Laptops of old featured Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries, which were not environmentally friendly–especially when improperly disposed. They had very little up time compared to today’s notebook battery, and had debilitating issues with battery memory. Each time they were used they would only recharge to the point at which the user turned it off previously. Following the Ni-Cad was the Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) battery with no memory troubles, longer life, and better efficiency. Although it was a step forward, the Lithium-Ion battery improved the shelf life of a charged battery at rest and performs with greater efficiency while in use. Fortunately, battery technology will continue to improve along with the electronic devices they are made to power.
When selecting a new laptop, the battery is an important factor; they are not all created equal. Depending upon the type and amount of programs you typically run simultaneously while working, surfing the Internet, or playing games, the battery can drain very quickly. Add to that, powering a 17″ screen on full brightness and running the DVD drive will suck the life out of it before you have even gotten started.
CNET Labs perform notebook battery tests on all laptops they review. The same exact programs are set to run on a fully charged battery in each. The ThinkPad X60s by Lenovo has come in as the longest lasting to date with 8 hours and 16 minutes. The Fujitsu model number Q2010 can power through for up to seven and a halfhours when set up with a battery that has an extended life. Coming in at seven hours and twenty-one minutes is a Dell Inspiron E1405; the ToughBook 74 by Panasonic lasted 7 hours and 18 minutes, followed by a Lenovo ThinkPad R60 at 6 hours and 25 minutes. An HP Compaq nc2400, on the inexpensive side, lasted 6 hours and 6 minutes.
Frequent travelers away from power outlets for extended periods of time may want to invest in an extra battery or two. Some laptop models have an add-on battery feature, which can gain a few more hours of running time. From expansion slots to battery plates installed on the bottom, there are options that will give you the extra power you need. Bear in mind, extra batteries can be quite expensive depending on the particular notebook computer, but on-line comparison-shopping can save quite a bit of money.
If you and your laptop are often moving from one location to another and need more time to work or play than your current notebook battery can provide, popping out the DVD drive (requires no tools) and inserting an extra add-on battery in its place is one of the easiest ways to increase the running time. Also, dimming the display will save battery life and running no more than one or two programs at a time. A new battery will perform to its maximum when the manufacturer’s instructions are followed precisely. If it is recommended to fully drain and fully charge it a specific number of times, then doing so will certainly extend its life. Never store your battery on a conductive, grounded surface. It will eventually drain the cells to 0% and ruin the battery.