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Chapter 14. iStuff > Battery Boosters

14.6. Battery Boosters

An iPod with a dead battery is no fun at all. Here are a couple of items designed to keep the music playing, even when the battery is not.

  • Belkin Backup Battery Pack can supply 15 to 20 hours of music even after the iPod battery has run down. You put four regular AA batteries into this pack, and then clamp it onto the back of the iPod with suction cups. The flat FireWire connector connects to the bottom of the music player to feed it energy. $60 at http://www.belkin.com.

    Two for Tunes

    While lots of these good-looking goodies are purely for the iPod, a couple of hardware items from Griffin Technology can enhance the digital music experience on the desktop side of things. Both devices work with Windows and Mac, and are available at http://www.griffintechnology.com.

    The Power-Mate USB Controller & Input Device, pictured here at left, looks like a plain old volume knob from a stereo console. But when you plug it into the computer's USB port, you can spin the dial to control the contents of just about any window on your screen. You can program the PowerMate to control the iTunes or MusicMatch Jukebox Plus volume level, scroll through insufferably long Web pages and documents, or advance quickly through camcorder footage in a video editing program. You can even program it to perform key commands

    The controller, which sells for $45, works with just about any application.

    Not all computers, especially laptops, come with an audioinput or microphone jack for recording your own sounds and songs directly onto the computer's hard drive. For those without, the iMic ($40) universal audio adapter, pictured here at right, connects to the USB port and provides the computer with stereo input and output jacks.

    Because the iMic is outside the loud, whirring computer, it often gets better audio quality than an internal microphone going through the sound card. (Software included can further customize the device's audio settings.)

    The iMic uses a standard stereo miniplug jack and can record from other music sources, like a MiniDisc player or stereo system, making it possible to record some of those old vinyl albums onto the computer and convert them to MP3 for use on the iPod.

  • Replacement Battery for iPods. The iPod's internal rechargeable battery is intended to last the life of the player—but on occasion, extremely heavy use might cause the battery to slow down or conk out. Although Apple has its own $99 battery-replacement service (take a deep breath and read down the page at http://www.info.apple.com/support/applecare_products/service/ipod_service.html), there's a way to do it yourself for less money if you don't mind voiding the warranty—especially if it's already out of date anyway.

    Laptops for Less sells rechargeable replacement batteries designed to fit both the original and dock-connecting iPod models. Illustrated instructions on its Web site let you see what you're getting into before you buy the battery. (Warning: It involves screwdrivers, rulers, and the forcible prying-open of iPods.) The replacement iPod battery sells for $50 at http://www.ipodbattery.com.

    PDASmart.com sells $60 replacement batteries for older iPod models as well. (If you're squeamish about cracking open the iPod case, mail it to them, and they'll do if for you for the mere fee of $68 for parts and labor.) Check out http://www.pdasmart.com/ipodpartscenter.htm for more information.



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