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DRM Hurts Battery Life?

Engadget posts that CNet’s MP3 Insider studied several MP3 players and discovered that you lose several hours of battery life when playing DRM music. The iPod loses eight percent of its battery when playing FairPlay AAC tracks, while PlaysForSure devices lose from 2-5 hours. The Creative Zen Vision: M dropped from 16 hours to 12 hours.

The theory (and probably the accurate reason) is that DRM music uses the processor of the player more, draining the battery faster. Of course, it is also possible that WMA/AAC files drain the battery more than MP3 files.

Either way, while this is something that companies should be working on, I think we can all agree that it is more important for them to concentrate on longer battery lives in general. After all, if your player gets 40 hours, but only 35 with DRM, that’s not terrible.

Still, its just another downside of DRM.

March 17th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Media, Apple, General | one comment



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1 Comment »

  1. The commentors on Slashdot pointed out that it’s pretty much impossible to draw conclusions from this study. WMA and AAC are far more complicated than mp3, so they take more processing (thus, more battery life), and the files were at different bit rates from each other.

    It’s almost certainly true that DRM saps battery life (especially DRM10, like from Napster to Go or other subscription services), but it’s unlikely that most of the drop is from it.

    Now that I think about it, I bet there’s very little DRM processing on the iPod itself. Since iTunes is the only (legitimate, and easy) way to get playable music on the iPod (correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t have one), couldn’t all the DRM checking be in iTunes itself, especially since there is no subscription-compatible AAC DRM?

    Comment by Michael Akerman | March 17, 2006

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