MP3 Player Battery Guide

battery guide MP3 Player Battery Guide

MP3 players are utterly useless without power, so naturally this is a very important aspect of any player. There’s a lot of confusion going around both with regards to charging the batteries, preserving their maximum capacity and maximizing the play time per charge. Read on for a guide.

Charging: rumours and misconceptions

99% of all the rumours and misconceptions surrounding batteries for any electronic device have to do with charging them. A lot of “rules” on how to charge batteries are still around from the “old days” where electronics used completely different types of batteries, and has nothing to do with the reality today. Any modern MP3 player with a rechargeable battery will have a lithium based battery in it. Why this doesn’t say much, it’s very important when it comes to how the battery behaves. Most people have heard that you need to charge the battery for 12+ hours when you get it, leave it alone while charging, discharging and fully charging as often as possible etc. This is complete and utter nonsense when it comes to lithium based batteries. We’re talking a completely different battery technology, one which has a whole other set of rules. Here are some:

Lithium batteries don’t care when you charge them or for how long. All night, fine. 5 minutes at a time, fine. 10 times a day, go ahead.

There’s no priming needed, which means the first time you charge the battery is no different from the 100th time you charge the battery. You don’t have to charge it for an insane amount of hours, as the battery will shut down charging when it’s finished fully charging anyways.

Fully discharging the battery isn’t good for the battery. In most cases nothing bad will happen, but there’s a chance- especially if it’s stored for extended periods of time with no charge- that the battery won’t charge back up afterwards. The only reason to discharge it is in some cases where it will reset the battery’s ability to estimate the amount of charge left.

A lithium battery charges 70% of the capacity in 1/3 the total charge time, if charging from a fully discharged state. There is only one way to charge batteries, so quick chargers and promises of super charge modes are simply marketing. Some chargers even skip the last 30% to appear to charge fast, but that isn’t really the case. Sony is only such company which advertises fast charging on Walkman players, where 3 minutes of charging gives you 90 minutes of playback. This isn’t a Sony technology; it’s simply how lithium batteries work. Just do the math; If a player has 40 hours of battery life on a full charge, total charge time of 3 hours, and we know that it charges 70% in 1/3 the total charge time, that means 1 hour of charging gives you 28 hours of battery life. 3 minutes is 1/20 of an hour, and 1/20 of 28 hours is roughly 90 minutes.

There are technically ways to make sure the battery last for a long time (more recharge cycles), however the bottom line is that the benefit of most these tricks doesn’t justify the work. Avoid extreme temperatures both hot and cold and just charge the player when you need to. For 99% of consumers the battery will outlast the usage period anyways.

There are also other things to consider, but that are less important to the average user. If you want to geek out with battery information, take a look at the info over at Battery University. I especially recommend people take a look at the “do and don’t do” comparison chart for various battery types. They also have some info specific to lithium batteries that is interesting.

Battery life

Maximizing battery life

Battery life meaning how long the player will last on a charge varies greatly between different players. The actual number of hours you get out of a device depends not only on the capacity of the battery, but also how effectively the player uses the power. The Cowon i7- a very small player- has a rated battery life of 60 hours, which is much more than larger players yet it has a physically smaller battery.

When we mention battery life for players we always say “rated battery life”. This is because the battery life that is listed by the manufacturers is the optimistic version rather than what you most likely get will. The actual battery life you get out of the player depends on so many things that there is no way to say how much you will actually get. In a real life situation, you have songs with different bitrates, different formats, you use different sound enhancements, tinker with the screen for a certain amount of time, use different impedance headphones, use the player in various temperatures and so on. Battery life will vary noticeably from 128kbps to 320kbps, or between using the player in -25C here in Norway and +25C in Florida. As an example, the last time I charged my Sansa Fuze fully- a player I use only for audio books when outside- I got only about 12 hours into the book before it needed a recharge, which is half of the rated battery life. The reason was the temperature over here this time of year, and such a random factor can really affect battery life. If you change songs manually a lot, you will use the screen more, and so you will get hours less battery life than someone who leaves it running by itself all day. Normally people also mix between video and audio and possibly radio, photos etc, which further screws up the battery life estimates. If you have a small player, you can expect to get maybe a 5/1 ratio between audio and video battery life, while a big full-blown PMP might only give you a 2/1 ratio due to the larger screen, more power intensive CPU and so on. The bigger the player, the more battery life you’ll use up by tinkering with it. Bottom line, there are so very many aspects that affect battery life that people will get completely different results depending on the usage pattern.

