Review: iLuv Accessories - i601

Extend your playing time with this battery (September 6th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: iLuv

Price: 49.95 US

The Good

  • Simple and straightforward instructions. Easy to use single piece. Tripled the battery life of my iPod nano.

The Bad

  • No belt loop or clip. Battery does not last 36 hours as advertised. Hides engraving on the back of iPod. Not easy to take on and off, so not a good choice if you coordinate your cases with your outfits.

Apple advertises up to 14 hours of music playback for the iPod nano, but my experience differs. I'm lucky if I my iPod nano lasts 4 hours, although MacNN forum users report an average of 4 to 8 hours use. Of course, battery life is affected heavily by how you use your iPod. You can find tips for extending your battery life on Apple's site. iLuv, a division of jWIN Electronics, sells an add-on battery for the iPod nano and video. They implement the battery connection in an interesting way; as a silicon cover that the nano slips in. There are two products for the iPod nano and video. They offer an advertised 36-hour battery extender and a 56-hour battery for the nano, while they offer 42-hour and 55-hour batteries for the video. This review covers the 36-hour battery for the iPod nano. All four products come in black or white silicon cases.

Double the Weight and Battery Life

The iLuv battery is a rechargeable lithium polymer battery within a silicon skin. The dimensions are 4.6" by 1.7" and .6" thick and weigh 1.6 oz. Basically, after insertion, your iPod nano pack is twice as heavy. Your iPod fits snugly into the skin and plugs into the battery through the docking port on the bottom of the skin. The skin is so tight it's a bit of a wrestling match to put it on the iPod, but once in, your nano is well protected from scratches. The silver battery cover is open to the elements though.

iLuv

Complete with Accessories

The bottom of the iLuv battery mimics the nano, with its own Dock connector and Headphone Jack. It also ships with a folding AC/DC power adapter with USB, so you can plug the charger into the wall. To initialize the iLuv battery you must fully charge it first, then play your iPod until it dies. In my case, this took 8 hours, which is a big improvement in playtime right away. After it is fully charged, the iLuv battery automatically recharges your iPod and your iLuv is now the primary battery. The manual recommends full charges the first three times the batteries are used.

I don't like dongle add-on batteries because they're bulky and you have to carry extra batteries. The iLuv battery extension becomes part of your iPod, so it is a convenient one-piece outfit that fits easily in your pocket. This means you can no longer dock your iPod into a number of accessories though. The SpeckTone Retro is probably one of the few stereo systems into which an iLuv-enhanced nano will fit. iLuv has a couple of stereo systems that look compatible also, and MacNN will review one of those in the next month.

A Good Idea - Needs Tweaking

I have two gripes. The first problem is no belt clip or loop. I kayak on weekends and had used an armband, but the iLuv battery and case is too big to fit. Without a belt clip, you'll have to resort to using a holster or fanny pack, unless you like holding your nano all the time.

When the iLuv battery is fully initialized I get about 15 hours playtime and that is more than enough for me, but still significantly lower than the advertised 36 hours. How does iLuv test their batteries and get 36 hours? I'd like to know under what conditions iLuv achieves such long hours.

by Dave Muir and Ilene Hoffman


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