60 Minutes has reported on a new fuel cell product called a Bloom Box, a big metal box containing a small stack of ceramic disks and “ink” that can supposedly provide enough power to run a Starbucks. The big questions are: Does it work? And will it ever help the average homeowner save on energy costs? Google has supposedly been using four of them to power one of its data centers for the past 18 months, so yes to the first question. As for home use, a Bloom Box currently costs over $700,000, so no. Inventor K.R. Sridhar optimistically says he wants to get the price to under $3,000 in the next 5 to 10 years, though. Watch the 60 Minute segment below.
Our science-obsessed cousins over at Consumer Reports decided to test some AA batteries to see which ones were the best. The results? Generic CVS batteries suck! They took the fewest amount of pictures in CR’s digital cameras before giving out.
Salman spotted this bizarre battery giveaway when he was shopping at his Chicago CVS:
The big benefit of rechargeable batteries, aside from possibly being more ecological, is they’re supposed to save you money in the long run. However, blogger Len Penzo argues that for some devices, you’ll spend more money if you go the rechargeable route.
Energizer responded to Are Energizer Rechargeable “D” Batteries “AAs” In Disguise? by explaining why D size rechargeable batteries are made the way they are:
Many of Panasonic’s cameras will only work with official Panasonic batteries—the newest models require “an embedded security ID chip,” while older models have been issued a firmware upgrade that locks out third-party vendors. This is already pretty obnoxious, but what makes it even worse is Panasonic can’t keep up with demand, so the batteries they insist you buy for your camera aren’t available.
We asked U.S. Cellular to provide us more details of how their battery swap program works. Basically, it’s not meant to provide a one-off swap of an old battery for a new one; instead, the program is designed so that you can use it repeatedly to refresh your phone’s power if you’re caught away from an outlet and running low on juice.
If you bought your cellphone from US Cellular in the past 18 months, as of this week you can get your phone’s battery replaced for free. We’ve contacted US Cellular to ask them to answer a couple of questions, namely whether the replacement battery is brand new and whether a customer can swap more than once. If they get back to us, we’ll post an update. In the meantime, if you’re a customer of theirs and your phone’s battery is dying, just stop by any US Cellular store to make the exchange.
HP announced today that laptop computer batteries have been recalled as a fire hazard due to risk of overheating. Affected models are HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, HP, and HP Compaq computers sold from about August 2007 to March 2008. Find out if your computer is affected and get a replacement battery at HP’s site.
Please don’t pull the cord on Howard’s laptop or it will die. Best Buy‘s Geek Squad has failed five times to coax his laptop’s ailing battery into holding a charge, replacing both the battery and the hard drive, and shipping Howard the same incorrect replacement battery three times. Howard now wants Best Buy to honor their lemon policy by giving him a new laptop, but it seems like every Geek Squad agent has a different copy of the replacement policy, and none of them apply to Howard. It’s almost like he’s asking for a price match! Let’s read his story, inside…
Congress will sneak into your bedroom tonight and steal a precious hour of sleep, but you don’t need to take the theft lying down. Get up tomorrow and use a few tips from Consumer Reports to steal back some hard-earned cash.
Update: company co-founder Matt addresses some of the accusations in a comment below. Why are there so many complaints online about Silicon Solar? One customer, Dennis, told us how he was lied to by a salesman, then strung along by a woman in customer support until the 14-day return period had expired. A quick Google search turns up dozens of similar stories about being treated badly by customer service, receiving products that don’t work as advertised, and never being given the RMAs necessary to send items back. Writes one reviewer on DavesGarden.com, “I can’t express the anger and frustration I felt when dealing with this company.”
35,000 laptop batteries from laptops sold from 2004-2006 have been recalled for fire and burn hazards. There have been 17 fires and 2 burns associated with these batteries, so if you’ve got one, make sure you take care of this issue.
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Highlights From Dealhack
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