by Mike Caffrey

If you're like me, these days you're finding yourself ever more dependent on batteries. In today's high-tech world, they are becoming more important on a daily basis. As technology permits decreases in size, thus increasing portability, choosing the right battery for the job can no longer be looked at as one of the many irrelevant decisions that we make hundreds of time a day. I am about to let you in on a well-guarded secret, something that battery manufacturers world-wide have wanted to keep secret from all of us. You may be surprised to find that you have important tools for evaluating batteries that you never knew you had.

The truth is that testing a battery for its charge, whether it's with a store bought tester or one that comes as part of the package, is not the most efficient way to determine if a battery will suit your needs. The proper way to test batteries is by licking the terminals and evaluating the size and flavor of the shock you receive as you hold your tongue to the battery. In the same way that you wouldn't serve a '62 Le Montrachet with a ham sandwich, you don't want to mix certain batteries with certain electronic devices. Nine-volt are the only ones you can lick, because they are the only ones with both terminals exposed and next to one another so you can lick them at the same time and get a charge. What follows is a comparison of some of today's most common nine-volt batteries, and more importantly, how to determine the right battery for the job.

To get my supplies, I went to several of New York City's battery meccas. My first stop was Woolworth's, where I knew I could count on finding the two staples of anyone's battery needs: Energizer and Duracell. These two are always a good beginning, but Radio Shack, just up the block, could not be ignored. At Radio Shack I found the "Super" Alkaline and the Ultralife, which is unusual in that it is not an alkaline, but a lithium battery. If you are not familiar with lithium batteries, you are in for a treat. Lithium batteries are the cutting edge of battery technology. They may cost a little more, but they last far longer. The final stop was New York's biggest electronics mecca, Canal Street. Canal Street is several blocks of neighboring electronics stores. Anything you need, from DJ equipment to car stereos to even the smallest most obscure cable connectors, can be found here. I knew I would find several gems here and I did. I found a ProCell, a Panasonic, and a Sony. What's special about the ProCell and the Panasonic is that although they are ostensibly not for retail sale, on Canal Street I was able to purchase them anyway.
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