iPod nano sets light to man's pants

The iPod nano may not be cheap but it's not supposed to literally burn a hole in your pocket. However, for one man in Douglasville, Georgia, US, it didn't just burn a hole, it burst into flames.

In his little kiosk at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Danny Williams looked down to see "flames coming up to my chest". After 15 seconds of incandescent panic he quickly located the source of the conflagration: the now-smouldering iPod nano in his trouser pocket.

"I'm still kinda freaked out that after only a year and a half my iPod caught fire in my pocket," said Williams.

Fortunately for him he also had a glossy piece of card in his pocket. He believes this shielded him from the potentially catastrophic consequences of barbecued boxers.

It could have been worse. Apart from the fact that smoking is banned at airports anyway, security staff can get a bit twitchy when that smoke is emanating from the pocket of a hysterical man. "If the Transportation Security Administration had come by and seen me smoking, they could have honestly thought I was a terrorist," Williams said.

The iPod is powered by a lithium-ion battery that packs more power density than nickel-based batteries and is perfect for keeping tiny bits of kit charged up for longer. However, it is this power density that can cause serious overheating.

The last ten years have seen numerous cases of lithium-based batteries being recalled due to overheating and, in a few cases, injury - our poor Mr Williams being the latest. Last year saw the recall of 10 million batteries used by nine major laptop manufacturers due to "internal contamination" causing the cells, in a few cases, to catch alight.

Apple, to be fair, have promised to replace Mr Williams' scorched and blackened nano with a new one free of charge. Presumably it won't be coming with instructions on how to burn music files.

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Agam Shah

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