Speakers for charging a 3G iPod

Q: Hi, I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding a good and relatively inexpensive speaker/docking station that is compatible with my 3G ipod. I purchased the Logitech mm50 only to find that it has problems charging my 3G. I don’t want to purchase another system only to find that it has compatibility issues with my iPod. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks for your help!

– Stephanie

A: Although the third-generation iPod uses the same Dock Connector port as the current models, one significant difference is that it did not charge using the USB power sources that are compatible with the later generation iPods.

Specifically, the 3G iPod will only charge over FireWire, which was a different voltage and used different “pins” in the Dock Connector from the USB connection. Unfortunately, many current-model speakers may only provide power on the USB connection in the Dock Connector, and therefore will not charge the iPod.

Unfortunately, the solution to this may be somewhat complex. The original mm50s, Bose SoundDock, and Altec Lansing iM7 definitively will charge a 3G iPod. In fact, we specifically re-tested a 3G iPod with each of these units this morning, and it charged without any problems whatsoever. However, manufacturers may well have made changes to these models since their initial release, and limited their ability to charge older iPods. Since companies don’t publish lists of changes, and there are a myriad of different revisions out there, it’s basically impossible to track all of the changes that have been made from the older models. In addition, there are generally no indications whatsoever on the packaging of these products as to whether or not they will actually charge a 3G iPod, so the only way to determine this is generally to try it out for yourself.

Your best solution is to visit an Apple Store or comparably equipped retailer with 3G iPod in hand, and test charging on their floor models, explaining to a salesperson that you’ll need to make a return if the one in the box differs from the one on display.

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