Dennis Cheung's rant about PC laptops reminded me of some battery problems I've been having with my iBook laptop.

Essentially, I only get 20 minutes of battery life. When the laptop was new, I got a good 6 hours worth. Now, the battery indicator says I get about 4 hours worth, but after 20 minutes, the battery'll just die and the iBook will go to sleep.

I searched a little on the web, but couldn't find a good solution. Just lots of people complaining about the same problem. So, I decided to bring my laptop into the local Apple store to the Genius Bar.

For the uninitiated, the Genius Bar is a brilliant idea. Basically, if you're having any sort of Mac-related problem, you can walk up to the bar in any Apple Store and ask a "Genius" free of charge. These are Mac experts working for Apple who are there just to answer your tough questions. You can walk in and talk to a real person, without having to pay a thing.  Other retail stores could learn from this.

This isn't to slight PC manufacturers' tech support. About five years ago, I had a problem with the Microsoft Keyboard Elite that I bought from Dell where basically the "A" key stopped working. Rather than trying to pin the problem on Microsoft, which Dell easily could have done, they promptly mailed me a new replacement keyboard, free of charge. I didn't even have to mail the broken one in.

Anyway, the Mac Genius (imagine because able to write "Genius" as a job title on your resumé) said that the problem was that Apple's lithium-ion laptop batteries die after 18 months of use. They last longer per charge, but have a shorter overall life span.  Since I've had my laptop for about 32 months, he said I was lucky it lasted for as long as it did.

Since I was well out of warrantee, to fix the problem, I'd have to buy a new battery for $120.

Devastating...

It's probably the Apple fan boy in me talking, but I can't say I'm terribly upset with Apple in particular since I've had an identical battery experience with every other laptop I've ever owned. It's still the best laptop I've ever had.

But still, I can think of better things to spend $120 on. Having to pay $120 for a battery every 2 years or so seems pretty steep to me.