That brings us to what you can do to prolong the battery life of your player. The short answer is to let it do its thing with minimal interaction from your side, as tinkering with it draws a lot of power. If you turn off sound enhancements and leave it in your pocket to do its business you will get more battery life without compromising too much. If you’re wondering about switching audio formats or bitrates, turning down the volume or buying lower impedance headphones you could do that, but it frankly wouldn’t be worth the trouble. However, at some point you have to choose between getting extra juice out of the battery and using the player to its fullest. If you’re on a 5 hour flight with 10% left on the battery of a player, you would be wise to only listen to music, but for daily use most player’s should have enough battery life to get you through the day.

Does it matter?

Luckily, players have enough battery life these days to last until you can reach a USB port or wall outlet, at least for audio and some video players. This is further augmented by portable USB batteries, car chargers and USB AC adapters to make it easy to charge the player any time you need to. Personally, even my Sansa Clip+ has enough battery life to get me through a full day at work and that is really all I need it to do, as I can just plug it in when I get home. I make sure I have gadgets or accessories that let me do whatever I want without having to worry about running out of battery, as otherwise there wouldn’t be a point to having a device capable of doing advanced things to begin with. I’d rather have the features I want and just enough battery to use them than have only the most basic features and enough battery life to get bored of them. Sure, 40 hour battery life is better than 20, but is it really that much of a hassle to plug the player in after you’re done using it for the day? With lithium batteries, such charging doesn’t hurt it one bit- in fact it’s recommended, so there really is no reason to insist on the player lasting a week per charge just for the sake of not having to charge it even if you could.

There are of course exceptions; people who forget simple things like plugging it in, people who travel a lot and don’t want to bring cables and chargers,
people who are outside or away from things to charge with and so on. If you’re out in the forest for 2 months, you don’t want to have to charge the player every day- in theory. There are solar chargers that can hang on a backpack during the day, charge an internal battery, and then let you charge off it during the night. Normal external USB batteries do the same thing for travelers, without the solar charging part, so even on a plane you should be able to do whatever you want with your device as long as you plan ahead. Some people have what can only be described as unhealthy relationship to AA batteries because they want the ability to switch out batteries easily and carry spares. AA and AAA batteries aren’t really used much anymore simply because they are bad for the environment, expensive and require a lot of space. Not only do the batteries take up more space than the equivalent rechargeable lithium ion or lithium polymer battery, but it also has double inner casing to add to the bulk; battery compartment and battery walls. This means that the player will be a lot bigger than it should simply to hold the batteries. The argument that you can buy such batteries anywhere is also often used, however in my opinion that “perk” doesn’t make up for all the downsides of using an outdated source for power, and you can easily plan around any such circumstance by using external batteries. A Callpod FuelTank for example gives you a whopping 4300mAh of rechargeable backup power for $50, which is about the same as 5 brand name AA batteries. Roughly put, after 10 uses the battery pack would have paid for itself compared to AA batteries, not counting the fact you can’t get AA powered devices and a battery pack like the FuelTank can charge any portable gadget. 4300mAh is enough to quadruple the battery life of players like the Zune HD or Cowon S9, and extend the battery of something like a Sansa Clip+ tenfold.

The point I’m trying to make here is that with the easy access to ways to charge a player that we have today, and the relatively long battery life of any player, is there really a point to obsessing about battery life? How many people have ever had their player run out of battery at a bad time, where that situation couldn’t have been avoided by spending about 5 seconds plugging in the player the night before? You buy MP3 players to use them, and while rationing and responsible use of resources is all good and well for many things in society, electricity to run your portable gadgets isn’t one such thing. Charging an MP3 player through USB for 2 hours uses about the same amount of power as a 40W light bulb running for about 7 minutes 30 seconds, so cost isn’t an issue either.

Battery lifetime

Another thing people like to obsess about is removable batteries. Another thing left over from the days of expensive electronics with bad types of batteries, people like the idea of being able to switch out the battery somewhere down the road when it starts to degrade. Again, is there any point?

First off, let’s get some more rumours and misconceptions out of the way. Laptop batteries often serve as a worst case scenario as they often lose their capacity a lot faster than anything else. This is due to several factors, like being discharged too often or being kept at temperatures too high- refer to the Battery University links for more info. For something like an MP3 player, the conditions of how the player is used aren’t “destructive” enough to affect the battery life that much over the total life span of the player. Most people will switch out their player without at least 2-3 years, and by that time the battery will have lost capacity to some degree. However, buying a new battery (if even possible for players that old) will most likely cost enough that buying a player with better features would be the logical choice, as the features/price ratio is still skyrocketing in the tech industry. I’m talking safe replacement parts now, not the $5 batteries you get on eBay that may or may not explode as well as having less capacity than the original battery, maybe even less than the worn out original battery. Those people who care enough about preserving the battery is also often the ones who have the most wrong information about how to prolong the lifetime of the battery (such as discharging it completely) and so there’s an ironic cause and effect in play. Removable batteries is a nice concept, however not a very useful one in today’s society. Between portable universal battery packs to provide extra power (compared to carrying spare proprietary batteries), the expected lifetime of a battery and the cost of properly replacing the battery at the end of the battery it simply isn’t something many people will do- and that’s why manufacturers don’t make special arrangements to make it possible

Bottom line

The point of this article is to get some pieces of misinformation set straight and put some things in perspective. With lithium batteries, the best thing you can do for your battery is to completely ignore how and when you charge the battery and just make sure you have enough power when you need it. Lithium batteries are made to serve the user, not the other way around, and the “tips and tricks” that are left from the old days of other types of batteries actually hurt lithium batteries. As for battery life per charge, I give the same advice as for charging; use the device as you want to, and make sure you have enough battery power in some form or another to do so- but don’t let the fear of running out of power stop you from using a device to the fullest.

