The iPod battery row has reared its ugly head again.

Reuters is carrying a story that claims that the iPod's rechargeable batteries can falter after only a year, and criticises their charging limitations.

Although it is not only Apple that is condemned for its battery inefficiencies – several other companies are said to have similar problems – Apple takes the brunt of the attack, being the most prominent music player on the market.

The report suggests that those who don't want to risk shortening the lives of their batteries can do so only by "sacrificing such features as a convenient size or longer playing time". This point is taken up by Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at market research firm NPD Group: "The smaller the device, all other things being equal, the harder it is to get long battery life," he said.

Reuters suggests another way around battery replacement is to buy a flash-memory-based player that costs hundreds of dollars less than a hard-disk-drive-based iPod and uses disposable batteries. Reuters gives the example of iRiver: "River's model based on flash memory uses one AA disposable battery that can last for 40 hours and then be replaced by the user. It weighs about 1.4 ounces, compared with the hard-drive-based model's 6.5 ounces."

The iPod mini lasts up to 8 hours on a single charge.

The question is do we really need such long battery life? Steve Koenig, senior manager of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association said: "Do I need a device that I can recharge very easily, or do I just need a small device? Am I probably only listening to it 30 minutes every other day, or do I have an hour-and-a-half commute?"