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Details, Details

When Your iPod Goes To Pot

I bet more than a few of you own an Apple iPod, or are thinking of getting one.

I bet you figure that it has rechargable batteries, and when they eventually wear out (they do wear out, you know), you’ll just go to the store and buy another standard rechargable battery for a few bucks.


As this article points out, replacing the battery in the iPod is a far more expensive proposition.

Apple’s initial “solution” to the problem was rather interesting, essentially, it was buy a new unit for them at a “discount” price. That’s like the auto manufacturers offering a discount on a new car everytime you run out of gas.

This hasn’t gone over too well, so now Apple has recently changed its policy and now will replace the battery for you for “only” $100.

I bet that makes you feel a lot better.

Can you do it yourself? Why, yes, you can. Here are instructions on how to do it yourself (it’s not for the ham-handed as this forum thread suggests) from a place that sells the battery for a bargain-basement $49 (I looked around, they don’t come cheaper than that, yet).

Now maybe you find a $50 battery replacement perfectly reasonable, but consider the possibility that others might not, or at least would want to look at similiar products where you don’t have to pay %50 and have to be a surgeon just to replace a battery.

Let’s face it, if you’re out to buy an electronic gadget like this, battery replacement isn’t exactly foremost in your mind. That would be a level of anally-retentive attention to detail even I’d be awed by (and remember, I walk into stores and computer shows looking for CPU codes).

But look at what happens if you’re not.

Standing Tall…

Standing Tall

I know a lot of people find technical support people a bunch of stiffs, but to get the answer to this question, I literally had to get advice from someone who’s been dead for about 2,500 years.

Recently, I’ve been looking at HDTVs. Among many other aspects of these products, the size of the screen is a factor to consider. There are screens that look like regular TV sets, and there are widescreen TVs. (Some computer monitors are already widescreen, and no doubt, more will come for those who like to watch movies on their computer.)

In technical terms, the first are screens that follow the “old” TV width-to-height ratio of 4:3, while the second follow the “new” format of 16:9.

I looked at some, and what struck me immediately was that the screen picture looked awfully small given the stated size of the screen. This was additionally disconcerting while seeing claims in the store that widescreens offered much more viewing area than standard TVs.

For those allergic to math and/or geometry, the next half-page proves that you can calculate screen heights knowing just the diagonal of the screen, and that widescreens are less “tall” for a given diagonal than a standard TV. If you’re willing to take my word for it, and just want to know how to figure out what size widescreen to buy to make up for that, just scroll down to “Isn’t There A Simpler Way To Figure This Out?” If you either really trust me, or are really lazy, scroll down to “Could We Try “Easy” Now?” :

After thinking about it a bit, I realized why that might be. Stated TV screens are measured diagnonally, from one corner of the screen to its opposite.

If you could draw a line across a TV screen, what you would see are two triangles. There’s a mathematical formula which lets you determine an unknown size of a triangle. It’s called the Pythagorean theorem, and you were supposed to learn about that in geometry class. The formula is a2 + b2 = c2. The diagonal of a TV screen is exactly like the hypotenuse (the longest side) of a right triangle.

You may say, “But Ed, that theorem is only good when you don’t know one size of one side of a triangle. Here, you don’t know two.

That’s not exactly true. I don’t know the actual sizes of the TV screen’s length and width, but I do know something about the ratio between the length and width of the screen. It’s either 4:3 or 16:9.

Knowing that, I can just plug in the ratios, and find out what the proportionate ratios of all three sides of my TV screen triangle are:

For regular TVs:

42 + 32 = 52

That means if the width of the TV is four inches, and the height is three inches, the diagonal of the TV must be five inches.

For wide-screens:

162 + 92 = 18.3572

That means if the width of the TV is sixteen inches, and the height is nine inches, the diagonal of the TV must be 18.357 inches.

What good does that do me? Since the ratios will always be constant, I can find out the lengths and widths of any TV simply by using the ratios.

Let’s take a 32-inch diagonal as an example:

For a regular TV, I just substitute “32” for “5” and find out the width and height by multipling the ratio for such a triangle by 32/5. So:

Width = 4 X (32/5) = 25.6 inches

Height = 3 C (32/5) – 19.2 inches

For a widescreen 32-incher:

Width = 16 X (32/18.357) = 27.89 inches

Height = 9 X (32/18.357) = 15.69 inches

TV (or monitor) screens aren’t usually exactly X number of inches diagonally, and an actual TV/monitor tube may not follow the exact proportions of the ratio, but it will be close enough for our purposes.

You can see right away that the 32-inch widescreen is a bit wider than the standard TV, but is rather “shorter.” Since we tend to judge “bigness” in a viewed image by how tall rather than how wide the image is, that’s why I found the widescreen “small.” (It’s also why you get letterboxing (a black band above and below the movie image when a widescreen image is shown on a standard TV set).

Do you at least get more square inches with widescreen?

Since we know the width and height, just multiply the two to get the area:

Standard TV:

25.6 X 19.2 = 491.52 square inches


27.89 X 15.69 = 437.59 square inches


It is only when the height of a particular widescreen is about the same as that of a standard TV that you get the kind of increased area claimed, but then, that’s a bigger TV.

The next section will tell you how much bigger it has to be.

Isn’t There A Simpler Way To Figure This Out?

I grant you, it might be a little rough doing these calculation in your head in a store.

You can reduce the calculation to a simpler multiplication:

For a standard TV:

Width: Diagonal X .8

Height: Diagnonal X .6

For a widescreen:

Width: Diagonal X .8716

Height: Diagonal X .4855

Could We Try “Easy” Now?

Oh, then it’s really easy. You really don’t care about measuring width, but height, so you can forget about the width calculations.

What the average person will really want to know is “How much “bigger” does the HDTV have to be to be at least as “tall” as a standard TV?

To get that, you take the multiplier factor for the standard TV and divide it by the multiplier factor for the HDTV. That comes out to (.6/.4855) = 23.55% bigger.

For normal people, just use 25%; it’s close enough.

So to get an HDTV image as tall (actually a fraction of an inch bigger) as that for a standard TV, just add 25% to the diagonal of a regular TV.

Here’s A Chart

Some Sample Equivalents

Standard Size
22 inches
27 inches
24 inches
30 inches
26 inches
32 inches
27 inches
33+ inches
32 inches
40 inches
36 inches
44+ inches
40 inches
49+ inches
43 inches
53+ inches
47 inches
58 inches
50 inches
62 inches

So if you want Clint Eastwood to stand just as tall on your widescreen as he currently does on your current TV, buy a 25% “bigger” TV.

Of course, all this only deals with showing widescreen programming. Most programming still isn’t widescreen yet, and you need to look into how well these TVs display
“normal” programming before you decide to buy one.

P.S. To Those Who Love Widescreens Please don’t write me to tell me how wonderful widescreen is. I’m not saying widescreen is bad. I’m not
saying 4:3 is good, or better, or that people should buy that instead. I’m just pointing out some geometry, and telling people what they need to look
for to get the most benefit from buying one.


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