54 Comments

Mike on January 11, 2010 11:23 AM

Actually, I think that most people would love user-replaceable batteries, but most players simply don’t offer them.

JuanJio on January 11, 2010 12:20 PM

@Mike Would they? I wouldn’t.

Andreas Ødegård on January 11, 2010 12:48 PM

Most people would love the idea and buy the player because of it. Then end up never actually switching out the battery because they switched players before the battery was worn out, or when it was, buying a new player would be cheaper.

Schermvlieger on January 11, 2010 1:03 PM

I prefer a good quality inbuilt lithium-ion battery over any other implementation. But then I don’t tend to spend days in a row in places where there are no wall outlets available, and those sparse times that i am, i don’t care much about listening to music on my player.

DustyT on January 11, 2010 2:54 PM

Great article! 1 thing I think you missed is that by having a user replacable battery, you can extend the life of a player not because you can’t replace it — but because there is nothing as good on the market to replace it with. (Or to be more ploitically correct, there is nothing on the market that has all of the same features that you prefer.) Check out the Insignia Pilot forums here at ABI for some examples of that. :) That being said, you are correct — most of us are always searching for the next player even when our current players battery is still a-ok.

Emily on January 11, 2010 3:09 PM

I’d like future MP3 players to have a removable battery like the Sansa E200, because if I like my MP3 player, I would want to be able to use it for more than 2-3 years. There should be more players with user-replaceable batteries.

Don on January 11, 2010 4:06 PM

The main advantage of sealed in batteries is that the manufacturer wants you to buy a new player. Apple spearheaded this movement with the (correct) assumption that most will replace their old player with another Ipod. Other MFR’s maybe can’t be as confident based on market share, but follow the leader anyway.

TE on January 11, 2010 7:48 PM

I agree with all the technical points in the article – indeed I use several mp3 players with fixed Lithium batteries daily. There is however one circumstance when only AA/AAA will do; travels to remote places. My kit then consists of a SanDisk 260m, an Altec im207 speaker, a Petzl headlamp, an Edirol R-09 solid state recorder and a Pentax camera. To run all of these I only need some rechargeable AA/AAA’s and a small Sony charger. And if no electricity is available it is no problem getting AA/AAA’s of the shelf.

Mike on January 12, 2010 12:39 AM

@JuanJio: OK, “many people …”;)

JSV on January 12, 2010 1:05 AM

The only reason there is not many players with user-replaceable battery is that the manufacturers want to force the customers to buy a new player when the battery is worn out.Even if this may be a “smart” marketing strategy, this is very wrong for other reasons.I’ve been using a Samsung P2 for two years now, it still works like new, the screen is still clear because I use a screen protector, the sound quality is still great after two years, there are just a few scratches on the back but I don’t mind those. I expect to see the battery capacity degrading pretty soon.The Samsung P2 still perfectly suits my portable media player needs, and if it weren’t for the battery, I would use it for as long as it doesn’t break, which could take many years because I take care of it and it is a well built, solid device.I think it is utterly stupid to have to discard a perfectly working, great quality device simply because the battery is dead, or simply because you want more recent stuff. The P2 is still a very decent player, even after two years. That is why I bought it, because I knew from the reviews here that it was one of the best.Now, imagine, tens, if not hundreds of tons of perfectly fine electronic devices (except for the dead battery) are being thrown away every week just because the battery is dead or because you kids are obsessed with having the latest blingy stuff to show-off…Lots of resources went into designing and building these things, much more than you may think.Check this out:http://fatknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/01/carbon-footprint-of-mobile-phone.html“…manufacturing a (single) cellphone uses as much energy as 10.5 gallons of gasoline and emits as much as 6.8 gallons of gasoline…”I know they are talking about cell phones, but I think that the energy used to manufacture a PMP would be similar.Such a waste of resources is ignominious if the intended life of the device is one or two years. A good way to waste less resources would be to have the possibility of using it for many years.

Will on January 12, 2010 2:26 AM

On the other hand I owned an iriver H10 and it had a removable/replaceable battery. The player croaked before the battery even showed signs of dying. Loved that thing to bits, aside from the annoying software glitches.However it’s not all bad, after the H10 I got an S9, sometimes you have to move along with technology, for the most part it only gets better.

