My Dell laptop’s battery died (slowly). Thinking I was being clever, I bought a replacement part from a name brand instead of Dell. That one died, too, but much more spectacularly. If I buy another battery, this time from Dell, I’ll have spent more on batteries than on the laptop.

This stinks. It’s all around us, though: refrigerators that have non-serviceable compressors, so when they wear out you have to get a new refrigerator. Lamps with sealed non-replaceable switches that have crappy solder joints that corrode through after a little while, just due to the heat and current. And thousands upon thousands of items for which replacement parts are available, but ridiculously expensive.

So do I buy a new battery, or shell out twice as much money as the battery would cost and get a new laptop?

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