Record-breaking heat in San Francisco earlier this week got me thinking about the effect of temperature and other external conditions on portable electronics. Most gadgets weren't designed to withstand extreme heat or cold, or to fend off excessive moisture (with some notable exceptions). With that in mind, I've compiled the following tips to help you keep your tech in good working order.
It may already be nearing the end of August, but many of us still have several warm, sunny weeks left. During that time, DON'T leave your cell phone, MP3 player, or other portable device in your car all day long--especially in direct sunlight. (In this city, doing that is just begging to have your car window smashed in, as well.) Gadgets, like prescription meds, are best kept at room temperature. Exposing them to extremes can damage the internal hardware, causing system malfunctions and general user unhappiness.
If you're wondering about the limitations of your device, DO check out the packaging; most electronics call out an appropriate temperature range in the specs. For example, the iPod Touch is guaranteed operational between 32 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can see, the upper end of that range is not all that high. From what I've been told, many parts of the country also dip well below freezing some months of the year, so heed this advice in the winter as well. (Or just spend November through March in California--it's totally affordable, I swear.)
You may have noticed that the Apple also offers up some "relative humidity" guidelines. The gist is DON'T get your gadgets wet. With the exception of some waterproof MP3 players, specially designed cases, and water resistant headphones, portable electronics generally can't keep it together in a puddle of liquid.
Of course, sometimes getting your tech wet is an unavoidable accident; I personally know more than a few people who have managed to drop their phones in the toilet. If that happens, DO try all the tricks in the book, such as those listed in this wikiHow. One of the more popular methods is to leave your device in a bowl of dry rice, but if you want to take things a step further (or--like me--suffer from the klutz gene) you can purchase the , which is designed specifically to wick moisture away from soaked electronics.
All that being said, I've heard countless stories of miracle gadget survival, including one that told of a Creative Zen V Plus coming out of a dryer cycle still alive and kicking. I invite you to share your own success stories (and tips) below.