Nicko on January 12, 2010 4:31 AM

Excellent Guide. Keep up the good work.

unagi on January 12, 2010 8:47 AM

I, too, am one of the people that favors user-replaceable batteries. I don’t really care what type of battery it is but I’d just like to have the opportunity to change it by myself if it degrades. Also, I had my last player (with replaceable battery) for over six years. I had to eventually get a new one because 128MB just aren’t enough these days.Andreas, I have one question: You wrote in the article “just charge the player when you need to”. My “problem” is that I use my player daily but not for extended periods of time – so I really don’t “need” to charge it every day. But as I download podcasts to it daily it automatically starts charging every time I connect it to the PC. Could that spell trouble for my (lithium) battery in the long run?

Lesley on January 12, 2010 1:04 PM

Replaceable battery is a selling point for me (not that I can find one). I bought a 8 GB Sansa View in 2006 and the battery life is now degrading. There is nothing wrong with this player except that I have to charge it every few hours. If I could change out the batteries — and not add another piece of electronic junk to recycling or rubbish piles — I would. Nonreplaceable batteries encourage throw-away mentalities — and of course, mandate customers buying new MP3 players unless they just want to keep them plugged in all the time once their battery lives degrade. As it is, I’m thinking of buying a refurb model of the View – it fits my needs just fine and I don’t really want to spend $200 or $300 on a new player.

Andreas Ødegård on January 12, 2010 2:08 PM

@unagi: such charging is good, not bad, so just let it do it’s thing and charge when you sync :) @lesley: I’m not saying such instances isn’t waste, but you’re probably among a very small group who would pay money to keep a view alive. A new one is 93 bucks on amazon, and if sandisk even offered replacement batteries, I’d guess at least $50 for it. As I said, while you might have paid that to fix it, not many people would when they could add 30 bucks or so ane get a brand new, much better player. Environmental issues and logic doesn’t mean mainstream consumers will do it, and manufacturers sell to mainstream consumers not the small niche that’s pro users, unfortunately

Anymouse on January 12, 2010 8:53 PM

Wouldn’t using low impedance earphones and headphones cause you to draw more amperage and thus run down your battery quicker?

Jaigoda on January 13, 2010 12:31 AM

It seems that most of the pro-replacable battery people haven’t read the article all the way through. I mean, a replacable battery is a great idea in theory, but once you start thinking about how difficult it would be to implement without making the player bigger, uglier, and/or more expensive, you might begin to realize that it’s unrealistic to make a player with a replacable battery. Andreas also made a good point a few posts above, saying that the cost of the battery would likely rival the price of a new (and of course always decreasing in price) product. I’m sure that the battery is a large portion of the cost of my 4GB Clip, and replacing the battery would likely be almost the same cost of a 4 or even 8GB clip+, which would actually give an upgrade.I would say that it does seem rather dissapointing to think that a $200-300 player might need to be replaced in 3 years or so. In that case it might be a decent option for the manufacturer to replace the player’s battery for, say, 50 dollars or so. However, for any player under $100 (which is getting to be a pretty large group considering price drops), it just doesn’t seem realistic to provide a replacable battery.

Andreas Ødegård on January 13, 2010 12:32 AM

@Anymouse: The higher the impedance, the higher you need to put the volume for the same relative volume level, and the higher you need to run the internal amp, which in turn uses more power. Impedance is the resistance of the headphones, put simply.

Emily on January 13, 2010 2:46 AM

I don’t think replacement batteries have to be prohibitively expensive ($50 plus) – you can get a battery for the Sansa e200 series for 6 bux on eBay, and though it’s not the offical battery from Sandisk (it’s no-name brand), it can’t be much worse in its functionality.

Andreas Ødegård on January 13, 2010 10:40 AM

@Emily: Actually it can. Appart from the fact such batteries often have less capacity that rated, they are often not the best quality around. This can affect the internal chips that control cutting off charging, make it heat up too much, and so on. As an example, I picked a random cell phone battery off dealextreme.com and the forum threads underneath the product description can show you better than I can: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.22705. Look around that store at other replacement batteries and I’m sure you’ll find more than enough reasons why I specified that ebay batteries arent a good idea in the article.

Spanky on January 13, 2010 11:19 PM

At risk of continuing the ongoing saga of replaceable batteries, as stated many times already, most people will replace their devices before the battery degradation becomes an issue.For those enthusiasts that want to keep them, a screw drive, a soldering iron and a visit to one of the more reputable online battery sellers will usually fix the problem for very little.After searching in vain for a replacement to my H340, I ended up just replacing the (non replaceable) battery for $10, and in about 10 minutes. If a device is good enough, the information will already be out there.I guess my point is there is little impetus for manufacturer’s to make batteries replaceable for most gear (laptops being an exception in my mind), and little reason to for most users.

