Sound Advice: Aftermarket batteries can be a good value

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2011 - 1:46 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q My fiancée and I are going to Europe for our honeymoon next month, and we need extra rechargeable batteries for our digital camera. We will take lots of pictures, and the battery that came with it might not last the entire day. I have seen aftermarket batteries selling for much less than the manufacturer's batteries. Given the big difference in price, how do they compare?

A Generally speaking, aftermarket batteries are not as good as the original batteries.

Generic or third-party batteries can be a good value, though. You might get about 75 percent or more of the performance of the original battery, for 25 percent of the price or less.

There are many batteries on the market, and performance varies widely.

Recently, I have been using replacement batteries sold under the Wasabi Power brand and have had excellent results. Its battery and charger packages are an excellent value.

When I wrote about the Samsung TL350 recently, I suggested that anyone purchasing the camera pick up at least one extra battery because its tiny battery might not get you through a whole day of shooting. On Amazon, I found a Wasabi package for the TL350 that includes two batteries and a charger for only $20, and the charger includes a car adapter for charging on the go.

I spent a day in New York City with two Wasabi batteries and the original Samsung battery and took about 700 pictures, as well as a dozen videos. The batteries performed wonderfully, and I could not tell any difference between the Wasabi batteries and the original battery.

An extra charger always comes in handy, too, especially with the TL350, which typically charges batteries in the camera with a USB cable. Now I can use the camera and charge a battery at the same time.

Try a better antenna

Q We have lived in the same neighborhood for 20 years and consistently get poor radio reception, no matter what radio or antenna we use. On the other hand, the radios in our cars always get great reception. I really want good radio reception. Should I buy a car radio and convert it into a tabletop unit?

A It could be that something in your home is causing interference and that your car, outside, is immune. Test this first with a handheld radio, using it outside next to your car to see how it works. Regardless, converting a car radio isn't the answer. You need the right radio and antenna.

Start with the antenna. If you can't put an antenna outside, an ordinary pair of unpowered $10 TV rabbit ears will often outperform more expensive powered units for FM reception. Rabbit ears have been one of my most cost-effective recommendations for FM for years.

Check out C. Crane (www. ccrane.com) for good advice as well as a line of AM antennas and tabletop radios optimized for good reception.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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