Battery Life–The Hidden Cost of Keeping a Laptop

I’ve had my Dell E6500 for about 3-1/2 years now. I’ve recently upgraded the original (back when a SSD was a new thing) 64G drive to a 128G SSD, but otherwise spent no money on it. Good machine. Over the last couple months battery life has seemed to drop off, a 100% charge seems like it’s good for an hour at most. Can’t complain, that battery has seen plenty of charge cycles.

Or at least I wouldn’t complain if replacing it was a little less pricy. List price at Dell is about $140. Maybe it just seems expensive? $50 a year, maybe I shouldn’t complain. Still, seemed worth a quick search to see what non-Dell prices would be. Lots of hits, but reading the reviews on Amazon there are a lot – LOT – of cases where the battery failed after a week, or failed on install. It seems Dell only wants Dell batteries to work.

Can’t say I like that. With SSD’s, hard drives, memory, it’s a free market, I can buy wherever and have a reasonable chance it will work. With batteries,not so much. I found one on Amazon for $80 that looked like an original battery,no bad comments so far. Worth $60 to take the chance of having to return it? Yes, if for no other reason than being stubborn! It arrived today and so far works fine. Looks like the old one, no glitches – and really, why should there be? We’ll see.

Back to the cost. My view is that it is expensive. I’ll probably buy a new machine this year, Mac Air or an Ultrabook, and figure that it will be around $1000. Hard not to think about just applying that $140 (and maybe the $200 I spent on the SSD) towards the new one. The SSD I can move around and reuse. The battery? Nope!

I haven’t dug deeply, but I suspect it isn’t just Dell. All those devices with the non-removable batteries, you pay a premium there too. Probably other laptop manufacturers are similar. Do the batteries really need to be that custom? Why isn’t there a common battery standard like we have for flashlights and kids toys? Much like phone vendors profited from custom chargers, this too seems like a profit center.

0 thoughts on “Battery Life–The Hidden Cost of Keeping a Laptop”

  1. I have wanted standards for a long time, but those are hard. I know Europe has standardized cell phones on one of the USB sizes, but imagine if they”d done that 6 years ago? We”d be looking at some other style or size, which possibly wouldn”t be providing the charge that newer smartphones need.

    I wish manufacturers would get together and be smarter about this, or go with one of a few sizes. I know that they can”t be making a ton off batteries with the turnover that models go through. If they really analyzed it, they”re investing a lot, for probably little return. Be nicer if they went with a standard size, or one of 3-4 and used that for their machines.

    I have to agree that on an older machine, I”d be tempted to just live with it as a spare desktop, kids machine that needs to be plugged in, and put the $140 to a new machine. The old Dell I bought early in the SSC days, 2003 or s0, still works for my girl. Battery barely survives 10 minutes and the wireless radio is dead, but an external adapter and a power cord mean it works great for kid games.

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