For years, we've been hearing all about how wonderful fuel cells were going to be and how they would replace rechargeable batteries in things like mobile phones and laptops. This still doesn't make total sense. The benefit of fuel cells is that they'll last much longer than traditional rechargeable batteries. That's a good thing. However, the replaceable nature of fuel cells is a real downside. As we've pointed out before, the reason so many devices have moved to rechargeable batteries is because people don't like the idea of having to buy and tote around replacements for their devices. Being able to recharge is much more efficient. When it comes to fuel cells, though, the most likely situation will be that you'll have to buy replaceable fuel cell "cartridges" which most people will probably refer to as batteries -- since they'll basically look and act like batteries. Some companies have realized this and backed off the fuel cell bandwagon, but it looks like the hype is back again with Toshiba talking up a fuel cell-powered MP3 player and a research firm claiming the fuel cell market is about to take off. Yes, there's a place for fuel cells, but just because they last longer, it's not clear that everyone will rush out and buy them. Having rechargeables is just much easier to deal with than always having to make sure you have a fresh pack of new
batteries fuel cells.
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