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We have a laptop that is less than a year old from HP. The battery either isn't holding its charge or isn't getting charged completely. We have noticed times when its plugged in but doesn't register that its plugged in. We have also had Windows 7 prompt us that the battery is bad and needs to be replaced... but then moments later after a reboot it could indicate that its fine. We have tried multiple outlets either with or without surge suppression and had the same results. Up until recently it had been a bit of a random issue that would happen periodically but not consistently. Now the computer never seems to get fully charged even being powered off and plugged in over night. If it is getting fully charged the battery dies extremely rapidly. When trying to operate the laptop with the battery out of it but plugged in, it will repeatedly shut off at random times.

Here's what I've concluded so far (I acknowledge I might be wrong):

  1. The problem is one of three things (or a combination): Battery, charger, or wiring in the laptop.
  2. Since the laptop shuts off while the battery is unplugged I think that indicates that even if the battery is bad there's something more going on.

What can be done to determine the problem on my own? Or is this something that I need to have inspected professionally? If so where's the best place to take it for quality work that isn't super expensive?

EDIT: I know from research that windows 7 had some battery management issues at some points so I'll add that all updates have been applied to windows 7.

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Many laptops simply won't power up with an empty battery slot, by design, so I wouldn't jump to any troubleshooting conclusions on that basis. – Jason Sherman Mar 31 '11 at 6:16
I would completely agree except for the fact that it does power on and will boot into windows and run for a bit. If this particular laptop was designed as you indicated it wouldn't power on at all. – Kenneth Mar 31 '11 at 6:32
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In my opinion as a laptop tech, this sounds like a problem with the power supply integrated in to the motherboard. It's either shorting or connecting poorly to both the battery and the power adapter, resulting in power loss when no battery is available and either discharging the battery rapidly or failing to charge it.

Action item: check to see if Windows shows the battery charging normally (when it lists the battery as present). Does the battery charge up to 100%?

If the battery is charging fully, this particularly suggests a problem with the motherboard, although if it doesn't it could be either the motherboard or the power supply (although the fact that it sometimes fails to acknowledge the battery further suggests the motherboard). It's probably not worth replacing the motherboard yourself, but if the laptop is less than a year old, it should still be in warranty with HP. Contact them.

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I went to look up the purchase date and we're a couple days over a year... I thought we were under. If they don't work with it would you recommend any good places to take it? – Kenneth Mar 31 '11 at 5:33
Depends on your area, and considering that my area is basically the middle of nowhere (SE New Mexico), I doubt we match up. Here's some general advice: * check reviews like mad! a lot of computer shops are shady. * Companies with manufacturer certifications may be more reliable, but don't rely on them as a sign of quality. * Talk to the techs. a lot. you should be able to get a good sense of their general competence and willingness to help. If you're met by a receptionist, ask to talk to the tech. They'll probably be happy to discuss the issue with you directly. – jcrawfordor Mar 31 '11 at 5:43
I spoke with HP and am trying to talk them in to making an exception for the 7 days we're past the warranty but I'm not sure if I'll succeed. They're quoting me $50 for phone diagnosis plus $350 if it were to turn out to be the motherboard. Is this reasonable for that kind of service? – Kenneth Mar 31 '11 at 6:35

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