We've been giving you tons of ways to salvage your well-used gadgets as we weather the financiapocalypse, but one thing you can't hack your way out of is needing a new battery for your laptop. Eventually, your battery will wear out to the point it won't even chug through a single YouPorn clip, and by that time (2-3 years), getting a new one direct from your laptopmaker will be obscenely expensive. What to do? Embrace the cheap third-party battery. You've probably heard buying a cheaper third-party battery is risky, just like you might've thought refurbished laptops are. Not so. A lot of them actually come from the same factory as the official ones. Brian Nadel at ComputerWorld checked out a few for his ancient ThinkPad R50 and two-year-old MacBook Pro. In his tests, he ordered six batteries for the notebooks—two pairs of third-party ones, one pair of official ones. Surprise, they all had about the same life and looked almost identical. Ironically, the one bum battery he got actually came from Lenovo itself. You do have to be smart though—vet the reputation of whoever you're buying from. Nadel used Laptops for Less and LaptopBatteryExpress. (For Apple notebooks, we're fans of FastMac.) One small thing to note is that while aftermarket batteries are generally safe if you get them from the right place, laptop-makers might be testy about repairing your laptop if it has one of them in it. I think saving a crapload of money is worth the risk, personally. [ComputerWorld]