WIU2B on January 14, 2010 2:57 AM

Great article but throwing my IAudio X5L + expensive leather case in the dustbin only because the battery is finished? What a waste. Just replaced it (without any soldering hassle) and I have a brand-new player.

Corinn on January 15, 2010 7:03 PM

I think more people would prefer user-replaceable batteries if the devices in question were not designed with planned obsolescence in mind.Certain devices that *do* have removable/replaceable batteries are discontinued now (think vintage Sony PCDPs and the Sony NW-HD5) and other DAPs that do not have user-replaceable batteries but are also discontinued (5.5G iPod that is so popular for modding the line-out).When it comes to basic flash players, though, it’s understandable why the battery isn’t removable. The device itself probably retails for less than a compatible battery.

Scooter on January 16, 2010 9:33 AM

I had a Sandisk e200 with replaceable battery for nearly four years. Its battery was starting to crap out and I was about to buy a new one (you can get them for $5 or $6) when it got stolen and I had to replace it with a Sandisk Fuze, which cost US$72. In short, replaceable batteries are a strong selling point for me. I disagree with the folks above who warn against buying non-brand name batteries. I bought a generic battery for my Canon camera for a fraction of the cost of the official battery and it actually lasts longer.

Glymbol on January 22, 2010 5:42 PM

I have iriver Clix 1st gen for 3 years. The player is good enough for me, and i would be glad to use it for another 3 years but its battery is somewhat degraded already. My brother has iriver T10 powered by AA accu, and his player probably will last forever. I’m not interested in current iriver player models, in fact I consider the old one better in overall quality. I guess I will be searching for battery replacement for Clix next year or something…

Molly on January 24, 2010 7:58 PM

I just don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you want a replaceable battery? Even if you felt the need to get a new player, you could always have a spare one.Why would you want to force yourself to get a new mp3 player exactly when the battery runs out?

Tashi on January 31, 2010 2:39 PM

Replaceable batteries maybe expensive in some cases and you may think that it is better to get a new device. However, that’s hardly environmentally sound (metals can be very dangerous if not disposed of properly).If the battery just runs out of power you may suggest just getting a charger. However, you then have to wait for the damn thing to charge. I prefer replaceable batteries because:a) A new device does not NEED to be purchased if the battery degrades to muchb) The depleted battery can be “hot swapped” and recharged, while the device can still be used. (more independent charges be needed for this (not charging through the device).AAs and AAAs are not necessarily a poor choice. They are available literally everywhere in the WORLD and are not proprietary, so shops don’t have to have a plethora of batteries. Chargers can be purchased that use AAs and AAAs anyway.Non-replaceable batteries seem to be mainly a DAP/PMP thing. Devices of a similar size, such as mobile phones and point and shoot cameras (which also tend to have independent chargers) mostly seem to have replaceable batteries.The advice in the article on replaceable batteries is useful for people in MEDCs, who have a regular supply of electricity, but for people in LEDCs and travellers (also people who go to LEDCs), it isn’t. The rest of the article though, should be read by anyone who has a modern device.

JJ on January 31, 2010 10:48 PM

The battery question comes down to whether you agree with the environmentally wasteful throw-away mentality. If you believe in that, you will back-fill with any logic you can find. The main reason for not letting you replace batteries AND for ridiculously high replacement battery prices is that they make more money and a lot of folks will follow like sheep – especially if they read a note by an otherwise knowledgeable person that corroborates the notion.Why not just go buy an ipod and be done with it??

Drive-In-Freak on February 12, 2010 4:48 PM

Insignia batteries are now selling 2 for $10. And no they are not knock-offs.You could get 10 new batteries for the price of one Sansa clip.

Julien on February 13, 2010 12:35 AM

I own an iRiver T20. Great MP3 player: good sound quality, plays OGGs and MP3s, built-in voice recorder, FM radio, FM recorder, a podcast mode (they call it “study” mode) to skip through files in 3 minute increments, it remembers where you are in a podcast when you turn it off…In short: it’s a great player. I’ve had it for something like 5 years now. It takes a single AA battery. I put in a rechargeable, which lasts me about 6 months before I replace it.I don’t like the idea of built in batteries, because then I’d have to throw away a perfectly good player. I can understand the move away from AA/AAA for reasons of size, but let me replace the one part of it that’s perishable within a short time frame.

