Tue, May 22, 2018 02:44 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Prolonging the life of your digital gear

11/02/2007 - You have a huge investment in your iPod, phone, television and other gadgets. You want your gear to last as long as possible. Fortunately, you can take steps to prolong the life of your gear.

Let's start with batteries. So many things rely on them. They're used in laptops, iPods, cell phones and other gadgets.

Lithium ion batteries are used almost exclusively today. They last longest when given frequent partial charges. It's best to discharge them completely once a month to reset the fuel gauge.

Heat is the enemy of batteries. Don't leave them sitting in the sun or use cases that trap heat next to the battery. If you're storing a battery for an extended period, keep it cool. And make sure its charge is only about 50 percent.

If you're having battery problems, don't overlook the charger. A damaged charger might not give your battery full power.


Flash memory based iPods like the Nano are fairly resilient. Their hard drive brethren are another story. Their internal hard drives are more susceptible to damage. Avoid dropping it or shaking it vigorously. And use a padded case.

In fact, any iPod benefits from a protective case. Scratches are an annoyance. Cracked screens are costly to repair.

Treated kindly, your iPod should last several years. Of course, by then you'll have set your sights on a new model!

The iPod leads the market, but there are many other music players. This advice applies to them, too.


Your flat-panel should last 10 years or longer. But keep it clean! Leave room around the vents and keep it free of lint. Otherwise, interior components could melt.

Keep the screen clean. Use a dry, soft cloth instead of abrasive or caustic chemicals. If necessary, dampen the cloth slightly. Don't rub the screen hard. Pressure on the screen can cause pixels to burn out.

Picture burn-in isn't such an issue with newer plasma televisions. But you should turn them off every couple of hours to avoid problems.

DVD players

Like televisions, DVD players need good ventilation. Avoid stacking them with other audio/visual components. And keep the vents clear of lint.

Be careful when moving your DVD player. Don't jostle the interior components, such as the lens. This can cause discs to jump and skip. Or, they might not play at all.

If you encounter problems, the player may not be at fault. You could have scratched or dirty discs. Take the time to clean them and put them in their cases. Your DVD player's lens should be cleaned from time to time, too.

Expect a DVD player to last about five years.


Clean inside your printer occasionally with a soft, lint-free cloth. Other problems can befall printers. There are paper jams and clogged ink nozzles. Running an air conditioner or dehumidifier while printing will help.

You can clean the print heads with acetone and a soft cloth. However, most printers come with software to clean the print heads. Only clean the heads when necessary. The cleaning process uses a lot of costly ink. A printer should last five or more years.

Copyright 2007, WestStar TalkRadio Network. All rights reserved. Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign-up at

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