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Apple prices MacBook Pro battery surgery

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Apple has released details and prices of its battery-replacement program for the recently released 17-inch MacBook Pro.

When the top-of-the-line Apple notebook was announced last Tuesday, eyebrows were raised when Macworld Expo keynote presenter Phil Schiller revealed that the battery of the 17-incher was, as he put it, "integrated" - i.e. sealed inside.

Apple has trumpeted the battery's long running time and lifetime, claiming that it could power the MacBook Pro "up to 8 hours on a single charge" and could be recharged "up to 1000 times - compared with only 200 to 300 times for typical notebooks."

When we spoke with an Apple product spokesperson about the "1000 times" claim, she clarified it to mean that after that many charges, the battery would retain approximately 80 per cent of its original run time.

Not too shabby - if true. But a battery is, as Apple puts it, a "consumable." It will eventually wear out. And today the company explained what it plans to do when that dread day arrives.

The battery - as will come as no surprise - is not user-replaceable. Replacements can be made at an Apple retail store (same day, with an appointment) or through an Apple-run mail-in service (three to four business days). Apple-authorized service providers can also perform the surgery.

Apple also listed the costs for the service for seven areas of the globe. In the chart below, the first two columns are from Apple's web site. The third column is the equivalent price for the battery-replacement service in today's US dollars.

17-inch MacBook Pro battery-replacement prices by region

Drowning in the VAT

As you can see, Canadians come out on the good side of the deal, but Japanese and European MacBook Pro owners who need battery replacements should bring theirs along when they come stateside on holiday.

If you assume that the costs of a replaceable battery's case, contacts, latches, and other hardware might cancel out the labor cost of the MacBook Pro's battery replacement, the Apple laptop battery isn't inexpensive when compared with batteries for other 17-inch laptops. The battery for the HP Pavilion dv7t series is $139, for example, and the battery for the Toshiba Satellite P300-ST3712 runs $149.99. Of the laptops we looked at, only the battery for the Dell XPS M1730 is more expensive, at $189.99.

Furthermore, the 17-inch MacBook Pro's integrated battery makes it impossible for the frugal MacBooker to pick up a third-party replacement (or spare), such as the $129 battery from MacConnection.com for the previous 17-inch MacBook Pro.

We're willing to bet, however, that when the first 17-inch MacBook Pro batteries need replacement in three to five years, enterprising shops such as TechRestore will offer less-expensive alternatives.

Those aging 'Books will be out of warranty, in any case. ®

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