Marcel on March 10, 2010 3:57 PM

Thanks for the great article. I am one of those guys who always thought that especially the first charges are crucial for for the capacity and life-time of a LI-IO battery.I even was paranoid enough, not to sync my mobile phone via the USB cable just because it automatically starts charging when connected (HTC Hero).Anyway.. I own a Cowon X5 for over 4 yrs now, and already replaced the battery two times because of heavy usage. First one was an original battery which got replaced by Cowon service center, second one comes from a replacement “kit” from eBay which has the typicall capacity problems as all this shi** from ebay.I’ve been to Korea a couple weeks ago and was very close before buying a S9 (it’s about 70 EUR cheaper up there!), but finally I didn’t because I am absolutely satisfied with my X5 and don’t want to replace a good working device!

Sven Hedin on April 17, 2010 11:09 PM

Actually, there is one mistake in the initial text about what li* batteries like and dislike.A li* cell will take the most damage from charging and storage when full, so charging at the top end of the charge level (starting charge when the battery is almost full) is bad to do often. Also charging should never be started over 4V battery voltage since this will wear down the battery a lot faster than normal.A smart charger will take this into account and charge the battery full, and then wait until it drops below 4V before it starts again, but some less smart chargers will “trickle charge” at 4.2V indefinitely if the charge cable is left attached, this can actually damage the batteries.So some of the “old information” still stands, don’t charge unless you actually need to, if your player has 20 hours of battery time and you listen 4 hours a day you should not charge every day just to “keep it full”.

Andy on April 23, 2010 9:28 AM

Good article – there’s a lot of misinformation about batteries and I end up boring a lot of people in order to get them over their misconceptions from when a rechargeable battery meant a NiCad… Just one point on the replacement of batteries in MP3 players though – this may not apply to the tiniest players, but to a lot of the larger PMPs – these aren’t substantially different in size to a lot of mobile phones, and every mobile phone I’ve used had a replaceable battery… I think it’s got more to do with marketing and people’s expectations rather than strictly a limitation of price or form factor issue.

John Doe on April 26, 2010 5:26 PM

My Sansa Clip + 4 GB won’t take charge or turn on. It’s less than 30 days old. The power cut off, and like a moron I turned it back on. I simply had not seen it under half a battery, and I didn’t believe it. what should I do?

Pippi Longstocking on April 30, 2010 1:25 PM

I have a Sony MP3 player that is 6 years old. It plays for 70 hours on a single rechargeable AAA. I have four rechargeable AAAs that I only need to pack into a charger and plug in about once every 6 weeks or so. I *never* run out of tunes on my daily commute because I always carry my spare recharged batteries with my player. It’s green, reliable and means I don’t have to chuck my player if the rechargeable batteries start to fail, plus I can always use an alkaline battery if the ‘worst’ should happen and I use up all my rechargeables and i’m away from my recharging unit. This thread does show there’s a demand for AAA or AA MP3 players. Hope someone reads this and makes some more players that use this ‘outdated’ technology!

Mark on May 19, 2010 11:01 PM

I really should be heading over to battery univ. but I do not wish to consume too much mobile battery power while doing so, could anyone give me the gist, comparisons of various lithium types-e.g. Lithium ion/polymer etc.?

Brian O Donnell on September 20, 2010 5:59 PM

I bought a Sony 1060x mp3 player; because of the fantastic sound; I thought it would last me for many years,I had a Sony Minidisc player that lasted 12 years!! but I have just started to find out that the battery may fail after 2 or 3 years. Sony will replace it but it will cost 72 pounds.

I always pay a bit extra because I want things to last; it is a pity that we are forced to change players, when we are happy with the one we have got. Had I known about this battery issue; I may have not bought such an expensive player.

Unfortunately we are at the mercy of these companies-and this idea they have of planned obsolescance. But we always have trade offs in life; do I want to go back to lugging around 40 or 50 minidiscs, or CDs ?

(No I dont think so.) It is just a shame that a device, that has no moving parts to wear out; has a battery inside that will wear out.

But as many people said; I hope one day we can find players that have user-changeabale batteries, but the manufactures would probably lose to much money. !

Rich Lachapelle on October 18, 2010 4:14 AM

Replaceable battery does not necessarily mean
“disposable”. Rechargeable NiMH AAs have a long run time and long storage charge time.
Sometimes you want a spare player that can sit in a seldom used place like a boat or camp and be ready for use anytime. The environmental argument for built-in rechargables is not sound. These are typically Lithium based and
should be properly recycled when spent but when your favorite player poops out after 2 years, face it, most people are going to just chuck it in the can. Even using disposable alkaline AAs is more responsible than chucking a lithium battery. Alkalines dont contain nasty toxics.

