Observations | Technology

Misdemeanor Battery Recharge

I have come to realize that the growth of my reliance on technology as a whole has far outclassed the current technology for batteries and I am more than a little concerned. So much of my fun, social activities, and learning, even my hunt for work, not only require a growing amount of energy but also require use of items that require the ongoing and recharging of batteries. I won’t even get into the need for WiFi for my ever-hungry mobile devices. Batteries don’t last and rechargeable ones degrade noticeably over time. Newer devices with non-replaceable batteries have to literally be thrown away when this happens.

A few weeks ago my phone started acting up. It would randomly restart both on its own and when I checked alerts. After that it would keep restarting in an endless loop until I plugged it in, even if it was nearly at a full charge. I’ve had it for just over a year. It turns out the problem was the battery, which I would think would last at least as long as the two year contract. It cost more than $50 to replace and I’ll probably have to do it again next year.

I’ve had my laptop for less than a year. It’s a Microsoft Surface Book; ultra-portable, thin, and light. I paid too much for it but I love it. It’s still working fine by the way. Out of curiosity I stopped at the Microsoft store in the mall. I wanted to get an idea of how much a replacement battery would cost when the inevitable happened. The attended told me that the battery was not replaceable and that this was built into the design. I was concerned at this and asked how long I can reasonably expect it to last. They said probably about five years. I didn’t find that number, if realistic, to be unreasonable. I would probably buy a new laptop in 5 years time. It’s just that I didn’t expect my current one to degenerate into a unusable paperweight.

I’m not living in Southern California anymore but I have not fully shed the local sensibilities. My current car is quite reliable though I have had to replace the battery twice in all my years of ownership. I’ve always thought that I would one day replace aging with a hybrid or an electric car. I even sat in a Tesla the other day to see how it feels. These are not cheap cars to begin with but if I had to add in having to replace the massive batteries every few years or so, the cost of ownership increases significantly.

The little things matter too. Smaller items like my wireless gaming controllers and remote controls are indispensable. I work around this by buying packs of batteries at the 99 cents store, storing them for future use. Other items may have to be thrown away like my wireless Bluetooth speaker, my fitbit, and my wireless Bluetooth headset. When the batteries stop holding a charge on those items then that’s all she wrote.

I know that technology is changing the world and new things are being invented all the time. How long before the lack of a viable battery option begins to grind these things to a halt? Do I start hunting for places to plug in like I have to do to find viable WiFi options?

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