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Look further than the batteries. Take the whole thing apart. That's what I do, and I've fixed a lot of things. And keep looking on the internet. A few hours of looking can result in years of listening.
I have the same problem and it irritates me like crazy. A weird thing that seems to work is when you want to switch off your mp3 player, put it on pause and let it switch itself off automatically. When you next switch it on, it will be on that same song and not some random one you listened to ages ago. Seems to work for me.
Do you have any idea how to play music on shuffle by the way?
Sometimes the batteries in devices like this fade over time. If the iPod saw heavy use and many charge/use cycles, this may have depleted the batteries efficiency enough to warrant the lower playback times.
In order: *The battery life specs listed by the manufacturers are based on ideal laboratory conditions, and are almost never right. (You'll also notice that you don't actually have a full 8GB's, and that it doesn't take as long to charge the unit as the manual suggests. And the big one - this player will not fit as many songs on it as the manual suggests.) *Four hours is not unusual. Sounds about right. *The battery is not replaceable on this particular unit. * If you can listen to your songs, they are formatted correctly. Mp3-format songs take up less space than wma's, so you can fit more mp3 on a player than wma's, usually.
Get a replacement from Philips if it seems abnormal and you are still under warranty. 8-9 hours is normal battery life for this unit - the product specs are "ideal" - not relaistic. No way to dim this unit.