Uri Liebeskind on October 18, 2010 7:22 PM

I have only used mp3 players with rechargable AA or AAA batteries (eneloop) and I will never buy an mp3 player with internal battery. None of my past mp3 players had to be replaced because of degrading internal battery. I always have a bunch of pre charged batteries on stock. this allows me to charge batteries when it is most conveniant for me without having a forced chrge timeout for my mp3 player.
I just do not see ONE advantage of built in non replacable batteries. If throwing away a mp3 player because of a degrading battery, why should then beenig forced to use iTunes be so bad? Hey many people can live with iTunes!?! Either I accept beeing fu***d by a company or I don’t. By promoting internal batteries, abi just loses its focus and can straight convert to the Apple-religion.

chuckmnv on November 7, 2010 7:07 PM

O.k., so I read thru this whole thing. If, at the end of a couple of years, I’m going to chuck my player, what happens to everything I’ve saved on it? Do I start over with a new player? Seems about as stupid to me as not being able to replace a dead battery. I guess I’m old school: I prefer to keep things until they are non-repairable.

ethan on December 13, 2010 5:44 AM

this article desperately needs updating to cover a lot of good info in the comments and eliminate some of the half-truths and baseless opining (“this is the way i like it, therefore it’s the best way” come on!).

in addition to what others wrote about AA/AAA’s:
new hybrids/LSD eliminate the last major issue with NiMH rechargables. Get some Rayovac Hybrids or Sanyo Eneloops for all your AA/AAA applications, along with a decent charger like the La Crosse BC-500 and you won’t be sorry.

The “bulk” argument is similarly BS. AAs and AAAs add negligible bulk to designs, unless you wear jeans so tight that they are cutting off circulation to your nethers anyways. Think about it: we can carry our *entire music libraries* on a device the size of a cell phone, or often smaller. Why are we bitching about size and bulk? Here’s why:

Single AAA/AA designs are feasible in low power drain applications. Lastly, they are incredibly inexpensive and high-value.

As for user-replaceable batteries in general: Financial cost isn’t the only factor in people’s decisions as to whether and how much they would pay to replace their battery vs entire player.

A lot of us actually care about minimizing waste. We don’t want to have to shop for a new player that does what our current player does (and sometimes, as another commenter says, a better option doesn’t really exist).

Players aren’t necessarily getting better. They are, however, getting smaller and more disposable. That’s a sad trend, and consumer habits will follow suit, at least until open-source hardware comes along.

Resist Corporate Brainwashing on January 6, 2011 9:57 PM

How thoroughly the corporations have brainwashed an entire generation of foolish sheep! Following their corporate masters every whim. Over the cliff, now! Bah Bah Bah Whoosh!

Would you buy a $100 digital camera with a non-removable lithium battery. What? Throw a good camera away because the battery is exhausted! Need the camera when the battery is discharged? Sorry, you need wait a few hours to charge the built-in battery before you get to snap that Kodak moment. Not to being handy to a charging station. Traveling and can’t find a place to charge? Sorry again, suckers. The fact is very few if any would be stupid enough to buy a good digital camera with an irreplaceable battery.

However, the above common sense disappears when it comes to mp3 players that can cost hundreds of dollars. Now the sheep love those built-in batteries! Except when they discharge and you don’t wish to wait an hour or much more to charge the thing. The nature of a small mp3 player is its portability so make sure while you’re out and about to enjoy those few hours of music or spoken word before your batt needs a charge. Oh, you say your expensive player still works fine but the battery is shot and you need toss the unit. What joy? Celebrate your idiocy! Great! You got taken by your corporate masters and have to buy a new one! Hah hah hah. Great for the corporate bottom line, but silly sheep get screwed again and will bend over backwards for the privilege. Such is the power of corporate brainwashing and such is the sheer foolishness and stupidity of the sheep.

Thinking Cap on January 6, 2011 11:06 PM

Why did Apple start the whole routine of marketing expensive portable electronics without no removable battery? Simply put, it is a “hold up” as in baldfaced robbery for extra profits. The corporations following the Apple lead have brainwashed consumers to accept the regressiveness, inconvenience, and sheer waste of money and resources by convincing them that non-removable batteries are a good thing! You wouldn’t buy a good digital camera with a non-removable battery for all kinds of excellent if not obvious reasons. Astonishingly, too many consumers have suspended that common sense when it comes to mp3 players that will not allow a spent battery to be replaced in a few seconds by a fresh battery. Why? Simply put, corporations for their own profits have successfully marketed the daft idea that it’s better to throw away the entire unit, which may have cost hundreds of dollars, just because the battery went dead! Not to mention the terrific inconvenience of having to suspend operation of the player in order to recharge the thing. Being portable, these players need be handy to a charging station of some sort. How portable then are they? This isn’t progress, my friends.

Indeed, theirs is a scheme to enhance profits to the tune of billions of dollars by emptying consumer pockets redundantly while landfills drip with the heavy metals and organic toxins of millions of players disposed of before their useful life is done.

Resist corporate mind control. Demand mp3 players and sundry electronic gadgets with removable batteries! Save tons of money, enjoy the immediacy of your music and video whenever and however long you want it, and spare Mother Earth of more poisons at the same time.

