2003. The video detailed New York artist Casey Neistat's claim that his iPod battery wouldn't hold a charge and Apple wouldn't fix it, suggesting instead that he buy a new iPod. The video, which cost $40 to make, got over a million hits and spawned stories in the Washington Post, and on Fox News and CBS.

Around the same time, eight iPod owners had filed a class-action lawsuit in California, claiming that the iPod's battery didn't last as long as Apple had promised and that the "battery's capacity to hold a charge substantially diminished over time." The suit was settled in 2005 with $50 coupons and extended warranties to owners of older iPods.

In the wake of the bad battery publicity, Apple moved aggressively, cutting the price of battery replacements from an original $99 fee to $59, plus $6.95 shipping, and it also began offering replacements at its stores, rather than just via mail-in.

However, if $66 is still too steep for you, there's the unofficial repair route of user-installable batteries. Here, the big roadblock is that the iPod wasn't designed to be opened or serviced by its owners.

That hasn't deterred dozens of vendors from offering do-it-yourself replacement battery kits on eBay. Many come complete with mini-screwdrivers and instructions on how to crack open the case.

More thorough are the instructional videos posted by Mac parts house Other World Computing to go along with the NuPower iPod battery replacements they sell. The videos helpfully walk prospective battery changers through a tricky process, which begins with squeezing the iPod's seam slightly to separate the back cover from its face. Next, a special, spatula-like tool has to be inserted and gently worked around the periphery. With the case opened, the hard drive must be removed to gain access to the battery.

Popular Science has put together similar instructions in written form.

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