“When users take the specifications of an MP3 player into consideration, one very important factor most take into account is the rated battery life. However, as many are aware, the battery life stated is generally the runtime from a full charge in ideal conditions, such as when the player is left playing without any sound enhancements (EQ, bass-boost, etc.), volume set to a moderate level, all music is 128kbps MP3, backlit display goes out within a few seconds and so on. However, according to tests conducted by CNET, they found that while many players met or exceeded their claims, one feature that has a drastic affect on battery life is the infamous DRM,” Seán Byrne writes for CD Freaks.
“When it comes to the Creative Zen Vision:M’s 14-hour claim, CNET got about 16 hours of playback time with MP3s from a full charge, which was a nice surprise. However, when they tried playing WMA 10 DRM crippled subscription tracks on it, they only got just over 12 hours; a loss of almost 4 hours (~25%) of playback time due to the battery-hungry DRM. CNET found similar results with other players with WMA DRM drastically reducing battery life by up to around 20%. Apple’s FairPlay DRM seems to have less of an effect with battery life being reduced by around 8% when compared with MP3 playback,” Byrne writes.
Full article here.
This doesn’t tell us that DRM is battery-hungry. This tells us that Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) is horribly inefficient and causes the processor work so hard to decode that it saps 25% of battery life versus playing MP3 files. Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), which is used by Apple, is more efficient than Microsoft’s WMA (big surprise, huh?), causing an 8% battery hit versus playing MP3 files. So, this test is about codecs, MP3 vs. WMA and MP3 vs. ACC. To test whether DRM affects battery life, unprotected AAC files need to be tested against protected AAC files and unprotected WMA files need to be tested against protected WMA files.
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