Larry Harrison on January 30, 2011 3:49 AM

Add me to the list of persons who vote strongly for user-replaceable batteries. I have stuck with the SanDisk Sansa e280, the largest of the e200-series, for this very reason.

It is simply ascinine for a player to not have batteries user-replaceable, no matter the idea that “by the time the battery’s used up you’re apt to want another player anyway.” So what? Even $5 watches from Dollar General have user-replaceable batteries, and who’s going to bother it there? But they do, as cheap as they are & as quick as it is to set the time on a new watch. MP3 players are much more costly & take much more time to set up (copying all those songs over again).

In fact, although I tend to favor a “minimal government” type of marketplace, I’d even be in favor of government mandates that REQUIRE manufacturers of MP3 players to make the batteries user-replaceable. Yes, legally REQUIRE it, MAKE the companies change this silly design.

LRH

dc on February 20, 2011 5:45 PM

I’m just shopping now for a player for my wife to use with audio books. As far as replaceable batteries go, I am using a PDA I got in 2003 that takes a standard SD card that I can copy whatever I want to play. I can still use this thing for 5-6 hour stretches.

I also use eneloop batteries because they are cheaper over the long run. There IS no reason these things cannot be designed to take standardized batteries. My PDA has the “built in” battery, and you will note that no, I do not have any desire to “upgrade”. My wireless head phones can use eneloops. The form factors of all these built in batteries are not that different that they would impede design possibilities.
BTW, there is a difference with a true rapid charger: one thing you don’t seem to know about lithium chemistry is that they can handle fairly large current in either direction [thus their use in cars]. However, there is a price to pay in that the charger needs to have a “brain” and it does shorten life somewhat.

Jeff on February 26, 2011 12:12 PM

What a load of BS.

I want a player that takes AA/AAA batteries. I don’t want anything else.

Why?

Because I don’t want to ditch the player when the battery is dead. I don’t want to be forced into buying a new player when the hardware is perfectly fine. I don’t want to upgrade. I use rechargeable AA/AAAs, which, frankly, is far more environmentally friendly than throwing away an entire player.

cromag on February 28, 2011 5:00 AM

Add me to the list of people who cannot see the sense of throwing out a 3 year old player just because the batteries won’t take a decent charge. My first “good” player, a Creative Nomad Jukebox 2, had a HUGE Li-Ion battery that was user-replaceable — one reason it lasted almost 6 years.

yt on March 31, 2011 1:22 PM

can some one tell me where to buy this battery in malaysia & how much it will be? thanks.

Heywood Jablome on April 24, 2011 10:25 PM

I am also looking for a new player to replace my beloved iRiver 795 Flash Player. It runs on AA and still works great several years after I bought it… the only reason I want to find a new player is the need for more storage capacity, plus realizing the age of it I know it can’t last forever.
The only thing preventing me from buying a new player is that I refuse to spend money on a throwaway player without a replaceable battery… for all of the same reasons as so many others have already mentioned above. (environmental, convenience, common sense, disgusting trend of the disposable mentality, etc)

zen V plus on August 7, 2011 4:03 AM

Ok so i understand. I know now that after years the battery capacity decreases. And i also understand 99% of people will replace their mp3. Well sadly im that 1% that still has an mp3 from 5 years ago. Currently i can get my battery to (what is says) 55%-60%. Which is why i looked this up. Now… I do need to keep my mp3 because well i dont have any money to replace it. Is their a way to get it back up to 100% without going threw anything that i would most likely screw up.

Mp3 Model: Creative Zen V Plus
Firmware Version: 1.03.03_0.05.09
Manufactured: 6/?/2006

P.S. It was shut off for about a year before it started being used again.

tom on November 9, 2011 5:43 PM

I’d like to know about any modern mp3 player that uses 1 AA battery to power it. Anybody know of one?

Hans on December 2, 2011 2:15 AM

Add me to the list as well. I prefer devices running on standard rechargable batteries (AA or AAA type). Because usually I want to decide for myself whether and when to replace a gadget. I am very satisfied with LSD type batteries. They do their work pretty well on devices like my remote controls, clocks, audio field recorder, GPS, variometer etc. I accept proprietary battery designs for devices that require a higher volumic energy like some cameras or very small devices like cell phones. But even those batteries must be user-replaceable. Fixed battery = no buy.

Andreas, do you firmly believe the 99% majority is too lazy to write comments? ;-)

khosro hashemi on December 5, 2011 5:31 AM

hi there , i have a dhh200 which its battery seems to be damaged ,i am in iran and how can i repair it ? after any charging it shows : low battery.
thanks in advance for ur guide.

Brian Fender on December 27, 2011 12:21 AM

I have bought a cheap sylvania mp3 player. It did not come with a charger. Does it charge when it is plugged into a USB port on my laptop? very confused and not very technical. Please help me. Thank you very much, Brian

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