No matter how fast or powerful a laptop might be, if its battery fails, it is not going to achieve anything. On the other hand, original equipment laptop batteries are often rather expensive, which has led to the growth of a large market in third party, or "generic" laptop batteries . These generic batteries are designed to be compatible with the original laptop, but, normally sell at far less than the genuine version.
Although consumers are often happy to buy cheaper, third party batteries, many laptop owners prefer not to do so, feeling that the quality and reliability of original equipment batteries is higher. When buying a laptop battery, therefore, it is important to know how to tell whether it is an original equipment battery or a third party battery, as this can avoid paying more than the battery is really worth.
A second hurdle when looking for an original equipment laptop battery is knowing where to buy it at a competitive price. Spare parts are notoriously expensive when bought from High Street computer retailers but can be found at better prices online, where Internet markets, such as eBay, often offer a good selection.
With batteries being central to the proper functioning of any laptop, it is not surprising that many people like to own one or two spares. There is also the fact that batteries, which receive heavy wear, can lose some of their charge capacity after time, leading to impaired performance. When this happens, a laptop user is faced with the dilemma of either continuing to make the best of their machine with its impaired original battery or spending what often amounts to a substantial sum to buy a replacement from the manufacturer.
The popular alternative to buying an original equipment (OEM) battery is to buy a battery made by a third party company but has been designed to be compatible with the laptop in question. These are also known as "generic" batteries as they are being sold on the strength of their specification, rather than their brand.
Generic batteries have the advantage of being cheaper than original equipment batteries. Often, they are much cheaper, and on the basis that price often reflects quality, this can arouse suspicion in the minds of many consumers. The belief is that such replacement batteries are inevitably inferior to original equipment items. To some extent this may be true, but it is not the whole picture.
Most major manufacturers buy in components for their laptops from third party suppliers, as this is the most efficient and cost effective way to obtain them. For a manufacturer to produce each and every component in-house would forgo the economies of scale, which large component suppliers can achieve. In the long run, such a policy would make laptops more expensive.
However, before putting their brand name to the components, manufacturers agree in their contract with the supplier that the components must meet certain standards of quality control. In other words, the manufacturer stipulates how tightly the components must be tested and screened for faults. A manufacturer with a high reputation for quality can buy in components and stipulate a high degree of screening in order to protect their reputation. To cover the cost of this quality control, they must charge a higher price for the goods.
A generic brand which is a little less concerned about quality control may buy their components from exactly the same supplier, but in their contract, they can afford to stipulate lower levels of quality control. This means that fewer components must be tested and rejected, and the price of each component can, therefore, be lower.
Alternatively, the generic brand may manufacture the battery themselves, but again, to be able to sell them more cheaply, it is likely that they apply lower standards of quality control or use lower standard components with a greater long term risk of failure.
A consumer buying a laptop battery from a brand with a high reputation for quality is likely to get a good battery, as it should have been screened to a very high standard. A consumer buying a battery made in exactly the same factory, but who buys more cheaply from a brand with lower standards of quality control may still get a first class battery. Most of the batteries are made to the right specification and standard, after all. But there is a greater chance of getting a faulty battery with a lower quality brand than with a higher quality brand because the level of quality control is lower, and there is a greater risk of random faults slipping through.
In short, third party batteries which have been made to a manufacturer's specification may well represent good value for those buyers who are lucky. But the relatively lower standards of quality control means that the chances of a lower quality battery turning up are greater. All of this adds up to a powerful argument, if the consumer is concerned primarily with quality and reliability rather than cost, for sticking to original manufacturer's batteries.
The first pointer to whether or not the battery is a genuine original equipment article is its price. If it is selling at a significant discount compared with other genuine batteries, the question arises as to how the seller can afford to undercut everyone else. One possibility is that the battery is not genuine. Another possibility is that the battery is genuine but a grey import. These are batteries made by the manufacturer, but intended for sale in a different market, where prices are cheaper. By buying them up and transporting them to a more expensive market, dealers can save money.
Grey imports, whilst not illegal, do contravene the terms and conditions in a manufacturer's contract. This means that the manufacturer is not obliged normally to provide a warranty for grey imported goods. And the manufacturer may try to claim that their use invalidates the warranty on the rest of the laptop, even though it was otherwise perfectly legitimate.
A genuine battery should have a lot in common with the original battery it is replacing. This means that it should have a model or part number and a serial number in a similar format and style to the old battery. If there were security features on the old battery, such as a hologram or watermark, then they should be on the new battery too.
Moreover, the printing should be of a similar quality to the old battery, and the colours should also be similar. If any of these differ, then be aware of the possibility that the battery is not genuine, and consider making further enquiries. Finally, ask to see the guarantee that comes with the battery. It should state whether it applies to a particular country or not. If it is from an incorrect region, be aware that it may not be honoured in the UK.
When setting out to buy a replacement battery, the important information to have includes the exact model number of the laptop it is for, and the series number, as well as the precise specification and part number of the battery that is being replaced. Armed with these details, it should be possible to find a new battery which matches them.
Obviously, it is helpful if it is possible to find a supplier who is objectively trustworthy. And it is helpful, when looking for a genuine battery at a good price, to have access to a wide range of sellers. Buying genuine batteries in the high street does rather restrict competition, with the result that prices are likely to be high. In most cases, the easiest way to find a genuine battery at a competitive price is to look online, where Internet retailers, such as eBay, offer a good choice of original UK stock laptop batteries.
It is simple to find original manufacturer's laptop batteries on eBay, by entering a search term into the search bar on the eBay home page. A good term in this case would be "original laptop batteries". This brings up pages full of listings detailing the original manufacturer's laptop batteries that are available on eBay. You can narrow this list down to suit your specific requirements by specifying the make of laptop you are buying the battery for. If you are looking for a battery with a specific number of power cells or a specific capacity, you can specify that as well
Once you have a set of listings that accurately reflect your needs, read the descriptions carefully and look at the photo of each battery. Use this information to check that the battery you are considering matches as closely as possible the battery it is intended to replace. If you are at all uncertain, you can contact the seller using the information on their profile page. Ask about the part number and model number on the battery you are looking at. And ask about the guarantee and source of the battery. The seller's profile page also includes feedback from past customers. You can use this information to help you determine how reliable the seller is.
Computer component manufacturers often buy in their components from large component suppliers, as this is the most efficient way to source them. Although third party laptop batteries are made to a similar specification as original batteries and may even be made in the same factory, that does not always guarantee that they are of the same quality.
Original manufacturer's laptop batteries are often more expensive than third party replacement batteries due to their higher quality control. This can make it worthwhile paying for the original battery, if cost is not the prime concern. Grey imports are original batteries intended for a different market. By importing them from that market, the supplier may breach the terms of the guarantee which comes with them, and manufacturers may refuse to honour those guarantees. To be sure of getting an original U.K. stock laptop battery, it is important to check the part or series and model numbers of the battery and laptop it is intended for.
Also check the printing and logos for signs of being false. When buying original laptop batteries the high street is an expensive option. Original batteries can be bought more cheaply online, for example, on eBay, which has a good range of original U.K. stock laptop batteries.